Native vegetation regulatory map land categorisation and the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme

The native vegetation regulatory map (NVR map) designates New South Wales land into several land management categories.

Each category of the NVR map is determined by criteria within the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) and Local Land Services Regulation 2014 (LLS Regulation). 

Transitional NVR map

A transitional NVR Map has been published. This transitional map doesn’t include category 1-exempt land and only partly includes category 2-regulated land. 

During the ‘transitional period’ landholders/proponents are responsible for determining the land management categories that apply under the LLS Act. 

See `Additional support' for more information about the transitional NVR Map and information about land management categories that may apply.

The landholder/proponent can undertake an assessment to establish land categorisation for a clearing or development proposal. This assessment can be used as one of the inputs to determine if the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS) applies and what assessment requirements apply under the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM). 

Clearing or development proposals on category 1-exempt land and the BOS

Contact the BOS Help Desk if you need additional guidance to determine NVR Map land categorisation for application in the BOS. For State Significant Development or Infrastructure proposals, guidance may also be sought from the relevant Biodiversity Conservation Division Regional Planning team.

Category 1-exempt land and the BOS threshold

When determining whether a clearing or development proposal exceeds the BOS threshold (i.e. the area clearing threshold and clearing on the biodiversity values map), any part of the proposal that involves the clearing of native vegetation on category 1-exempt land is generally not considered (BC Act, section 7.4). 

However, the test of significance (BC Act, section 7.3) must still be applied to a development or clearing proposal on category 1-exempt land. If that test of significance determines there is likely to be a significant impact on threatened species, ecological communities, or their habitats found on the category 1-exempt land, then assessment of prescribed impacts under the BAM will be required. 

In practice, this means the BOS won’t apply to proposed clearing of category 1-exempt land if a significant impact is not likely according to the test of significance. If a clearing or development site is only partially located on category 1-exempt land, the BOS threshold and the test of significance must be considered for any proposed clearing or development impacts on the remaining land to determine whether the BOS applies.

Category 1-exempt land and the Biodiversity Assessment Method

An assessment of prescribed impacts is required on category 1-exempt land for clearing or development proposals when the BOS applies (BAM 2020, Subsection 1.5.1(d.)). Requirements for assessing prescribed impacts are set out in the BAM.  Retiring biodiversity credits can be proposed to mitigate or offset prescribed impacts (BAM 2020, Section 8.6).

Clearing native vegetation on category 1-exempt land doesn’t require assessment for the purposes of calculating a credit obligation (BAM 2020, Subsection 1.5.1(d.)). In practice, impact assessment and offset calculations relating to vegetation integrity and habitat suitability are not required on category 1-exempt land. Areas of category 1-exempt land aren’t included in assessment in the BAM Calculator. 

Any part of the subject land that isn’t category 1–exempt land is to be considered in accordance with the BAM if the BOS applies.

Additional BAM considerations include:

  • NVR map land categorisation determines whether the streamlined assessment module – scattered trees assessment – can be applied and supports the definition of scattered trees (BAM 2020, Appendix B.1)
  • In Stage 3: Improving Biodiversity Values, native vegetation on category 1-exempt land is considered at high risk of decline in vegetation integrity (BAM 2020, Subsection 11.4.1(6)).

Category 1-exempt land and critically endangered ecological communities and species of plants

Critically endangered ecological communities (CEECs) and critically endangered species of plants are designated as category 2-sensitive regulated land on the native vegetation regulatory map (NVR map). 

However, state-wide comprehensive mapping of all CEECs and critically endangered species of plants is not currently published within the transitional NVR Map. Published mapping may also require further site-scale refinement.

During the NVR map transitional period, the following assessment of category 1-exempt land will apply to all clearing or development proposals to which the BOS applies. State significant development and state significant infrastructure proposals, including those with Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements issued, should also provide the following information.

  • Accredited assessors must take an evidence-based approach to making a reasonable approximation of unpublished land categories. 
  • An application for clearing or development approval submitted to a decision-maker should clearly identify land determined to be category 1-exempt land alongside supporting documentation and data.
  • As part of the supporting documentation for a reasonable approximation of category 1-exempt land, the proponent should provide evidence from a site-based floristic assessment to demonstrate whether a CEEC and/or critically endangered plants are present or absent. 

Clearing or development proposals on category 2 land and the BOS

Development within the meaning of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) on category 2 lands, including regulated land, vulnerable regulated land and sensitive regulated land as described in the LLS Act, will continue to be subject to the standard BOS entry requirements. The BOS will apply to clearing that is not associated with development within the meaning of the EP&A Act on category 2 lands, where Native Vegetation Panel approval is required under Division 6 of the LLS Act.

Additional support

Landholders or their nominated agent can ask for a Category Explanation Report (CER) for the transitional NVR map for their land. The CER provides a landholder with detailed information about the different published data layers applying to their land. If applicable, landholders can also ask for a Landholder Initiated Map Review. Depending on the outcome, there may be an update to the map. 

Landholders can also ask for a review of the Biodiversity Values Map for a property if the landholder or agent thinks a biodiversity value has been incorrectly mapped. 

For general enquiries about the BOS or this information, contact the Department online at BOS Support

If you need to discuss  an in-progress assessment please contact the relevant Environment and Heritage Group regional office.

You can also contact your regional Local Land Services office via the Contact my local office webpage or call 1300 795 299.