Biodiversity

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 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.
 
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. 
 
The reforms establish a framework to avoid, minimise and offset impacts on biodiversity from development through the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.
 

Biodiversity Offsets Scheme

The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme creates a transparent, consistent and scientifically based approach to biodiversity assessment and offsetting for all types of development that are likely to have a significant impact on biodiversity. 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.
 

Land Management

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

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. 
 

Regional Local Government Support Officers 

The NSW Government recognises that local government is a key partner in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species in NSW.  Eight regionally based support officers across NSW will build the capacity of local councils in transitioning and implementing the biodiversity reforms. Contact details and locations of these officers are available.

Local Government's role

Local Government has an essential role to play in managing and planning for biodiversity. Councils can develop biodiversity strategies and plans, make changes to land use planning instruments to incorporate the protection of biodiversity and actively manage biodiversity through specific programs and projects.

View case studies on this topic.

NSW Legislation repealed

Legislation repealed through the reform process includes the Native Vegetation Act 2003, Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 and parts of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

LGNSW's Submission to the NSW Land Management and Conservation Reforms (PDF, 432KB).

Consultation with local government on biodiversity reforms

During the consultation phase, LGNSW invited all NSW councils to participate in a webinar held on Thursday 19 May where NSW Government staff briefed members on the reforms. View a recording of this webinar.

Technical workshops were delivered by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), supported by LGNSW with a focus on biodiversity offsets. These workshops were held across 10 locations, involving 215 participants from 75 councils.