The Biodiversity Values Map and Biodiversity Certification and what it means for the future development of a property

This fact sheet for solicitors and conveyancers outlines information on how the Biodiversity Values Map and Biodiversity Certification can affect the future development of land.

Trees, cattle, farmland in Kangaroo Valley

Biodiversity Values Map

The Biodiversity Values Map (BV Map) shows land highly valued in New South Wales for its native vegetation, threatened species and habitats. The BV Map is prepared by the Department of Planning and Environment under Part 7 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

The BV Map forms part of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme threshold. It is one of the triggers for determining whether the Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS) applies to a clearing or development proposal. The BOS requires damage to biodiversity from land clearing and development to be avoided and minimised before offsetting any residual development impacts by permanently protecting another site with similar biodiversity values.

How does the Biodiversity Values Map affect the future development and clearing of land

Local developments requiring consent from councils or clearing regulated by the State Environmental Planning Policy (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021 – Chapter 2 Vegetation in non-rural areas that involves clearing native vegetation or other impacts on biodiversity on an area on the BV Map will trigger the BOS. A development or clearing proposal that triggers the BOS will require the proponent to engage an Accredited Assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR).

A BDAR identifies the biodiversity credits required to offset unavoidable impacts of a development or clearing proposal. Fulfilling credit obligations, known as 'retiring biodiversity credits', will be a condition of development consent. There are a range of options for meeting credit obligations.

Biodiversity Values Map and Threshold Tool image

How to check if a property is on the Biodiversity Values Map

You can view the BV Map in the Biodiversity Values Map and Threshold (BMAT) Tool. Refer to the BMAT Tool User Guide on how to find a property and see if it contains any land on the BV Map. Prospective buyers are advised to check if all or part of a property is on the BV Map and be aware of how that may affect future development.

Land can be added or removed in updates to the BV Map, and the BMAT Tool should be used to view the current version of the map.

Other ways development and clearing proposals can trigger the Biodiversity Offset Scheme

A development or clearing proposal can also be triggered into the BOS if it proposes to clear native vegetation that exceeds the area clearing threshold for that land. This threshold applies across New South Wales and is based on the minimum lot size, for example, for lots with a minimum lot size of <1 ha, the area clearing threshold is 0.25 ha. Proponents must also carry out a threatened species test of significance for all local development proposals that do not exceed the BOS Threshold. If the test of significance finds that a development would have a significant impact, a BDAR would be required.

Biodiversity Certification

What it means when land is biodiversity certified

A planning certificate will indicate if land is biodiversity certified.

Biodiversity certification assesses the biodiversity impacts of future development at a landscape scale. This avoids needing to assess biodiversity impacts of development on a site-by-site scale.

The process identifies:

  • areas that can be developed after they are certified
  • measures to offset the residual impacts of proposed development.

The Department of Planning and Environment maintains a register of orders conferring biodiversity certification as required by section 9.7(f) of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and section 126ZU of the repealed Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

Prospective buyers should be made aware of the implications of biodiversity certification on their property

If the planning certificate indicates that 'YES' land is biodiversity certified, then the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will not apply.

If the planning certificate states that 'NO' land is not biodiversity certified, landholders will need to check if any of the BOS triggers outlined above apply to the development proposal.