Biodiversity and the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM)
Abel Ecology can help you to project manage the entire development process, resulting in a seamless project where the client can be confident that the best possible outcome has been achieved.
We provide personalised, innovative and high-quality advice to state and local government, as well as private clients including large businesses and individuals.
Biodiversity assessments and reports are typically required as part of a development application and often by NSW legislation. We find solutions and solve complex problems by drawing on our experience with Commonwealth, State and Local Government policy and legislation.
Abel Ecology can undertake both simple and complex ecological assessments, including:
Prescribed Ecological Actions Report (PEAR)
Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR)
Biodiversity Certification Assessment Report (BCAR)
Biodiversity Stewardship Site Assessment Report
Landscape Management Plan
Opportunities and Constraints Report
Due Diligence Reports
Expert Witness Services in the NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC)
Our consultants are accredited for the NSW Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) and Biobanking.
The NSW Biodiversity Assessment Process
Green tree frog Litoria caerulea preparing for mating, the beginning of the reproductive process for this species.
We wisely start at the very beginning, “a very good place to start”. A robust and careful beginning for biodiversity assessment can save a lot of time and cost later on. The Opportunities and Constraints assessment of a project can now include Step 1 of the biodiversity assessment process under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Here we explain how the Abel Ecology process works.
Step 1: Prescribed Ecological Actions Report (PEAR)
A Prescribed Ecology Actions Report (PEAR) meets the requirements of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to enable a Council or other determining authority to assess a proposed development or activity for consent under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) or for an approval under Part 5 of that Act. A PEAR is sometimes referred to as a Biodiversity Assessment Report (BAR), which can easily be confused with the subsequent Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR).
The authority must consider the following three Biodiversity Offset Scheme Development Thresholds:
Threshold Trigger 1: Exceeding the clearing threshold on an area of native vegetation.
Threshold Trigger 2: Development or a prescribed activity is carried out on land included in the Biodiversity Values Land Map
Threshold Trigger 3: A “significant effect” on threatened species or ecological communities.
A biodiversity survey of the proposed development site is to be undertaken. The Prescribed Ecology Actions Report then investigates whether the impacts of a proposal will trigger any of the three thresholds to entry into the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme, thereby requiring a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR).
The biodiversity assessment in a PEAR addresses impacts on threatened species, communities and their habitats, as required by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BCA 2016). ‘Threatened’ refers to those species and communities listed in Schedules 1 & 2 of the BCA 2016.
If any of the three thresholds are triggered, then a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) must be prepared by an accredited assessor for the Authority to issue a consent or an approval and a calculation of offsetting required.
Threshold One: Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 Development area assessment thresholds
Clearing of native vegetation is declared by clause 7.2(1) of the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 to exceed the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold if the area proposed to be cleared is the area set out in Column 2 of the Table to that clause (Table 1 below) opposite the minimum lot size applicable to the land to be cleared in Column 1 of that Table.
Clearing of native vegetation will trigger entry into the offsets scheme if clearing is greater than the assessment threshold. To determine the correct threshold from Table 2 below, the appropriate minimum lot size of land must be selected. The minimum lot size of land can be found on the NSW planning portal https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/find-a-property/property/.
Table 1: Areas section 7.2(4) Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017.
When the proposed development/activity includes clearing that exceeds the threshold. A Biodiversity Development Assessment Report must be prepared for the proposal by an Accredited Assessor for the proposal to proceed.
Threshold Two: Clearing or prescribed activities as listed in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 on land included on the Biodiversity Values Map
Where no part of the site is included on the Biodiversity Values Map, threshold two is not breached.
Where part of the site contains land included on the Biodiversity Values Map. The second threshold can be triggered by clearing on the Biodiversity Values Map.
If one of more of the following prescribed activities are included directly or indirectly on land included on the Biodiversity Values Map as part of the proposal/proposed activity the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will apply and a BDAR is to be prepared.
The following extracts are from the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017:
Part 7 Biodiversity assessment and approvals under Planning Act
7.1 Biodiversity offsets scheme threshold (section 7.4)
(1) Proposed development exceeds the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold for the purposes of Part 7 of the Act if it is or involves:
(a) the clearing of native vegetation of an area declared by clause 7.2 as exceeding the threshold, or
(b) the clearing of native vegetation, or other action prescribed by clause 6.1, on land included on the Biodiversity Values Map published under clause 7.3.
Part 6 Biodiversity offsets scheme
Division 6.1 General
6.1 Additional biodiversity impacts to which scheme applies (sections 6.3 and 6.6 (2) BCR)
(1) The impacts on biodiversity values of the following actions are prescribed (subject to subclause (2)) as biodiversity impacts to be assessed under the biodiversity offsets scheme:
(a) the impacts of development on the following habitat of threatened species or ecological communities:
(i) karst, caves, crevices, cliffs and other geological features of significance,
(iii) human made structures,
(iv) non-native vegetation,
(b) the impacts of development on the connectivity of different areas of habitat of threatened species that facilitates the movement of those species across their range,
(c) the impacts of development on movement of threatened species that maintains their lifecycle,
(d) the impacts of development on water quality, water bodies and hydrological processes that sustain threatened species and threatened ecological communities (including from subsidence or upsidence resulting from underground mining or other development),
(e) the impacts of wind turbine strikes on protected animals,
(f) the impacts of vehicle strikes on threatened species of animals or on animals that are part of a threatened ecological community.
(2) The additional biodiversity impacts prescribed by this clause (above):
(a) are prescribed for the purposes of assessment and biodiversity assessment reports under the Act, but are not additional biodiversity impacts for the purposes of calculating the number and class of biodiversity credits that are required under a biodiversity assessment report to be retired to offset the residual impact on biodiversity values of proposed development, proposed clearing of native vegetation or proposed biodiversity certification of land, and
(b) may be taken into account in the determination of the biodiversity credits required to be retired (or other conservation measures required to be taken) under a planning approval or vegetation clearing approval or under a biodiversity certification of land.
Where any of the prescribed biodiversity impacts described above (a, b, c, d, e, or f) are included in the proposal/proposed activity a BDAR is required.
Where the threshold two trigger for entry into the Biodiversity offsets scheme is triggered by the proposal a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report must be prepared for the proposal by an Accredited Assessor for the proposal to proceed.
Threshold 3: Impact on biodiversity
In order to address this criterion the usual ecological survey and report will enable five part tests to be prepared. The relevant OEH Guideline will be used to design an appropriate biodiversity survey.
Five-part test process
Under Section 7.3 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act several factors need to be considered in deciding whether there is likely to be a significant effect on threatened species, populations or ecological communities, or their habitats. If there is likely to be a significant effect on threatened species, etc., the proposal must be accompanied by a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR).
While the overall proposal incorporates mitigating considerations and offsets, these are not taken into account in determining the outcome of the five-part tests.
Section 7.2 Development or activity "likely to significantly affect threatened species"
(1) For the purposes of this Part, development or an activity is "likely to significantly affect threatened species" if:
(a) it is likely to significantly affect threatened species or ecological communities, or their habitats, according to the test in section 7.3, or
(b) the development exceeds the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold if the biodiversity offsets scheme applies to the impacts of the development on biodiversity values, or
(c) it is carried out in a declared area of outstanding biodiversity value.
(2) To avoid doubt, subsection (1) (b) does not apply to development that is an activity subject to environmental impact assessment under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Section 7.3 Five Part Test
The test for determining whether proposed development or activity is likely to significantly affect threatened species or ecological communities, or their habitats is in five parts:
1. in the case of a threatened species, whether the proposed development or activity is likely to have an adverse effect on the life cycle of the species such that a viable local population of the species is likely to be placed at risk of extinction.
2. in the case of an endangered ecological community or critically endangered ecological community, whether the proposed development or activity:
(a) is likely to have an adverse effect on the extent of the ecological community such that its local occurrence is likely to be placed at risk of extinction;
(b) is likely to substantially and adversely modify the composition of the ecological community such that its local occurrence is likely to be placed at risk of extinction.
3. in relation to the habitat of a threatened species or ecological community:
(a) the extent to which habitat is likely to be removed or modified as a result of the proposed development or activity;
(b) whether an area of habitat is likely to become fragmented or isolated from other areas of habitat as a result of the proposed development or activity;
(c) the importance of the habitat to be removed, modified, fragmented or isolated to the long-term survival of the species or ecological community in the locality.
4. whether the proposed development or activity is likely to have an adverse effect on any declared area of outstanding biodiversity value (either directly or indirectly).
5. whether the proposed development or activity is or is part of, a key threatening process or is likely to increase the impact of a key threatening process.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The PEAR will show that None / One / Two / Three of the three thresholds are triggered as follows:
Area of clearing.
Biodiversity Land Map – clearing or prescribed biodiversity impacts.
Five Part Tests.
Where no threshold is breached a consent or approval may be issued with conditions and no BDAR is required.
Where any threshold is triggered a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) must be prepared by an accredited assessor to enable the Authority to issue a consent or an approval. Note that for the BDAR the five part tests are not required to be included. If in a preliminary assessment under a PEAR it is obvious that thresholds one or two will be breached, then the client can be advised that the proposal is subject to a BDAR. The BAM will be applied instead of five part tests.
Step 2: Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR)
Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) using the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) to assess the impact and generate an offset requirement.
To speak to an accredited BAM assessor to discuss your project:
Call Dr Daniel McDonald or Dr Alison Hewitt on
02 4751 9487
Email your plans to
For more detail view the
updated EP&A Act 1979