The new framework for Biodiversity Conservation has strengthened the fundamental legal protections for our threatened species and provides better consistency between jurisdictions on the process of listing species.
Under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, there is a new process for declaring and protecting areas of outstanding biodiversity value, which meet strict criteria set out in the draft Biodiversity Conservation Regulations.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 will also introduce a risk-based approach to managing wildlife interactions that delivers a more streamlined framework while continuing to protect native plants and animals.
Outcomes are already being delivered though a $100 million investment in the Saving our Species program to conserve threatened species in NSW.
Saving Our Species
Saving our Species is an innovative state wide program that addresses the growing numbers of plants and animals in NSW facing extinction. The government has committed $100 million over five years to the Saving our Species program, to support the conservation of threatened species in NSW.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 legislates the approach taken by the successful Saving our Species program as the Biodiversity Conservation Program. This replaces the Priorities Action Statement. The SoS conservation projects deliver on the objectives of the BCP to maximise the long-term security of threatened species and threatened ecological communities in nature and to minimise the impacts of key threatening processes on biodiversity and ecological integrity.
OEH is required to have a SoS conservation project (strategy) in place for every threatened species and threatened ecological community within 2 years of the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Existing PAS projects and strategies under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 will be transferred to the BC Act.
The BCP register of SoS conservation projects can be searched here: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/savingourspeciesapp/default.aspx
More information about Saving our Species: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/threatened-species/saving-our-species-program
Wildlife Licensing and Codes
The BC Act establishes a new risk-based approach to managing wildlife interactions through a tiered framework. Certain interactions with wildlife (such as harming animals) will continue to be criminalised, however some actions may be permitted explicitly through the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations (i.e. low risk activities), through an adopted code of practice (i.e. moderate risk activities) or through a biodiversity conservation licence (i.e. high risk activities).
Government has been undertaking targeted consultation to develop wildlife codes of practice. Further consultation on proposed changes to existing wildlife licence classes and conditions, proposals for licensing fees, and on proposed codes of practice prior to the new arrangements starting.
Wildlife carers provide important and specialised care and treatment for injured and sick native animals and an important service to the community. The Office of Environment and Heritage will work together with the wildlife rehabilitation providers through an intensive consultation process to develop a new wildlife carer accreditation scheme for providers. It is likely the accreditation scheme will commence in late 2018.
More information about Wildlife Licensing & Codes www.environment.nsw.gov.au/licences-and-permits/wildlife-licences/wildlife-licensing-reforms
Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 gives the Minister for the Environment the power to declare Areas Of Outstanding Biodiversity Value (AOBVs). AOBVs are special areas that contain irreplaceable biodiversity values that are important to the whole of NSW, Australia or globally. AOBVs will be a priority for investment in private land conservation.
Existing areas of declared critical habitat under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 will become AOBVs when the BC Act commences. The draft BC Regulation establishes the criteria for AOBVs. The proposed criteria have been designed to identify the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation in NSW.
More information about Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value www.environment.nsw.gov.au/biodiversity/outstandingbiodivvalue.htm
Threatened Species and Communities
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 has modernised the process for listing threatened plants and animals. It aligns threat categories with international best practice and provides greater coordination between Australian jurisdictions.
The Biodiversity Conservation Regulations prescribes listing criteria for threatened plants and animals which align with standards developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation provides for populations to be listed as a species in certain circumstances. Endangered populations currently listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 will be carried over to the BC Act.
More information about Threatened Species and Communities www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/threatened-species