Biodiversity certification

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 establishes a scheme for the biodiversity certification of land.

What is biodiversity certification?

Biodiversity certification offers a streamlined biodiversity assessment process for areas of land that are proposed for development.

The process identifies areas that can be developed after they are certified and measures to offset the impacts of development. Where land is certified, development may proceed without the usual requirement for site by site assessment. It is particularly suitable when strategic land use planning at a landscape scale is proposed or underway.

Because biodiversity certification addresses the potential impacts on biodiversity during the early planning of land use change, it encourages planning authorities and landholders to design their development footprint in a way that avoids and minimises impacts on land with biodiversity values. Ideally these areas are protected from the impacts of future development. This results in:

  • better biodiversity outcomes than site-by-site assessment
  • upfront certainty for developers and the community about the development potential and conservation outcomes for an area.

Who can apply for biodiversity certification?

Planning authorities (such as local government and the Department of Planning Industry and Environment) and individuals can apply for biodiversity certification.

Biodiversity certification can apply to a broad range of proposals and is available for urban and rural areas.

Two types of biodiversity certification are available:

  • Standard - available to landholders and planning authorities
  • Strategic - available only to planning authorities and must be declared strategic by the Minister for the Environment. 

How are biodiversity impacts assessed and offset?

Biodiversity impacts of biodiversity certification proposals are assessed using the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) - the same method that is used to assess impacts for single sites under the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. This ensures consistency of biodiversity outcomes within the planning system.

Standard biodiversity certification proposals must offset biodiversity impacts by retiring biodiversity credits, as is required for individual developments under the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. Offset obligations may also be met by making a payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.

Strategic biodiversity certification applications may use additional conservation measures to meet an offset obligation.

The additional measures ensure the strategic biodiversity certification process can respond to cumulative impacts and support enhanced conservation outcomes at a landscape or regional scale. 

Visit Biodiversity certification process for more information.