Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

Local government information and resources

Local government is a key partner in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species in NSW.  

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 commenced on 25 August 2017.  This page provides a resource for local government to support implementation of the new biodiversity assessment and approval framework.

Transitional arrangements

More information about arrangements for transitioning from the former legislative framework.

Development assessment

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, together with the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, outlines the framework for assessment and approval of biodiversity impacts associated with developments that require consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The Act introduces a Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.  A development to which the Biodiversity Offset Scheme applies will be required to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report to accompany a development application.

More information on the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is available.

  • For an introduction to how the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme works
  • For more detail about key elements of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme, including serious and irreversible impacts and the offset rules
  • For access to relevant systems and registers that support the operation of the scheme, see BOAMS and registers     

Biodiversity certification is another key tool under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 that is important for local government, and is integrated in the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. More information about biodiversity certification.

Vegetation management

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (‘Vegetation SEPP’) regulates the clearing of vegetation in urban LGAs, as well as urban and environmental zones across the State, where clearing does not otherwise require development consent under the EP&A Act. 

The Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) regulates the management of vegetation on rural land.  Read more about when the LLS Act applies at  Native Vegetation Regulatory Maps.

The Biodiversity Offset Scheme will also apply to certain vegetation clearing activities regulated by the Vegetation SEPP and the LLS Act. Read more about when the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme applies.

Assessment and Approval Pathway Navigator

OEH is developing a navigator to support both proponents and consent authorities to work through which assessment and approval pathway is likely to be relevant for a particular activity.

The navigator will be available soon.

Implementation support

Regional support network

OEH is partnering with the local government sector to employ 8 regionally based officers to provide help desk support to groups of Councils.

Negotiations are in progress for hosting of regional support officer positions.  Announcements on host organisations and locations will be coming soon.

In the interim, all queries may be directed to or to local OEH contacts


Approvers training

In conjunction with training provider Muddy Boots, OEH has developed a training package tailored to the needs of those with an approval role under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

Training for local government staff will be available in two formats.

Standard Approvers course is available over one day. This course focuses on introducing approvers to new concepts, tools and roles introduced by the land management and biodiversity conservation reforms. This course contains content to provide participants with a general understanding of their role within the offsets scheme.

An Extended Approvers course will include the Standard Approvers course (Day 1) and a more in-depth training on biodiversity assessment processes and the operation of the Biodiversity Offset Scheme (Day 2). Participants in the Extended Approvers course will need to have completed the Standard Approvers course as a pre-requisite. The two days do not necessarily need to be completed at the same time, but Day 1 must be completed first. Completion of the Extended Approvers course is recommended for local government staff with decision making roles in biodiversity impact assessment.

Sponsored training places

OEH is sponsoring training for a number of local government staff prior to and following commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Funded places are managed to ensure equitable access across the State. OEH will initially sponsor three training places for each Council. Sponsorship is available for both Standard and Extended courses.

As sponsored places are limited, please ensure that your participation is supported by your employer. Please note that once attendance has been confirmed, failure to attend a training course may result in the forfeit of a sponsored place.

There is no limit to the number of staff that a Council may seek to have trained at their own cost. 

OEH will continually review the allocation of sponsored training places as the training rolls out. New opportunities for sponsored training will be advertised on this website.

Register for training at Greencap.

Coming soon

OEH and partners are continuing to develop systems and products to support Councils in implementing the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

Future updates will include:

  • Biodiversity assessment and approvals navigator
  • Test of significance guidelines
  • Contact details for the support officer in your region and the services they will provide.
  • New opportunities to attend sponsored training.
  • Supporting documents, guidelines and templates.

Page last updated: 18 September 2017