Compliance and enforcement programs

The Department of Planning and Environment has legal responsibility to protect the natural environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage across NSW. To meet these requirements, we oversee a range of programs and activities to promote compliance with the law and monitor non-compliance.

Person in yellow hard hat, orange vest with back-pack and holding clip board walking across cleared land.

Our compliance and enforcement work upholds government legislation and ensures fair and safe application of the law. The focus of this work is to protect the environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage to achieve better environmental outcomes for New South Wales.


Our compliance and enforcement programs complement other NSW government programs, such as funding by the NSW Environmental Trust and Biodiversity Conservation Trust, strategic land-use planning and education, and community engagement. These programs aim to ensure that our environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage is valued, protected and sustainably managed.

What we do

Through education, support, monitoring, investigation and regulatory action, we optimise compliance with:

How we work

We work to:

  • encourage compliance and best practice in environmental protection management
  • detect potential breaches of the law through surveillance and community outreach
  • analyse land-change satellite imagery to monitor vegetation across New South Wales
  • investigate potential breaches of the law using a risk-based approach to prioritise compliance issues and focus on the highest conservation priorities across New South Wales
  • remediate harm to the environment and provide community-wide deterrence.


Outcomes we deliver for the community and the environment across New South Wales include:

  • improved compliance with environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage protection laws
  • prevention of unlawful vegetation clearing and harm, damage and cumulative impacts to biodiversity at a bioregional scale
  • maintaining the integrity of state-wide regulatory frameworks that govern biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage
  • remediation of damaged ecosystems and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Compliance functions

The Biodiversity and Conservation Division takes a risk-based, outcomes-focussed approach to prioritise compliance issues across New South Wales. We help people to comply with the law but take firm and fair enforcement action for matters that are intentional and cause significant harm to the environment. Our work is undertaken in accordance with our Compliance Policy (PDF 542KB).

Our values and conduct

In performing their duties, our officers will uphold the NSW Public Sector core values of integrity, trust, service and accountability. Our behaviour and actions will be in keeping with the Department’s Code of Ethics and Conduct and Compliance Policy.

Helping people comply

We recognise community diversity and acknowledge the breadth of expertise, experiences and values amongst the people with whom we work.

In working with the community, we seek to respect people’s circumstances and understand community perceptions of conservation values. We will work with the community, providing information and education where required, to encourage the conservation and protection of NSW environment and heritage.

Focus on conservation outcomes

We follow a graduated approach to compliance and enforcement to ensure protection of environment and heritage in NSW. Wherever possible, our officers will deliver compliance actions and regulatory responses that are appropriate and proportionate to the level of harm to environment and heritage values.

We will also publicise important regulatory outcomes to demonstrate our commitment to conserving these values and to deter offences within the community.

Regulating firmly and fairly

We enforce the laws we administer in a professional, consistent and fair manner. We will ensure transparent and evidence-based compliance decisions. We will regularly evaluate and review compliance and enforcement policies and approaches to achieve these aims.

We have a range of compliance and enforcement options to respond to breaches of the law.

Prosecution Guidelines

The OEH Prosecution Guidelines contain the factors we consider when deciding whether, how and in what court to prosecute offences. 

Enforceable undertakings

The Environment, Energy and Science Coordinator-General can accept an enforceable undertaking for matters under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and land management matters under the Local Land Services Act 2013. Our Guidelines for Enforceable Undertakings contain details about the purpose of enforceable undertakings, possible terms of any negotiated enforceable undertaking, and factors we consider when deciding whether to accept an enforceable undertaking.

The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) is the primary legislation for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in New South Wales. The NPW Act provides specific protection for Aboriginal objects and declared Aboriginal places.

More information about the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage is available.

To report harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage items or sites call the Environment Line phone 131 555.

The Department manages compliance under the NPW Act. 

It is an offence to knowingly or unknowingly harm or desecrate Aboriginal Places and objects, without an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit or in some cases, unless an exemption applies. The strict liability offences penalties are outlined in Section 86 of the NPW Act. The exemptions are outlined in Section 87A of the NPW Act. 

To report potential or alleged harm to heritage items of State significance, complete the Report a potential breach of the Heritage Act 1977 form (DOCX 60KB) and return it to Heritage NSW.

Heritage NSW manages compliance under the Heritage Act 1977. 

The Heritage Compliance Framework guides how compliance is managed. 

The Heritage Compliance Policy outlines the principles used to provide fair, legally robust, credible and consistent decision making.

More information about the protection of environmental heritage is available.

From 25 August 2017, Biodiversity and Conservation Division is responsible for compliance and enforcement of Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013. Under this legislation we work to achieve a balance between protecting biodiversity, allowing lawful clearing and preventing unlawful clearing. We also ensure that serious unlawful activity under the previous legislation, the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NV Act), will be pursued.

Consistent with our Policy for resolving NV Act matters, we will continue to assess potential unlawful clearing activities that may have occurred before 25 August 2017 as possible breaches of the NV Act, in accordance with the OEH Prosecution Guidelines and Compliance Policy.

More information about our compliance and enforcement work under the Local Land Services Act 2013 is available.  

Native animals are protected in New South Wales by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act). We are responsible for conserving and managing all protected plants and animals, including kangaroos. Under the BC Act, it is an offence to harm, buy or sell kangaroos for commercial purposes without a licence.

The main goal of our kangaroo management program is conservation. We work to ensure kangaroo populations are harvested humanely and populations remain ecologically sustainable.

More information about kangaroo management is available.