Key features of the new legislation
New listing categories for threatened species that reflects international best practice
Introduces a risk-based approach to managing wildlife interactions that delivers a more streamlined licensing system while continuing to protect native plants and animals
Provides better consistency between jurisdictions on the process of listing species and strengthens the role of the NSW Scientific Committee
A consistent and rigorous process of identifying and listing areas of outstanding biodiversity value
Outcomes are already being delivered though a $100 million investment into threatened species projects in NSW though Saving our Species
Strengthening wildlife licensing
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 proposes an updated and more efficient listing framework for threatened species that reflects international best practice. It also creates a new risk-based approach to managing wildlife interactions that will protect native plants and animals, establish minimum standards of animal care and maximise public safety.
Consultation raised concerns that changing the system would lead to reduced protections for wildlife. The new legislation carries over the existing protections afforded to native animals and plants. Instead of government using resources for lower risk activities, the new risk-based framework will allow resources to focus on compliance and enforcement for higher risk activities. We will increase transparency by establishing a public register of wildlife management and make it a strict liability offence for breaching biodiversity conservation licences.
Listing threatened species
Environment groups and scientists raised concerns about the proposal to harmonise state and federal listing processes. Provisions have been included in the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to support the implementation of an inter-jurisdictional Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a Common Assessment Method. The Common Assessment Method is consistent with international practice and will deliver more consistent lists of threatened entities across Australian jurisdictions.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 will also strengthen the role of the NSW Scientific Committee (to be renamed the Threatened Species Scientific Committee) to enable it to deliver a more strategic and responsive listing process.
The new legislation also provides for establishment of a program for monitoring and assessing trends in the condition (extent and quality) of biodiversity in NSW.
Identifying Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value (AOBV)
The concept of ‘areas of outstanding biodiversity value’ (AOBV) was widely supported by environment, community and wildlife groups, environmental consultants, scientists, local councils and many individuals. Other stakeholders sought clarity on the criteria for any AOBV declaration and its declaration over existing agricultural land. The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 establishes clear scientific criteria for identifying AOBV that are consistent with the IUCN standard for identifying Key Biodiversity Areas. Modelling the approach taken for listing threatened entities, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 prescribes the high level criteria while the detailed sub-criteria will be prescribed in the Regulations. Supporting guidelines will also be developed to help apply these criteria when identifying AOBVs.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 provides legal protections for AOBVs, recognising these areas will represent the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation across NSW.
It will be an offence to damage an AOBV without the appropriate approval (such as a development consent). Any development proposal located on an AOBV must be assessed using the biodiversity assessment method.
AOBVs are excluded from the land management framework set out in the Local Land Services Amendment Bill. This means clearing under the codes is not permitted in an AOBV.
Consultation will continue
- The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 enables the Minister for the Environment to make wildlife management codes of practice. Additional codes will be developed with key stakeholders and exhibited in 2017.
- Further consultation on the detailed sub-criteria for AOBV will take place in 2017 as the Regulation is made.
- The NSW Government is strengthening strategic partnerships with wildlife rehabilitation providers to improve local wildlife populations. The NSW Government will contact the peak body representing the wildlife rehabilitation sector and key licensed individuals in early 2017 to discuss the progress of consultation and assessment already undertaken, with a view to further developing an accreditation program with the rehabilitation sector.