This page relates to biodiversity certification under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
For information on the previous framework for biodiversity certification under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, visit Biodiversity Certification under the TSC Act.
For transitional arrangements for existing or underway applications under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 visit Transitional arrangements.
What is biodiversity certification?
Biodiversity certification is 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 to be used where strategic land use planning is proposed or underway.
As 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 avoid and minimise impacts on with biodiversity values and protects those areas. This:
- achieves better environmental outcomes compared to site-by-site assessment
- provides upfront certainty to developers and the community about the development potential and conservation outcomes for an area.
Who can seek biodiversity certification?
A broad range of proposals can access biodiversity certification under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. It is available in both urban and rural settings, and both planning authorities (such as local government, the Department of Planning and Environment and the Greater Sydney Commission) and individuals can seek biodiversity certification.
Two types of biodiversity certification are available:
- Standard - available to both landholders and planning authorities
- Strategic - available only to planning authorities, to support significant regional development and planning processes.
The Minister for the Environment will determine whether to declare a proposal as ‘strategic’, taking into account criteria set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017. A formal request must be made to the Minister to have an application declared strategic. Information included in the request should be guided by Request to declare biodiversity certification application as strategic – addressing the criteria (DOC 31KB).
Loans and other financial assistance may also be available from the Biodiversity Conservation Trust for planning authorities undertaking biodiversity certification.
How do I apply for biodiversity certification?
To apply for biodiversity certification applicants must complete the biodiversity certification application form (DOC 198KB).
The application must be accompanied by a Biodiversity Certification Assessment Report, among other things. This report must be prepared by an accredited assessor.
How are biodiversity impacts assessed under biodiversity certification?
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 their biodiversity impacts by retiring biodiversity credits, as is required of individual developments under the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. Offset obligations may also be met by making a payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.
For strategic biodiversity certification, the following additional conservation measures may also be used to meet an offset obligation:
- reservation of land under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
- adoption of development controls (or State infrastructure contributions) under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 that conserve or enhance the natural environment
- any other measure that the Minister for the Environment determines to be a conservation measure.
The availability of these additional measures ensures the strategic biodiversity certification process can respond to cumulative impacts and support enhanced conservation outcomes at a landscape or regional scale.
How does biodiversity certification work?
The process for biodiversity certification under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 is summarised below.
If you are a landholder or planning authority considering biodiversity certification under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, you are encouraged to contact us early in the planning process. Contact us at Biodiversity Offsets Scheme Support or on 1800 931 717.