NSW Department of Planning and Environment

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.

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Page last updated: 06/04/2020