Local Government has an essential role to play in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species in NSW.

Councils manage local biodiversity through biodiversity strategies and plans, land use planning mechanisms and through actively working with their communities on projects and programs to protect biodiversity.  

NSW Biodiversity Reforms

The NSW Government implemented reforms to land management and conservation in NSW. The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BCA) and the Local Land Services Act 2013 and supporting Regulations commenced on 25 August 2017.

Key components of the reform include:

  • A new framework for managing native vegetation clearing
  • An enhanced and strategic approach to private land conservation and threatened species conservation
  • An expanded biodiversity offsetting scheme

More information is available on the Government's Land Management reform website. Some transitional arrangements also exist for some LGAs. 

The Office of Environment and Heritage, Local Land Services, the Biodiversity Conservation Trust and the Department of Planning and Environment each administer components of the new legislation. 

Webinar on conservation agreements as conditions of consent

The Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) is proposing to introduce guidelines for the use of conservation agreements as conditions of consent.

A webinar was held on 10 April 2019 to explain the content of the proposed guidelines and consult with councils on the proposed approach.

A recording of the presentation is now available.

Councils are invited to provide further comments on the proposed guideline by 29 April 2019 directly to the BCT at

For further information contact: Kirsty McIntyre, Senior Policy Officer – Environment,

Biodiversity Offsets Scheme

The reforms establish a framework to avoid, minimise and offset impacts on biodiversity from development and clearing through the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. It also establishes biodiversity stewardship agreements, which are voluntary in-perpetuity agreements entered into by landholders, to secure offset sites. 

Biodiversity Certification

Biodiversity Certification is a streamlined biodiversity assessment process for areas of land that are proposed for development. The process identifies areas that can be developed after they are 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. It is particularly suitable to be used where strategic land use planning is proposed or under way.

SEPP (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017

The new State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017  will regulate clearing of native vegetation in urban local government areas, as well as urban environmental zones across the state, where clearing does not otherwise require development consent under the EP&A Act. More detail on the NSW Planning and Environment SEPP webpage.

NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust

On 25 August 2017, the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust was established with the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Under the Act the Trust will support and encourage landholders to enter into agreements to protect biodiversity on private land. 

Land Management 

The Local Land Services Act, as amended by the Local Land Services Amendment Act (LLS Act), now provides a new regulatory framework for the management of native vegetation in NSW. A Native Vegetation Regulatory Map has been developed and identifies rural land that is regulated under the new land management framework. Visit the LLS website for more information. 

Support for Local Government

Regional Local Government Support officers 

The NSW Government recognises the important role of local government in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species in NSW. A network of eight regionally based support officers will assist councils in transitioning and implementing the biodiversity reforms. Officer's locations and contact details are available.

Sponsored training places

OEH is sponsoring three training places for local government staff following commencement of the BCA. Sponsorship is available for both Biodiversity Approvers Standard and Extended courses. There is no limit to the number of staff that a council may seek to have trained at their own cost. More detail and register at Greencap.

NSW Legislation repealed 

Legislation repealed through the reform process includes the Native Vegetation Act 2003, Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Local government biodiversity case studies

View case studies on this topic.