The Ballarat Environment Network (BEN) was formed in 1993 as an initiative arising from the 1991 Ballarat Region Conservation Strategy. The strategy identified the need for an umbrella organisation for the many environment and conservation-focused groups that existed in the Ballarat region. At that time, the region was identified as the area covered by the City of Ballarat, the Borough of Sebastopol and the Shires of Ballarat, Creswick, Bungaree, Buninyong and Grenville.

Since that time, the area of influence of BEN has expanded considerably. The region where BEN is active is a broad area of central and southern Victoria that stretches from Ararat in the west to Bacchus Marsh in the east and from Avoca and Daylesford in the north to Bannockburn and Colac in the south. It includes the municipalities of Ballarat City and Ararat Rural City and Hepburn, Pyrenees, Corangamite, Golden Plains, Colac-Otway and Moorabool Shires as well as parts of the areas covered by the North Central, Corangamite, Glenelg Hopkins and Port Phillip Catchment Management Authorities.
BEN manages 50 public reserves covering over 800 hectares for their biodiversity and conservation values, mostly in partnership with local groups.