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NSW biodiversity reforms

What are the reforms?

Just like ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, the NSW Biodiversity Reforms are based on the principle of avoiding, minimizing and - as a last resort - offsetting biodiversity loss through a standardised approach to biodiversity assessment. The reforms cover:

  • rural and urban vegetation clearing
  • vegetation clearing associated with the development
  • prioritised investment in biodiversity conservation on private land
  • targeted funding programs for biodiversity
  • a new approach to licencing and codes of practice for wildlife management.

The new legislative and policy changes have created a new biodiversity assessment and approval pathway. An overview of the reforms can be found on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website.

To find out what vegetation clearing assessment and approvals apply to you, go to the Office of Local Government’s Biodiversity assessment and approvals navigator. Alternatively, view the Biodiversity Assessment and approval pathways for non-IDA Councils flowchart (PDF 115KB)

Will the reforms impact me?

The NSW Biodiversity Reforms may impact you if you are planning to:

  • Lodge a Development Application
  • Rezone land
  • Remove or prune a tree

Are you looking to develop or subdivide land?

If you’re planning to lodge a Development Application, there are new requirements for the assessment of biodiversity impacts for developments in sensitive environmental areas, or where a significant amount of vegetation is proposed to be cleared.

The Biodiversity Offset Scheme outlines the thresholds where the new standardised assessment applies.

If you are below these thresholds, a Flora and Fauna Survey to inform the Assessment of Significance in accordance with Part B2.1 of the Port Stephens Development Control Plan (DCP) may still be required.

Where the Biodiversity Offset Scheme applies there are 5 Steps you will need to follow.

Are you looking to rezone land?

As part of the rezoning process, land can be biocertified to address the potential impacts on biodiversity during the early stages of land use planning.

The biocertification process allows development to be designed in a way that avoids and minimises impacts on biodiversity, and secure offsets for the remaining biodiversity impacts of the development.

Following certification, 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.

Find out more about how Biocertification works in NSW.

Are you looking to remove or prune a tree?

For details on when approval is required and how to apply to remove or prune a tree in Port Stephens.

Contact details

For further information contact Council's Natural Resources team on (02) 4988 0255.