Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value

Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are special areas with irreplaceable biodiversity values that are important to the whole of NSW, Australia or globally.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act gives the Minister for the Environment the power to declare Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value (AOBVs). The purpose of declaring AOBVs is to identify, highlight and effectively manage sites that make significant contributions to the persistence of biodiversity in New South Wales, Australia and globally. AOBVs are a priority for investment in private land conservation under the Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy.

Areas of declared critical habitat under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, including Little Penguin and Wollemi Pine declared areas, have become the first AOBVs in New South Wales with the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 establishes the criteria for declaring AOBVs. The criteria have been designed to identify the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation in New South Wales.

Your questions

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 provides legal protections for AOBVs, recognising these areas will represent the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation across NSW. It is an offence to damage an AOBV without appropriate approval such as a development consent. Any development proposal located on an AOBV must be assessed using the Biodiversity Assessment Method.

AOBVs are excluded from the land management framework set out in the Local Land Services Act 2013. This means clearing under the codes is not permitted in an AOBV.

The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation provides additional detail on how the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will assess if an area meets the eligibility requirements for an AOBV set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The criteria in the regulation are designed to identify the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation in New South Wales, with a focus on sites with highly distinctive biodiversity or features critical to the future of biodiversity in New South Wales. They include, for example, unique components of genetic diversity that enable species to adapt to changing environments, habitat critical for the survival of threatened species or features that support species migration and dispersal.