Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2015 (WA) becomes law

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (WA) (Biodiversity Act) has come partially into effect with sections 1 and 21 being effective as of 21 September 2016.  The remainder of the Biodiversity Act will come into force on the date of proclamation, which is yet to occur.

The Biodiversity Act was introduced to the Parliament of Western Australia (Parliament) in bill form with the aim of replacing the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (WA) (WC Act) and providing a new framework that has a multi-faceted approach to protecting biodiversity, by including not  only penalty provisions, but also provisions promoting biodiversity conservation. The WC Act only addressed that certain things need to be protected, and created a scheme of licences, offences and powers for park rangers etc. 

The Biodiversity Act has a similar focus on ecologically sustainable development as the Commonwealth EPBC Act and is more comprehensive than what was previously in effect in WA.  The Biodiversity Act has significantly more definitions and detailed criteria for assessment than the WC Act, and listing procedure provisions for ‘threatened’ species and ecological communities.  The revised penalty provisions for ecological harm have also been increased.  The Biodiversity Act also has new provisions for sandalwood harvesting in WA[1] and increased regulation on pest control.

The sections of the Biodiversity Act which have already come into operation are the criteria for categorising endangered species and the procedural naming of the statute. When the remainder of the statute comes into force, it will be prudent to consider whether a development takes into account the listings made by the Minister, in a similar process to what is required at a Commonwealth level, to seek approval for disturbing ie a threatened species.

If you have any questions about the new Biodiversity Act please contact Craig Wallace.

[1] The Biodiversity Act in addition to repealing the WC Act, also repeals the Sandalwood Act 1929 (WA).

Disclaimer – the information contained in this publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice in relation to any particular matter you may have before relying or acting on this information. The Lavan team are here to assist.