Amendments to the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 came into effect on 1 June 2020 following the passing of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Act 2019 (the Amendment Act) through the Victorian Parliament in 2019.
The Amendment Act was introduced to update the approach to conservation and regulation outlined in the original Act, and improve its relevance for protecting Victoria’s biodiversity.
The key changes noted in the Amendment Act are:
A new approach to assessing and listing threatened species will be implemented through the application of the Common Assessment Method (CAM). The CAM method is being applied across Australian jurisdictions to reduce duplication in species assessment. The new assessment approach may lead to new listings of species under the Amendment Act. For each species listed, Conservation Advice will be provided in a brief summary, with select species also having a detailed management plan prepared.
The current list of Protected flora will be reviewed and updated, with a new category introduced of ‘Restricted Use’. The Restricted Use category applies to species which are not currently threatened, but may be at risk of commercial or personal use if not managed accordingly.
Critical Habitat will occur in areas where a Critical Habitat Determination has been made by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Secretary, which must consider the ecological importance of the area. Critical Habitat will be protected through a Habitat Conservation Order, which are made by the Minister to protect the area of habitat. Any proposed works within areas of Critical Habitat must obtain a permit from the Minister.
The definition of Public Authority has been refined to specify the following organisations:
Land owned by the above organisations is now considered public land, with public land requiring a strong consideration under the Amendment Act in comparison to private land. This will broadly apply to land within road and rail corridors throughout Victoria.
Unchanged items between the two versions of the Act include no changes to listed threatened communities and no change to threatening processes.
Actions which require a permit under the Amendment Act remain largely consistent with the original Act. A permit will be required for impacts to protected or listed species and/or communities and areas of critical habitat on public land. One change is in relation to Critical Habitat, where a permit is also required for impacts to critical habitat on private land.
There remains no threshold of impact to trigger a permit in relation to the number of species or size of the ecological community being impacted.
The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Act 2019 will come into effect on 1 June 2020.
Please contact our natural heritage team on 1300 839 325 if you have any questions or to discuss the implications for your project.