Making a proposal

This fact sheet guides members of the public who wish to propose a place for declaration as an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value.

Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilisAreas 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 Energy and 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.

Little penguin, Eudyptula Minor, female at nest

Things to consider before making a proposal

Before completing a proposal form, consider carefully whether the area is likely to satisfy at least one of the scientific criteria and whether there is evidence to support this. Refer to the Guidelines for interpreting listing criteria for Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value to help you apply the scientific criteria. The guidelines also provide thresholds for meeting the criteria.

You should include as much information necessary to demonstrate the proposed area satisfies one or more of the scientific criteria. The more information provided and the better the case made for the area, the easier it will be for the proposal to be assessed.

You are encouraged to do your own research or seek expert advice where appropriate to assist in making a proposal.

You should also consider whether Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are the most suitable option to achieve your aim. Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are one of a range of conservation mechanisms available to protect land with important biodiversity values in New South Wales. Contact the Department for further information.

Manning Yellow Solanum, Solanum sulphureum, flower

Landowner support

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 sets out detailed requirements for consulting landholders and public authorities about Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value proposed on their land, as well as public consultation.

The Department has set an additional requirement for Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value proposals on private land which recognises the importance of landowner knowledge and support to the success of conserving an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value.

If you do not own the land that you want to propose as an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value and it is privately owned, your proposal must include some evidence that you have spoken to the owner of the land, not just the occupier of the land, about your proposal and that the landowner supports your proposal being made. You will need to provide the landowner's contact details so that the Department can contact him or her about the proposal. If the proposal covers multiple landowners you will need to provide contact details for each and evidence of their support. This information is mandatory. The Department will contact the landowners to verify this information.

In addition, the Department will seek the private landowner's consent at key points in the assessment process, for example, to carry out any on-site assessments and to recommend the land for declaration as an Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value to the Minister.

If your proposal is on public land then your proposal should, at a minimum, identify the local, state or other authority that is the owner or manager of the land and contact details, if available. If the proposal proceeds, the Department must seek the support of the head of the relevant authority.

Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis

What sort of information should I include in a proposal?

If you wish to propose an area for consideration, the following information is required:

  • location of the proposed area (including Lot/DP numbers if available)
  • a map of the proposed area (preferably in ESRI shapefile format)
  • an explanation of how you think the proposed area is likely to satisfy one or more of the scientific criteria
  • information about existing land uses and landowners (if known)
  • if your proposal is on private land and you are not the owner, some evidence that the landowner supports the proposal being made and contact details for the landowner
  • if your proposal is on public land, the owner or manager of the land and, if possible, contact details
  • your contact information
  • any supporting evidence, such as academic papers, published journal articles, ecological reports, studies and photos.