Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are special areas that contain irreplaceable biodiversity values important to the whole of New South Wales, Australia or globally.
The Minister for Environment has the power to declare Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value. Before making a declaration, the Minister must be of the opinion that the area is important at a state, national or global scale, and meets at least one of the scientific criteria. The Biodiversity Conservation Act and Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 set out the steps that must be followed before an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value can be declared.
What are the benefits of Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value?
Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are a new and innovative conservation mechanism in New South Wales and Australia. Areas are chosen because they have been through a thorough assessment process and are found to meet one or more of the key scientific criteria set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
The Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value is a flexible conservation mechanism because it is not tied to particular landscapes or species. Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value identify the special values or features in a landscape or on a site that are critical to the survival of biodiversity in New South Wales and should be preserved. For this reason, they can capture very diverse places, sites of unique behaviours or refuges to support survival into the future. This could include threatened species or critical habitats, but also areas that:
- provide refuge for species against extreme events like bushfires and climate change
- support migratory species, for example, marshes and wetlands
- support unique and important ecological systems and processes, such as butterfly hill-topping (a mate-location behaviour observed in many insects)
- have high biological diversity
- provide connections between areas that allow species to move freely
- are critical to the persistence of threatened species, for example, Wollemi Pine habitat.
Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value can be declared on public and private land. An Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value on private land provides the landowner with an opportunity to make a significant contribution to conservation in New South Wales and to help protect our unique biodiversity for future generations to enjoy. Landowners are also eligible to receive funding and technical assistance to manage the land if they choose to enter into a private land conservation agreement.
On public land, such as national parks, Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value provide an extra layer of legal protection to an area. They can also draw attention to biodiversity values that warrant additional management and protection. This means that special actions can be identified and incorporated into park management plans for long term management and maintenance. The additional measures taken to protect the Wollemi Pines Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value during the 2019–20 bushfires are an example of the value of Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value to the conservation of these special areas.
Who can make a proposal?
Anyone can propose an area for declaration as an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value by completing a proposal form.
Once you have provided your proposal, departmental officers may contact you to discuss your proposal in more detail and to request further information if needed.