What is an expert?
An expert is a person who, in the opinion of the Secretary of the Department (or anyone authorised by the Secretary) has specialised knowledge based on training, study or experience, to provide an expert opinion regarding the threatened species to which an expert report relates. Expert Reports relate to 'species credit' species within the meaning of the Biodiversity Offset Scheme.
The specific purpose of an 'expert report' within the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) is to allow for a person with extensive knowledge about an individual threatened species to identify its habitat without survey and predict its density and distribution in that habitat.
Information about experts and expert reports
Experts and the use of expert reports are described within Box 3 (in section 5) of the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) (2020).
An expert is engaged by an accredited assessor to prepare an expert report as part of a Biodiversity Assessment Report (BAR) (where relevant). An expert does not need to be an accredited assessor themselves or have attended BAM training.
It is the responsibility of the BAM accredited assessor to ensure that any expert report being submitted as part of a BAR has been prepared by a person approved by the Secretary (or their delegate) as an expert.
An expert report relates only to species credit species, and not ecosystem-credit species or plant community types (PCTs). You can use NSW Bionet to determine the credit type for a threatened species.
How is expert status demonstrated?
To demonstrate expert status, applicants must prepare a submission describing their credentials for review by the Secretary of the Department (or delegate).
For BARs that are being prepared in accordance with the BAM (2020) the submission must address all of the following criteria in describing their credentials:
- the expert's academic qualifications such as relevant degrees, postgraduate qualifications
- their history of experience in the ecological research, habitat assessment and survey method, for the relevant species
- a resumé detailing projects pertaining to the survey of the relevant species (including the locations and dates of the work), their employers' names and periods of employment (where relevant) over the previous 10 years
- peer-reviewed publications on the species or other evidence that the person is a well-known authority on the species to which the survey relates (the assessor cannot act as a referee for the proposed expert for this purpose).
During the transition period, any BAR which is being prepared in accordance with the BAM (2017) will need to contact the Department at BAM_accreditation@environment.nsw.gov.au to request an application form which details the expert criteria from the previous version of the BAM.
How do I apply to be listed as an expert?
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will only consider applications for approval to become an expert for projects that require an expert report to be prepared. The Department recommends that accredited assessors get prior approval for any experts before undertaking relevant surveys or submitting reports.
Expert applicants or accredited assessors should prepare a submission addressing criteria a to d (above) for each individual species and attach to the application form. The submission and its application form should be complied into one PDF file and sent to email@example.com.
The application form must be signed by both the expert applicant and the BAM assessor managing the relevant BAM project case. The Department may contact the accredited assessor to confirm that there is a current BAM case in preparation.
List of approved experts
The Secretary of the Department (or anyone authorised by the Secretary) may publish a list of experts. The published list is not intended to be comprehensive. There may be conditions and limits on the expert listing (e.g. restrictions to certain regions of New South Wales).
The Secretary (or anyone authorised by the Secretary) may remove people from the list if, in their opinion, they no longer have the specialist knowledge or behave unprofessionally. Before removing people from the list, the expert will be notified and given adequate opportunity to respond.
A person not on the published list of experts may be contracted to prepare an expert report. However, the proposed expert must be approved by the Secretary of the Department (or anyone authorised by the Secretary) before any BAR is submitted that relies on the outcomes of the expert report.
You can download the updated list of approved biodiversity experts (XLSX 30KB).
Where an expert has a region next to their entry in this table, they are only approved for projects that are in the Local Government Areas within that region. Refer to Regional operations – regions and Local Government Areas (PDF 103KB) for more information.
Note: Varying survey time for species credit species
Surveys for species credit species need to be conducted at the optimum time for detection. Survey months for species are automatically populated in the Biodiversity Assessment Method Calculator (BAM-C) via the Threatened Biodiversity Data Collection (TBDC). These months were selected assuming 'average' conditions, and that the survey is undertaken using an appropriate method, time of day and conditions (based on relevant survey guidelines).
You can adjust survey timing if, for example, natural disturbances or climatic events are likely to alter the months when the species is most likely to be found. Sometimes additional information on survey times is provided in the 'General Notes' field of the TBDC, for example, 'shoulder' months, differences in survey season during particular environmental conditions or across the species distribution. Also available for flora-specific survey is the Flora Species with Specific Survey Requirements, which you can find on the BAM-C page. If you vary your survey time from those in the BAM-C make sure you document and justify this in the Biodiversity Assessment Report. For further information see p38 of the Biodiversity Assessment Method Operational Manual – Stage 1.