A NSW Government website

Understanding biodiversity certification


Biodiversity certification assessment 

Biodiversity certification is a streamlined biodiversity assessment process for land areas proposed for development. It's available to local government, other planning authorities and landowners.  

Biodiversity certification can apply to a broad range of proposals in urban and rural areas. It is particularly suitable for when strategic land use planning at a landscape scale is proposed or underway.  

Biodiversity certification: 

  • encourages applicants to design the development footprint to avoid and minimise impacts on land with biodiversity values
  • achieves better biodiversity outcomes than site-by-site assessments
  • provides up-front certainty about development potential and conservation outcomes. 

How biodiversity certification works

The biodiversity certification process identifies areas suitable for development (land proposed to be certified) and includes measures to offset the impacts of development.  Certification allows development to proceed without individual site assessments for biodiversity.  

By addressing potential biodiversity impacts early in land use planning, planning authorities and landholders can minimise the impacts to land with biodiversity values and protect biodiversity from future development.  

Biodiversity certification proposals are assessed using the Biodiversity Assessment Method – the same method used for single sites under the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme – to ensure consistent biodiversity outcomes within the planning system. See the Biodiversity Assessment Method.

For more information, see Biodiversity certification process.  

Types of biodiversity certification 

Two types of biodiversity certification are available: 

  • Standard certification is available to landholders and planning authorities. Impacts must be offset by retiring biodiversity credits or by making a payment to the Biodiversity Conservation Fund, aligning with individual development requirements under the scheme. 
  • Strategic certification is available to planning authorities, which includes, but is not limited to, local government and the Minister for Planning. A proposal must be declared strategic by the Minister for the Environment. Applications may use additional conservation measures to offset the impacts on biodiversity on certified land. The additional conservation measures ensure the strategic biodiversity certification process can respond to cumulative impacts and support enhanced conservation outcomes at a landscape or regional scale. See Strategic biodiversity certification.

When deciding whether to declare an application strategic, the Minister will consider criteria set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, including:

  • the size of the area
  • any regional or district plan that applies to the area
  • advice for the Minister for Planning  
  • the economic, social or environmental outcomes that the certification could facilitate.