Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value

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

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

The value of Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value for conservation, compared with other measures, is in their flexibility. For example, they can be identified across a range of geographic and geological features and have no size requirements. This means that they can be applied to sites as small as cave systems, hot springs or boulder outcrops, and larger landscapes, such as wetlands, grasslands or forests. They can be targeted across a range of scales, locations or themes and be declared on public or privately-owned land.

The relevant legislative provisions for Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are Part 3, Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Part 3, Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017.

More information

Anyone can propose an area to be considered as an Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value by completing the proposal form. See Making a proposal for further information.

An area proposed as an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value must meet one or more of the criteria set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Act. Additional guidance on how these criteria are applied is set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation and the Guidelines for interpreting listing criteria for Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value.

The criteria are designed to identify the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation in New South Wales, focusing on sites with highly distinctive biodiversity or features critical to the future survival of biodiversity in New South Wales. They include 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.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act provides legal protection for Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value, recognising these areas will represent some of the most valuable sites for biodiversity conservation across New South Wales. It is an offence to damage an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value unless the activity is carried out under a relevant approval such as a development consent, biodiversity conservation licence, agreement or other authority.

Once an area has been declared, it will be shown on the Biodiversity Values Map. This map identifies land with high biodiversity value that is particularly sensitive to impacts from development and clearing. Any development proposal located in an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value will trigger the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. The impacts of the proposal must be assessed using the Biodiversity Assessment Method. Offsets and/or other measures to mitigate impacts on the Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value may be required for the proposal to proceed if they cannot be avoided.

Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are excluded from the land management framework set out in the Local Land Services Act 2013. This means clearing under the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018 is not permitted.

Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value can be amended, for example, to recognise additional values or extend it over a greater area.

The same procedure for declaring an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value must be followed to amend an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value, including consultation with landholders and relevant authorities, public consultation, and advice from the advisory bodies.

If you have a proposal to amend an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value, seek advice from the Department in the first instance.

All or part of an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value can be revoked but only in very limited circumstances, such as where the Minister believes the area (or part of the area) is no longer eligible to be declared. Examples of situations where revocation could be considered would be where an area has been damaged to an extent that it no longer meets (and does not have future capacity to meet) the criteria for which it was declared an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value.

The same procedure for declaring an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value must be followed to revoke an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value, including consultation with landholders and relevant authorities, public consultation and seeking advice from the advisory bodies.

If you have a proposal to revoke an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value, seek advice from the Department in the first instance.

Guidelines

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has published guidelines to explain the terms and concepts in the scientific criteria for Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value.

Register of Declared Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value

The Register of Declared Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value has information about declared Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value in New South Wales, including declarations and maps.

Areas of declared critical habitat under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, including Little Penguin and Wollemi Pine declared areas, are now considered Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.