Native species are listed as threatened under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 when they have been assessed as facing:

  • a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future (in the category of vulnerable)
  • a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future (in the category of endangered), or
  • an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future (in the category of critically endangered).

Threatened ecological communities (TECs) may be listed as:

  • vulnerable
  • endangered, or
  • critically endangered

when they face a high, very high or extremely high risk of collapse over the same timeframes, respectively.

Threatened species and ecological communities authorisations

Due to the elevated risks of causing species extinction or ecological collapse, actions that take or disturb listed threatened species or cause modification of the occurrence of TECs require authorisation.

Under section 40 (1), the Minister or the Minister’s delegate may by instrument, authorise a person (including a public authority) to take or disturb a threatened species, and under section 45 (1), the Minister may, by instrument, authorise a person (including a public authority) to modify an occurrence of a TEC.

The Minister may impose conditions on an authorisation to take or disturb a threatened species [section 41 (2)], or to modify the occurrence of a TEC [section 46 (2)], so as to mitigate or offset the impact that an authorised activity is likely to have on the total known population of a threatened species in the State or the total known occurrences of a TEC in the State, and on relevant habitat.

Authorisations may be sought independently or in association with other regulatory processes. These include:

  • wildlife licence applications under the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2018
  • planning schemes and scheme amendments
  • development proposals and clearing permit applications under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 
  • land use planning under the Planning and Development Act 2005 and related State Planning Policies
  • referrals of Matters of National Environmental Significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The department routinely provides advice to decision-makers during assessment of proposed activities through these processes.

Evaluating activities that impact threatened species and TECs, including decisions to authorise their take, disturbance and modification are rigorously assessed in a consistent, transparent and defendable way. This is outlined in a risk assessment document 'Assessing risks to the conservation of biodiversity associated with threatened species and threatened ecological communities'.