The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) gives the Minister for the Environment the power to declare Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value (AOBV). AOBV are special areas that contain irreplaceable biodiversity values that are important to the whole of NSW, Australia or globally. AOBV will be a priority for investment in private land conservation.
Areas of declared critical habitat under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, (including Little Penguin and Wollemi Pine declared areas), have become the first AOBV in NSW with the commencement of the BC Act. The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 establishes the criteria for declaring AOBV. The criteria have been designed to identify the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation in NSW.
1. How will Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value be identified?
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 2016.
The criteria in the regulation are designed to identify the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation in NSW, with a focus on sites with highly distinctive biodiversity or features critical to the future of biodiversity in NSW. 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.
2. What happens if my land is recommended as a potential Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value (AOBV)?
If an AOBV is recommended over your land, the Department will contact you to seek your views on the recommendation. We understand that landholder knowledge is invaluable and seek to support landholders to maintain healthy and functioning landscapes.
The Department will also be required to consult the community on any recommendations to declare an area as an AOBV. The Department will also seek the advice of the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (which manages private land conservation across NSW), the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee and the Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Panel on any proposed declarations of an AOBV.
The Department will consider all feedback before providing the recommendation to the Minister for the Environment.
The Minister may, after considering a recommendation prepared by the Department, declare an area to be an AOBV if he or she believes the area meets the eligibility criteria.
Because AOBV will be a priority for government investment, an AOBV declaration can help you access funds for undertaking stewardship activities. If you have an AOBV declared over on your land, the Minister for the Environment will take reasonable steps to enter into a private land conservation agreement with you. This will allow you to access ongoing support for your positive conservation actions.
3. Are there any restrictions on use of land that is declared an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value?
The BC Act provides legal protections for AOBV, recognising these areas will represent the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation across NSW. It will be an offence to damage an AOBV without an appropriate approval such as a development consent. Any development proposal located on an AOBV must be assessed using the Biodiversity Assessment Method.
AOBV are excluded from the land management framework set out in the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016. This means clearing under the codes is not permitted in an area of outstanding biodiversity value.