Accreditation to apply the Biodiversity Assessment Method

Under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the Minister for the Environment is responsible for adopting a scheme to accredit assessors to apply the Biodiversity Assessment Method.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) is responsible for accrediting assessors under the scheme. The detailed arrangements for the accreditation scheme are set out in the Accreditation Scheme for the Application of the Biodiversity Assessment Method Order 2017 (PDF 868KB).

The accreditation scheme is designed to ensure that the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) is applied by people with appropriate ecological skills, knowledge and experience, and a demonstrated understanding of the method.

Please note that the BAM is only required for some development or activities, and only where the impacts of a proposal trigger thresholds established by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. This means that suitably qualified ecological consultants, who may not be BAM accredited assessors, may undertake other work related to the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, such as carrying out a test of significance, or undertaking other environmental assessments required by the consent authority.

For more information about when the BAM will apply (and therefore in what circumstances accreditation is required to undertake an assessment of impacts on biodiversity), see Offsets Scheme entry requirements.

Overview of BAM assessor accreditation

To be eligible for accreditation, a person must:

  • be ‘fit and proper’, in accordance with the criteria in the Accreditation Scheme Order
  • have successfully completed BAM Assessor training
  • have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience (such as academic qualifications and/or relevant work experience).

To gain accreditation, the applicant first needs to successfully complete BAM training with the training provider, Muddy Boots. When the training provider notifies the Department that the training course participant has been evaluated as competent in all the assessment tasks presented during the training course, the Department will send an invitation to submit an application for accreditation.

An application (together with an application fee of $200) demonstrating how the applicant meets the eligibility criteria is then submitted. The Department will review the application and if approved an accreditation term fee ($300) will need to be paid.

Accredited assessors are required to adopt a code of conduct. This includes a commitment to operating with integrity and within professional standards.

Accredited assessors are listed on a public register.

Accredited assessors must complete a continuing professional development log to demonstrate their continued engagement with the BAM and maintenance of technical skills. This helps to ensure a high standard of work is maintained. 

The accreditation scheme also allows the Department to audit biodiversity assessment reports (BAR) and review application of the BAM by accredited assessors. The Department can also vary, cancel or suspend accreditation. This helps to ensure that assessments comply with the BAM. For example, we may cancel or suspend accreditation where an audit establishes a failure to comply with the requirements of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, or the BAM.

First audit of Accredited Assessors

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has commenced an audit of the Accredited Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) Assessors. The audit, in accordance with section 20 of the Accreditation Scheme for the Application of the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) Order 2017, may check either:

  1. compliance by an accredited person with the conditions of their accreditation
  2. biodiversity assessment reports prepared by an accredited person
  3. the application of the BAM by an accredited person.

The audit has focused on Part 4 local development (Council Development Applications) and is due for completion in early 2021. It seeks to assess compliance, identify opportunities for education and ongoing scheme improvement, as well as identify areas to target for future audits.

The Department has selected a representative sample of Biodiversity Development Assessment Reports (BDARs) to audit. The accredited assessors whose BDARs were selected, were contacted by the Department for the provision of relevant records and to arrange a time for an interview. All interviews with audited accredited assessors and consultation with participating councils is now complete across New South Wales.

Feedback from both participating councils and audited accredited assessors has been considered when identifying key recommendations and outcomes from the audit. The Department has identified recommendations that focus on improvements to processes, systems and guidance for all stakeholders.

The Department is also working to identify key areas of improvement for individual accredited assessors. We will contact audited accredited assessors at the completion of the audit program to discuss their individual findings and any recommendations. We will also provide councils who participated in the audit with feedback after completion of the audit program.

Making complaints or providing feedback about an accredited assessor

Receiving complaints and feedback about an accredited assessor is part of the quality assurance of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS).

You should only make a complaint or feedback about an assessor's work or behaviour about their work on Biodiversity Assessment Reports (e.g. BDARs, BSSARs, BCARs) and their role in the BOS. Other complaints or feedback about an assessor are outside the scope of the policy.

The Accredited Assessors Complaints and feedback Management Policy provides the approach taken by the Department to consider and respond to any complaints received.

Please use the Assessor Complaints and feedback form (PDF 39KB) to provide the information required by the Department.

You should send your complaints or feedback about an assessor after a Biodiversity Assessment Method assessment. It is expected that government decision makers will try to resolve any issues that arise during the review of individual BARs.

A person making a complaint/feedback should have first-hand experience of the incident being complained about or be able to provide clear evidence.

Lodging complaints based on reputation or third-party comments does not fit the requirements of the process.

Anonymous complaints are not encouraged but will be accepted. Without knowing who the complainant is we are unable to verify or request extra information, which may limit our ability to investigate.

The Department handles all information provided in connection with complaints and feedback in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, including keeping complainants' identities confidential.

Find an accredited assessor

The Department keeps a public register of individuals accredited to apply the BAM, or accredited assessors, as required by the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017. The register helps identify accredited assessors and their contact details. 

Access the register