The BAM is a scientific document that provides:
- a consistent method for the assessment of biodiversity values from a proposed development (including major projects), activity, clearing or biodiversity certification, as well as improvements in biodiversity values from management actions undertaken at a stewardship site
- guidance on how a proponent can avoid and minimise potential biodiversity impacts, and
- the number and class of biodiversity credits that need to be offset to achieve a standard of ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity.
The BAM is supported by the BAM calculator, which allows accredited assessors (typically ecological consultants) to enter field data and determine the number and class of biodiversity credits. The BAM Calculator will help with preparation of standardised reports for decision makers to consider.
The BAM must be applied by an accredited assessor. The assessor documents the results of the biodiversity assessment in a Biodiversity Assessment Report (BAR). Different BARs are created depending on the type of assessment undertaken. For example, a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) or Biodiversity Certification Assessment Report (BCAR) identifies:
- how the proponent proposes to avoid and minimise impacts
- any potential impact that could be characterised as serious and irreversible according to specified principles and
- the offset obligation required to offset the likely biodiversity impacts of the proposed development, activity, clearing or biodiversity certification expressed in biodiversity credits.
A Biodiversity Stewardship Site Assessment Report (BSSAR) identifies the likely gain in biodiversity values from management actions to be undertaken at a proposed stewardship site. The gain is expressed in biodiversity credits.
The BAM measures two types of credits:
- ecosystem credits, which measure the offset requirement for impacts on threatened ecological communities, threatened species habitat for species that can be reliably predicted to occur with a plant community type, and other plant community types generally
- species credits, which measure the offset requirement for impacts on threatened species individuals or area of habitat.
A proponent must provide the BAR to the decision-maker or the Biodiversity Conservation Trust as part of their development, activity, clearing, biodiversity certification or stewardship site application. A BDAR and a BCAR will be placed on public exhibition with the relevant application.
New BAM 2020
The BAM 2020 comes into force on 22 October 2020. The Biodiversity Assessment Method 2020 – What’s New fact sheet outlines the key amendments made to BAM 2017. Clause 6.31 of the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 provides transitional arrangements to minimise the impact that amendments to the BAM may have on proponents and landholders with a biodiversity assessment underway. This includes assessments for development, activities, clearing, biodiversity certification and biodiversity stewardship agreements.
From 22 October 2020, transitional arrangements allow proponents and landholders to submit a biodiversity assessment report based on BAM 2017, for:
- 12 months or such longer period as the Minister approves for applications for strategic biodiversity certification
- 12 months for state significant development or infrastructure and non-strategic (standard) biodiversity certification
- 6 months for all other development and clearing applications or biodiversity stewardship applications.
If the transitional arrangements are applied to a proposed development, activity, clearing, biodiversity certification or stewardship site, ensure the original BAM 2017 and supporting documents are applied rather than the BAM 2020. The accredited assessor must ensure this is clearly stated in the Biodiversity Assessment Report. The BAM Calculator will be updated on 22 October 2020 to align with BAM 2020. From 22 October 2020, the assessor can use the updated BAM calculator for development, activity, clearing or biodiversity certification proposals regardless of whether BAM 2017 or BAM 2020 is being applied. If the assessor proposes to apply BAM 2017 to a scattered tree (formerly paddock tree) or small area streamlined assessment, the assessor must contact BAM Support for guidance on how to use the BAM Calculator to apply the transitional arrangements. However, if the applicant or assessor proposes to apply BAM 2017 to a BSSAR, the applicant or assessor must contact the Biodiversity Conservation Trust to discuss use of this option.
The Operational Manual provides operational guidance to assist applicants and accredited assessors to apply the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) which is established under section 6.7 of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
The Manual is a companion document to the BAM which provides further guidance about applying the BAM to assess a site for biodiversity values for the purposes of assessing the impacts of a development, activity, clearing or biodiversity certification or for developing a management plan for land proposed for a biodiversity stewardship agreement.
The Manual is prepared in 3 separate documents to align with the structure of BAM 2020. Stage 1 and 2 have been drafted and are being finalised. In the interim, the Manual documents for Stage 1 and Stage 2 are available for the BAM 2017. Stage 3 is now available for BAM 2020.