Under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act), the management of interactions with native animals and plants is proposed to change to a new risk-based approach where:
- low-risk activities will be exempt from regulation
- moderate-risk activities will be regulated by enforceable codes of practice
- high-risk activities will continue to be licensed.
The level of risk is based on the likely impacts on:
- populations of native animals and plants
- animal welfare
- human health and safety.
The BC Act has a range of offences related to wildlife, such as harming animals, picking certain plants and buying and selling plants and animals.
To avoid committing an offence, any wildlife activity that is not exempt or covered by a code of practice will require a biodiversity conservation licence of the relevant licence class, unless a defence applies.
Some activities will continue to be prohibited and will not be allowed under an exemption, code or licence, for example, harming koalas.
Benefits of a risk-based approach
The new approach to wildlife management will:
- allow government to focus resources on compliance and enforcement for higher risk activities
- reduce the administration burden for community members undertaking lower risk wildlife activities
- provide a greater focus on education to improve community knowledge and understanding of wildlife conservation and protection, and the impacts of human-wildlife interactions.
Timeline for implementation
Existing wildlife licence classes, conditions and fees remain in place until the new risk-based approach to wildlife licensing is implemented.
Targeted consultation has already been undertaken with key stakeholders about proposed changes to existing wildlife licence classes and proposed codes of practice.
Public consultation is scheduled to take place in the first half of 2018 on:
- proposed changes to existing wildlife licence classes
- proposed codes of practice.