On 1 January 2019, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) replaced the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. This legislation included the requirement to obtain authorisation under the BC Act to undertake certain bushfire mitigation activities that would take or disturb threatened species (flora and fauna, under s.40) and to modify a threatened ecological community (TEC, under s.45). Before the commencement of the BC Act, proponents were only required to obtain a permit to take in relation to the taking of threatened flora.

On 15 October 2021, the Biodiversity Conservation (Exemptions) Amendment Order 2021 (Amendment Order) was published in the Government Gazette. The Amendment Order exempts landowners and occupiers who are undertaking specified bushfire mitigation activities on land that is not managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) from the requirement for an authorisation to take a threatened species or modify a threatened ecological community under sections 40 and 45 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) under certain conditions.

The Biodiversity Conservation (Exemptions) Order 2018 (Exemptions Order) has been amended by the Biodiversity Conservation (Exemptions) Amendment Order 2021 (Amendment Order) to insert an additional clause (clause 7) that exempts a person from the following offences when the person is undertaking specified bushfire mitigation or bushfire suppression activities:

  • section 48(1) - modification of an occurrence of a TEC;
  • section 149(1) - taking of fauna;
  • section 150(1) - taking of threatened fauna or fauna (other than managed fauna);
  • section 153(1) - disturbance of fauna; and
  • section 173(1) or (2) - taking of threatened flora.

The Amendment Order will enable landowners and occupiers to undertake planned burning over the same area at intervals greater than six years without an authorisation under the BC Act. If landowners and occupiers want to undertake planned burning more frequently over the same area, then they must apply for an authorisation from DBCA.

The intent of the Amendment Order is to reduce the administrative burden on landowners and occupiers, when undertaking bushfire mitigation activities for community protection while still making provisions for the State’s important biodiversity values. A series of fire management guidelines for key threatened species and ecological communities have been developed to assist landholders who are seeking further information when undertaking planned burning on their properties.

For more information on threatened species management please contact DBCA’s Species and Communities Program speciesandcommunities@dbca.wa.gov.au.