Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

Biodiversity and threatened species resources for local government

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

As land use planners, local government is responsible for planning and regulating many activities which may impact on biodiversity and threatened species. Councils also manage large areas of public land, much of which contains important biodiversity values.

This web page and those linked to it were created to provide a resource for councils to more easily access information to assist them in understanding their obligations and functions under various Acts relating to biodiversity and threatened species, and to showcase the work of councils and OEH.

  • Biodiversity surveys and mapping –  examples of biodiversity surveys, vegetation and habitat maps prepared by councils and OEH.
  • Strategic planning – examples of biodiversity strategies, corridor mapping, vegetation protection orders and the incorporation of biodiversity information into strategic planning documents.
  • Environmental impact assessment and compliance – examples from councils and OEH of checklists and guidelines on the assessment process, to assist in determining councils' legislative obligations. This section includes compliance and enforcement information to assist councils when a ‘harm’ or ‘pick’ of a threatened species may have occurred.
  • Bushland and natural area management – information to assist with the management of natural areas including council plans of management, operational guidelines, grants, best practice guidelines, protocols, projects and initiatives.

Biodiversity surveys and mapping

Consistent and accurate mapping of vegetation, communities and habitats are essential tools for planning and management purposes. Councils need reliable data and accurate maps to make balanced and defensible decisions in relation to development and planning issues, and to undertake day-to-day operations.

These resources provide a guide to the standard techniques to employ when undertaking mapping and data collection. If you are planning to undertake broad surveys in your LGA, talk to OEH during the project planning stage, to ensure consistency in data collection and so your results can be pooled into broader regional studies. Some examples are also provided of council mapping results.

Survey guidelines

Survey and mapping reports

LGA-wide mapping completed by

Council mapping of bushland reserves on web

Regional surveys

Threatened species mapping

Strategic planning

Consideration of biodiversity at the strategic planning stage is critical for achieving good conservation outcomes. There are usually more options available for conservation and management at the strategic planning stage. By contrast, conservation at the development assessment stage is often ad-hoc and options are often limited.

Links are provided to council biodiversity strategies, corridor mapping, vegetation protection orders and how councils have incorporated biodiversity information into strategic planning documents.

Biodiversity strategies

Incorporation of vegetation mapping into strategic planning and policy documents

Vegetation Protection Orders

Commonwealth guides on strategic planning

Councils that have threatened species notation on s149 Certificates

Environmental impact assessment and compliance

Links are provided to a number of guidelines for council officers when undertaking impact assessments. It also includes guidelines for developers that some councils have released. 

Council guidelines for applicants

Councils that have internal DA assessment checklists for council planners to ensure biodiversity is adequately assessed

State government guidelines

Offset policies


Threatened species recovery planning documents (to be taken into account when undertaking assessment of significance)


Councils have an important investigation and enforcement role in relation to illegal actions that impact on threatened species. Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, councils have significant powers to issue notices and orders requiring a person to do or refrain from doing certain things. Councils also have an important role in reducing the incidence of unauthorised clearing. Consent conditions should be carefully worded to minimise ambiguity around retention of native vegetation and habitats at sites. The incidence of unauthorised clearing can also be reduced by close management of contractors working on council land where threatened species occur.

The following information is provided to reduce the incidence of illegal clearing and to outline the information that OEH would require to conduct an investigation. An early notification will greatly assist OEH in the process of investigations.

Council information

OEH information

Bushland and natural area management

Examples are provided below of plans, projects and initiatives that relate to the management of natural areas including council plans of management, operational guidelines, grants, best practice guidelines and private land incentive schemes.

On ground management

Many councils have plans of management for reserves. Some examples:

Priority rating for bushland works

Best practice guidelines and demonstration sites

Outdoor staff, contract and volunteer management

OEH licensing


Good neighbour programs

Creating gardens for wildlife

Private land incentives

Funding opportunities


Page last updated: 25 January 2018