Given rapid growth and development of the region in recent decades, biodiversity conservation has been a major program area for member councils and the Hunter JO Environment team. We have actively worked with researchers, academic institutions, government agencies, Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) and a wide range of stakeholder organisations to:

  • Survey and map biodiversity values and threatening processes
  • Undertake conservation assessments
  • Identify regional priorities for conservation
  • Provide input to planning and management strategies
  • Deliver capacity building initiatives to Councils around the use and application of technical data and mapping, management strategies, legislative compliance, market based instruments, and new research
  • Deliver strategic on ground restoration and rehabilitation works particularly focussing on Threatened Species, Endangered Ecological Communities and areas of high biodiversity conservation value
  • Deliver a comprehensive regional Roadside Environment Program


Biodiversity Conservation Reforms Support

The NSW Biodiversity Conservation reforms commenced on 25 August 2017 which introduced a new approach to land management and biodiversity conservation in NSW. These changes introduced a Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS) for people who wish to clear native vegetation on their land.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act), the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) and State Environmental Planning Policy – Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas (Vegetation SEPP) were introduced via as a staged process with a number of transitional arrangements.

Applicable Transitional Arrangements

Local Development and the BC Act

Transitional arrangements have now ceased for local developments under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) within all Councils in the Hunter Region.

For any new local developments (including modifications) lodged from the 25 November 2018, consideration of the Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS) triggers and biodiversity assessment requirements under the BC Act will be required in all 11 Local Government Areas (LGAs) within the Hunter Region.


There is one remaining transitional arrangement active within the Hunter Region under the Vegetation SEPP.  The special transitional provisions under Cl27 of the Vegetation SEPP were extended for 1 year until 25 August 2019.

These transitional provisions allow for clearing for routine agricultural management activities (RAMAs) as defined under the former Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NV Act) in R5, E2, E3 and E4 zones where the predominant use of the land is for agriculture.

The extension of these arrangements only applies in six Councils within the Hunter Region that had not adopted Clause 5.9(9) of the Standard Instrument (LEP). This includes:

  • Maitland City Council
  • Mid Coast Council
    Note: applies only within the former LGA boundaries of Greater Taree and Gloucester. Does NOT apply to the former LGA boundary of Great Lakes.
  • Muswellbrook Shire Council
  • Port Stephens Council
  • Singleton Council
  • Upper Hunter Shire Council

OEH Local Government Capacity Building Program

Local government is a key partner in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species in NSW. As part of Office of Environment and Heritage’s (OEH) Local Government Capacity Building Program a Local Government Regional Support Officer was employed in Region from December 2017 to support and build the capacity of local councils in transitioning and implementing the NSW Government Biodiversity Conservation Reforms. This position is one of eight in the State and is located within the Hunter Joint Organisation (HJO) Environment Division.

Local Government Hunter Regional Support Officer – Biodiversity Conservation Reforms

The HJO Environment Division have been working with Councils to  deliver a work program targeted to identified specific needs to assist each Council transition and understand their new legislative requirements and obligations under the new Biodiversity reforms.

The Environment Division support role continue to actively:

  • provide a conduit between Councils and key state agencies – OEH, Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and Local Land Services (LLS)
  • Respond to local assistance requests; and
  • Facilitate training and capacity building opportunities.

Resources and access to information relating to implementation of the biodiversity conservation reforms in the Local Government context is located on our Biodiversity Conservation Reforms Implementation page.

Regional Support for Hunter Region Councils

If you have any questions relating to the Biodiversity Reforms, please contact our office.

Contact details are:


Phone: 4978 4020

The Biodiversity Investment Prospectus project

The Hunter JO Environment team completed an Australian Government funded initiative (the Biodiversity Investment Prospectus project) in 2015 to stimulate both private and public investment in multi-scale conservation and connectivity throughout the Hunter, Central and Lower North Coast region. The project built upon the extensive expertise and repository of local and regional data, mapping and analyses generated by the Hunter JO Environment program over many years.

In particular the project:

  • Collated and rationalised the best available research, datasets and mapping products for biodiversity and a range of natural assets (such as wetlands, riparian zones, groundwater dependant ecosystems, reserve systems, world heritage areas, and roadside vegetation networks)
  • Engaged with technical experts and project stakeholders to identify conservation priorities
  • Produced new, high quality connectivity and conservation priority mapping
  • Updated climate modelling providing projections to 2030 and 2050
  • Delivered a series of professional capacity building seminars for member councils and other key stakeholder organisations
  • Evaluated the suite of legislative, planning and market-based instruments currently available to identify those with the most potential to stimulate and drive biodiversity conservation in the hunter, Central and Lower North Coast region
  • Produced mapping and reporting to inform regional planning and investment strategies and to assist member councils manage conservation priorities
  • Produced Private Landowner and Council Guides to biodiversity investment returns

The spatial data and associated documentation can be accessed below:

Spatial Dataset

Technical Report or Data Summary Sheet

Data Access
Use and Application of Data (Report Only)

Technical report providing guidance on the use and application of the connectivity modelling and species distribution models.

Technical Report DATA DOWNLOAD
Biophysical Agricultural Lands

Mapping of biophysical attributes to land that could support a variety of agricultural activities in the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region.

Data Summary Sheet
Climate Projection Models

Modelling of climatic variables (minimum temperature, maximum temperature and precipitation) across the region for timeframes 2040, 2060, 2080.

Technical Report
Landscape Connectivity Modelling

Modelling of landscape fragmentation and connectivity for flora & fauna species across the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region.

Technical Report
Red Flag Areas

Mapping of possible red flags as identified in the NSW Biodiversity Certification Assessment Methodology (2011) in the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region.

Data Summary Sheet
Land Tenure

Land tenure across the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region.

Data Summary Sheet
Ecologically Endangered Communities (EEC) Points

Know EEC sites (for 21 EECs), as of 2013, occurring in the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region.

Data Summary Sheet
Ecologically Endangered Communities (EEC) Models

EEC Distribution models for 21 EECs occurring in the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region.

Data Summary Sheet

Technical Report

Threatened Species Distribution Models

Species Distribution Models for 151 Threatened species occurring in the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region. This is a subset of the Species Distribution Models (below).

Data Summary Sheet

Technical Report

Species Distribution Models

Species Distribution models for over 600 species occurring in the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast Region.

Technical Report This dataset is too large for download, but can be posted Contact – 4978 4020

CD – $50