Nature conservation

Native animals

Scientific licences

Are you aware of upcoming changes to wildlife licensing?


The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 is scheduled to commence from 25 August 2017.

Existing wildlife licence classes, conditions and fees will remain in place after the Act begins.

Proposed changes to wildlife licensing under the new Act will be exhibited for public comment in the second half of 2017. These changes are expected to be taken up during 2018.

Learn more about the wildlife licensing reforms.

Applying for a licence

You can apply online for a scientific licence.

Look for the option 'Native Flora and Fauna Research'.

Register for a user account if you do not already have one. You can use this account to manage a range of NSW licences.

If you have any questions about applying online or want to discuss other options, please email scientific.licensing@environment.nsw.gov.au or phone the Wildlife Team on (02) 9585 6406.

For more information about the online application process, refer to the Scientific licensing FAQs.

We aim to make decisions on applications within 4 to 6 weeks of receipt of completed applications.

Fees apply to scientific licences. The fee is $50 for the initial licence and $50 for any subsequent renewal(s) of that licence.

Animal ethics

Please note that if you are researching animals, you may also have to meet obligations under the NSW Animal Research Act 1985. This is administered by NSW Department of Primary Industries.

It is useful in the assessment of your licence to submit your animal ethics application form in addition to any approval received. If you do not or are not able to submit it at the time of application, we may ask for it later. In some situations, a scientific licence may be issued without an ethics approval, but the licence will only be valid once the ethics approval has been granted.

Scientific licence class descriptions

Use this table to determine the right licence class for your project.

Licence class Description  Licence term 
Research All actions for scientific research purposes that are undertaken by academics, their students or private researchers. Projects may be specific or broad-based. Up to 3 years for low conservation risk projects.
Ecological survey/ consultancy A licence class specifically for commercial consultants who undertake general flora and fauna surveys. The location of work and target species may not be known before application and can potentially cover many sites. 1 year
Biodiversity assessment/Species Impact Statement assessments Applies to projects for Species Impact Statement preparation and for general or targeted biodiversity survey activities involving protected native plants and fauna. 1-3 years. Longer terms may be granted for projects that are associated with a government department or similar statutory authority.
Translocations/ reintroductions Projects for the experimental introduction, reintroduction or supplementation of a species to the wild. Project dependent (up to 3 years)
Bush regeneration Bush regeneration activities for conservation purposes in Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs) or the habitat of threatened species or areas of outstanding biodiversity conservation value. 2-5 years for landholder managed sites. Other sites are project dependent.
Seed collection The collection of seed or cutting material of protected flora for regeneration or propagation purposes. This is generally used in conjunction with bush regeneration applications. It excludes collection for commercial use. 2-5 years for landholder managed sites. Other sites are project dependent.
Ecological burns Permits areas of TEC or threatened species habitat to be burnt for ecological purposes. Generally used in conjunction with bush regeneration applications.   
Karst research Work within a karst environment, including any component species or habitat. Licences are only required where the research is to be conducted in the NPWS reserve system. Up to 3 years for low conservation risk projects.
Bird/bat banding Bird and bat banding activities on approved project sites in NSW. Banding approvals are issued separately via the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme. 5 years
Education Issued to educators to house some species of protected fauna at a school, or the collection of protected plant samples for teaching purposes. Can also apply to holding a reference collection of fauna specimens, excluding taxidermy animals. 3 years
Abiotic sampling Applies to projects for research and sampling of non-living specimens such as soil, water, fossil and sub-fossil material. Licences are only required where the research is to be conducted within the NPWS reserve system. Up to 3 years for low conservation risk projects.
Other Projects not adequately covered by any of the above classes e.g. visitor surveys, field trips. Up to 3 years for low conservation risk projects.

Other values

If you are working on abiotic material or your focus of work is not available in the online Flora or Fauna list, you can select one or more of the subjects below using the Species Type category, 'Other'. A licence to study these items is only required where the study locations are in national parks or reserves or occur within a threatened ecological community (TEC).

Subjects covered under 'Other' include:

  • air quality sampling
  • aquatic macro invertebrates
  • fossil material
  • leaf litter sampling
  • rock/geological sampling
  • speleothems
  • soil samples (aquatic)
  • soil samples (terrestrial)
  • sub fossil material
  • visitor survey
  • water samples.

Licence conditions, renewal and amendments

All licences are subject to general conditions. There may also be class-specific or licence-specific conditions applied to your licence. Reporting requirements will apply either annually or at the end of the licence term. Licences may be renewed if all conditions and reporting requirements are met.

Reminders outlining the renewal process will be sent to the licensee prior to licence expiry. A $50 fee for licence renewal applies.

Minor amendments to the licence such as changes in personnel, or the addition of new locations, species or techniques, may be made during the term of a licence. It will be at the discretion of OEH whether the changes require a new application, or whether the licence will be reissued.

Documents to download

Other policies and guidelines

Was this page helpful?

Thank you for your feedback.

Would you like to tell us more?

Share this

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter More...
Page last updated: 28 August 2017