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Commonwealth regulation

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (EPBC Act) is the Australian 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’.

The 9 such matters in the EPBC Act are:

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

A proponent needs to seek approval to undertake an activity that could have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.

For more information, visit the Australian Government's Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.