Where do I find survey requirements for threatened species?
DPIE has published a series of survey guides:
Survey guides for other taxa will be available in the coming months. In the meantime, you must use a scientifically robust, fit for purpose and repeatable method to survey for the target species. Surveys must be conducted in accordance with available taxa-specific guides, including published peer reviewed guidelines and survey guidelines published by the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy.
More information about survey requirements is available in the threatened biodiversity data collection (in BioNet) including the optimal month of survey, the unit of measure and other information in the ‘General Notes’ field.
What do I do if no survey month is specified in the Biodiversity Assessment Method Calculator (BAM-C) for a flora species?
Some flora species profiles do not specify survey months. This can happen if:
- the species is ephemeral and needs rain or a disturbance event before it will emerge
- the best time for survey differs across the species’ range or
- the plant is above ground for less than a month.
For these species, refer to the ‘General Notes’ field under ‘Ecological data’ in the threatened biodiversity data collection in BioNet. The notes will specify any environmental conditions required for survey, or the best time to survey for that species within a particular population or a region, or other tips to help locate and identify the plant (e.g. seeds are fluffy). You will need to obtain an expert report if the necessary environmental conditions for survey cannot be met.
Can I vary the survey month for species credit species?
Surveys must be conducted at the optimum time for detecting the species.
Optimum survey months for a species are shown in the threatened biodiversity data collection (TBDC) in BioNet and automatically populated in the BAM-C.
It is important that you check the ‘General Notes’ field in the TBDC for additional information about appropriate survey months. For example, if survey months differ across the species distribution (e.g. earlier in northern than southern areas) or if a survey should be timed to meet specific environmental conditions (e.g. within a set number of days post rainfall).
You may adjust survey timing if, for example:
- the species is flowering/fruiting out of season and these features are required for visibility or identification
- natural disturbances or climatic events have occurred (e.g. recent fire, flood or rainfall)
- ground disturbances have occurred (e.g. for species frequently found in disturbed road verges, fire obligates).
You must justify your reason for varying survey times in the biodiversity assessment report using appropriate published or peer-reviewed references and/or field data.
What happens if I can’t meet the specific survey requirements for a species?
The Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) provides a series of options to determine presence/absence of a species credit species on the subject land. If the specific survey requirements can't be met, an expert report can be used (read section 6.5.2 BAM (PDF 1.19MB) or the proponent can choose to assume the presence of a species on the subject land (see section 6.4, Step 4 BAM (PDF 1.19MB) in place of survey.
Assuming the presence of a species on the subject land is an option only for development, clearing or biodiversity certification proposals and cannot be used to justify the presence or generate credits for a species at a biodiversity stewardship site.
Using an expert report or assuming the presence of a species may be appropriate if:
- the target species is cryptic and therefore difficult to survey
- the optimal survey time for the species has been missed or the proponent is unwilling to wait for the optimal survey season before submitting the development approval
If one of these options is selected, a targeted survey cannot subsequently be used to determined presence/absence of a species after an application for development has been lodged or approved. A targeted survey may be carried out on land under a biodiversity stewardship agreement (BSA) to add species credits at a later time. Additionality may apply to the creation of the credits as set out in section 13.11 of the BAM (PDF 1.19MB).
Who can prepare an expert report?
For the purposes of the BAM, an expert is a person who, in the opinion of the Environment Agency Head, possesses specialised knowledge based on training, study or experience to provide an expert opinion about the relevant biodiversity values.
Experts and the use of expert reports is described in section 6.5.2 of the BAM (PDF 1.19MB). Our website publishes the list of experts.
You should discuss the intention to use an expert report with us early in the assessment process, particularly if the expert is not included on the published list of experts.
Can I use results from past surveys for threatened species?
You can use the results of previous surveys if a targeted species survey was undertaken on the subject land within five years of the current proposal lodgement date, and the survey meets the requirements for the BAM as outlined in the BAM Operational Manual – Stage 1 (PDF 1.3MB).
The use of a past survey must be documented in the biodiversity assessment report. Surveys undertaken more than five years before the proposal lodgement date may be used to inform the assessment process but can't be used in place of a targeted species survey. Time limitations are imposed to ensure the data used in assessments reflect the current biodiversity values on the subject land.