Regulations to protect the biodiversity of WA

  • The new regulations are expected to commence on January 1, 2019

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has today announced publication in the Government Gazette of the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2018.

The regulations will allow for the full proclamation of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, which received Royal Assent on September 21, 2016 and was partially proclaimed on December 3, 2016.

The new Act and regulations will provide comprehensive and significant protection for the State’s biodiversity, and will replace the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and the Sandalwood Act 1929 and associated regulations.

The Wildlife Conservation Act was created at a time when the concept of biodiversity, as we now know it, did not exist. It was based on legislation going back more than 100 years, when the focus was on protecting the King’s game from poaching.

The Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2018 provide the licensing arrangements for activities involving the State’s fauna and flora.

The Act will deliver:

  • Improved protection for threatened species, including conservation of their habitats;
  • Measures to conserve threatened ecological communities and critical habitats;
  • Greatly increased deterrent penalties for people and corporations impacting on threatened species and communities (up to $500,000 for a person and $2.5 million for a corporation); and
  • Greatly increased deterrent penalties for unlawful sandalwood trading (increasing from $200 under the Sandalwood Act to $200,000 for individuals and $1 million for corporations).

A new online wildlife licensing system will support a modern approach to regulating activities involving native animals and plants, allowing for applications, payments, amendments and licence returns to be made.

Many of the current licensing arrangements will not change substantially under the new regulations.

New arrangements will be put in place where current provisions are lacking or inadequate, such as the harvest of sandalwood, to ensure that only lawfully obtained sandalwood is traded.

As noted by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

“This is a significant step towards a new era of biodiversity conservation legislation in Western Australia.

“The new Act will provide for listing of threatened species, specially protected species, threatened ecological communities, key threatening processes and critical habitat, as well as for recovery plans and other modern features of biodiversity legislation.

“Thank you to the peak bodies, small business and industry stakeholder groups we have consulted with over recent months to develop these regulations.”

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