The New State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019

As of March 2020, the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 was enacted to address the declining status of Koalas in regards to development and to…. ” Encourage the conservation and management of areas of natural vegetation that provide habitat for koalas to support a permanent free-living population over their present range and reverse the current trend of koala population decline.”

Want a simple way to understand the Koala SEPP? Get the infographic by clicking below.

We’ve made a simple to understand flow chart to help you understand the new guidelines.

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HOW HAS THE KOALA SEPP CHANGED (2019)

1. UPDATED DEFINITION OF “CORE KOALA HABITAT"

Core Koala Habitat is now defined by where koalas are present, or where an area of land has been assessed as highly suitable habitat; and where koalas have been recorded as present in the previous 18 years.

2. NEW SEPP "TRIGGER” MAPS

The Koala Development Application map identifies “highly suitable habitat” that has been defined in the NSW Government Koala Habitat Information base.

The Site Investigation Area for Koala Plan of Management map identifies areas where Local Government should focus their studies to identify further habitat for Koala Plans of Management.

For proponents  of development applications, Travers bushfire & ecology  assesses whether your site is automatically triggered, whether there is opportunity to redefine with more accurate mapping, documentation you will need to progress an application and advise of the likely steps you will have to go through.

For councils and land owners, Travers bushfire & ecology can prepare an LGA wide or parcel specific KPoM’s to guide development or the use of land on the basis of up-to-date and accurate koala habitat mapping.

3. EXPANDED LIST OF KOALA FEED TREE SPECIES

“Highly suitable habitat” identified on the basis of presence of species known to be used by koalas, has been  expanded from 10 koala feed trees to 123  tree species.

These species have been categorised into 9 distinct Koala Management Areas as follows, according to the trees koalas prefer to use in various areas:

4. KOALA HABITAT PROTECTION GUIDELINES

A draft Koala Habitat Protection Guidelines was enacted on the 1st March 2020.

These guidelines outline the application of the SEPP, the process and content of Koala Plans of Management, and the application on land with no approved Koala Plan of Management.

Part 3 of the Guidelines must be considered under certain criteria and are split into 2 tiers:

PART 3 OF THE NEW KOALA HABITAT GUIDELINES

Tier 1 – Low or no direct impact development. 

The Tier 1 process is for development which can be demonstrated to have low or no direct impact on koalas or koala habitat as follows:

  1. Indirect impacts that will not result in clearing of native vegetation within koala habitat;
  2. The development is below the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme threshold under the BC Act;
  3. There is no native vegetation removal;
  4. The development footprint will not impede movement between koala habitat; and
  5. Adequate mitigation measures such as those listed in Table 1 below are implemented as necessary.

Tier 2 – Development applications impacting koalas and/or habitat.

A Koala Assessment Report addressing the criteria must accompany any development application to which Tier 2 applies.

Don’t have time? Get the infographic by clicking below.

We’ve made a simple to understand flow chart to help you understand the new guidelines.

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DOES THE SEPP APPLY TO YOUR DA?

1. Does your application meet all of the followinG?

a.  The application was/is to be submitted after the 1st March 2020;

b.  The site is located in an LGA listed in the schedule 1 of the SEPP;

c.  Your land including adjacent land in the same ownership is over 1 hectare;

d.  Your land does not have a Koala Plan of Management applying to it; and

e.  Is wholly or partially captured by the Koala Development Application map.

2. Will removal of native vegetation impact Koala Habitat?

For developments that can demonstrate low or no direct impact on Koalas and their habitat, the application can proceed under Tier 1 of the Koala Habitat Protection Guidelines.

If there is full or partial removal of native vegetation that is highly suitable Koala habitat, the DA potentially impacts ‘Core Koala habitat’ and Tier 2 of the Koala Habitat Protection Guidelines will need to be addressed.

3. Can you dispute the koala development application area on your land?

Yes you can. If you believe the Koala Development Application Map has been inaccurately applied to your land, then you will need Travers bushfire & ecology  to undertake a Koala Survey and Habitat Assessment in accordance with Appendix C of the guidelines.

Travers bushfire & ecology can prepare an accurate “Highly suitable habitat” plan to argue the case as to whether the Koala Development Application Map applies to all or part or none of your land.

4. Do you accept the koala development application area on your land?

Travers bushfire & ecology can advise you whether disputing the Koala Development Application Mapping is worth while. In site specific cases there will be no point in disputing the mapping and you should  proceed under Tier 2 of the Guidelines. We don’t want you to waste time or your money arguing a case that cannot be supported by the site evidence.

KOALA PLAN OF MANAGEMENT (KPoM’s) ENACTED AS OF 1 MARCH 2020

CORE KOALA HABITAT SURVEYS

Travers bushfire & ecology are  suitably qualified and experienced experts as defined by the guidelines, to conduct  field-based survey and habitat assessment to demonstrate presence or absence of highly suitable or Core Koala Habitat.

During survey, Travers bushfire & ecology will confirm:

a) The presence of koalas by actual observation, or scats surrounding koala use trees.

b) Whether the site contains:

(i) Highly Suitable Habitat – presence of >15% of regionally relevant koala use trees listed in Schedule 2 of the guidelines.

(ii) Koalas recorded within the last 18 years and within 2.5km of the site (east of the Great Divide) or 5km (remaining western LGA’s). This indicates the presence of Core Koala Habitat.

If Core Koala Habitat is confirmed, then the application will proceed under Tier 2 of the Koala Habitat Protection Guidelines which requires the preparation of a Koala  Assessment Report.

KOALA ASSESSMENT REPORTS

Koala Assessment Reports are required to address 13 criteria as a standard approach across NSW.

The following categories of information are required:

  • Survey and habitat results;
  • Koala habitat value – addressing criteria 1 and 2;
  • Measures taken to avoid impacts to koalas – addressing criteria 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8;
  • Analysis of potential impacts – addressing criteria 9;
  • Plan to manage and protect koalas and their habitat – addressing criteria 10, 11, 12 and 13.

The new changes can be daunting. Travers bushfire & ecology can make this easy and answer any questions you may have concerning the new guidelines.

Travers bushfire & ecology can help by:

  • Undertaking preliminary SEPP assessment to determine whether a Tier 1 or Tier 2 assessment applies.
  • Advising on the accuracy of koala habitat mapping and to dispute or clarify its applicability to land.
  • Securing factual koala activity data & habitat mapping.
  • Preparing detailed Koala Assessment Reports.
  • Advising measures to avoid and minimise and/or mitigate impacts on koalas.
  • Preparing LGA wide or site specific KPoM’s.
  • Reviewing and assessing existing KPoM’s that affect your land. 
  • Provide advice and reporting to meet the submission requirements.

Travers bushfires & ecology have over 30 years experience and are experts in our industry. We can guide you to make the right decisions for your land with the best possible outcome!

We don’t just work for you, we work with you.

Do you want to share with your team members? Get the infographic by clicking below.

We’ve made a simple to understand flow chart to help you understand the new guidelines.

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