Local government plays an essential role in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species in NSW.
Councils help protect plant and animal life in their local area through biodiversity strategies and plans, land use planning mechanisms, and working with the community on biodiversity projects and programs.
NSW Biodiversity Reforms
The NSW Government introduced some significant changes to the way we protect biodiversity, how we regulate a range of development activities on land and how the impacts of these activities on the natural environment are managed. These reforms were enacted through the introduction of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BCA), Local Land Services Act 2013 and supporting Regulations.
Key components of the reform include:
- A new framework for managing native vegetation clearing
- A strategic approach to private land and threatened species conservation
- An expanded biodiversity offsetting scheme
More information is available on the NSW Government's Land Management Reform website. Information specific to local government is also available.
Threatened species conservation
The main legislation that identifies and protects threatened species populations and ecological communities in NSW is the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BCA) and its supporting Regulations.
NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust was established as part of the NSW Government’s biodiversity reforms. The Trust supports and encourages landholders to enter into agreements to protect biodiversity on private land.
Conservation agreements as conditions of consent
The Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) has developed guidelines for the use of conservation agreements as conditions of consent.
Biodiversity Offsets Scheme
The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme establishes a framework to avoid, minimise and offset impacts on biodiversity from development and clearing. It also establishes biodiversity stewardship agreements, which are voluntary in-perpetuity agreements entered into by landholders to secure offset sites. A decision support tool has been developed to assist councils determine when the offset scheme applies.
The Biodiversity Values Map
The Biodiversity Values (BV) Map identifies land with high biodiversity value that is particularly sensitive to impacts from development and clearing. The map forms part of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme Threshold, which is a trigger for determining whether the Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS) applies to a clearing or development proposal. Councils can access the BV Map spatial data through the SEED portal.
Biodiversity Certification is a streamlined biodiversity assessment process for areas of land proposed for development. The process identifies areas that can be developed after they’re certified and measures to offset the impacts of development. Where land is certified, development may proceed without the usual requirement for site-by-site assessment.
SEPP (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017
The State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 regulates the clearing of native vegetation in non-rural zones across the state, where clearing does not otherwise require development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Find out more from the NSW Planning and Environment SEPP web page.
The Local Land Services Act provides a regulatory framework for the management of native vegetation in NSW. A Native Vegetation Regulatory Map identifies rural land that is regulated under the land Management Framework. Visit the LLS website for more information.
Support for councils
The NSW Government is supporting local government in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species and in the implementation of the NSW biodiversity reforms through supporting information for councils, bulletins, webinars and other resources.
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the Australian Government's main piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities, and heritage places.
The Act focuses on the protection of matters of national environmental significance, with the states and territories responsible for matters of state and local significance. A 20-year review of the Act is under way. To learn more, visit the EPBC website.
LGNSW submission to the review of the EPBC Act, April 2020
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