NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Commonwealth regulation in Australia

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (EPBC Act) is the Commonwealth Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places – defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance.

There nine matters of national environmental significance provided for under the EPBC Act.

They are:

  • world heritage properties
  • national heritage places
  • wetlands of international importance (often called 'Ramsar' wetlands after the international treaty under which such wetlands are listed)
  • nationally threatened species and ecological communities
  • migratory species
  • Commonwealth marine areas
  • the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • nuclear actions (including uranium mining)
  • a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.

A proponent will need to seek approval to undertake an action that has the potential to significantly impact a matter of national environmental significance.

More information

For further information, you can:

Page last updated: 23/12/2022