Department of the Environment

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Publications archive - The Biodiversity Toolbox


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

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Local Government and biodiversity

Benefits of biodiversity conservation to Local Government

Australians, and more specifically local government, are just beginning to see the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services to our everyday lives. Some of the primary benefits of biodiversity conservation to councils across the nation includes:

Economic benefits to local government including increased land value resulting from improved landscape amenity, as well as contributing to the total landscape setting enjoyed by residents, and providing a valuable tourism and recreation resource for visitors.

Our natural environment maintains many essential functions that form the foundation of a healthy and sustainable environment. These are often called ecosystem services and include:

While this natural capital is not currently valued in economic terms, the CSIRO estimates that the total annual value of ecosystem services within Australia is $1327 billion. This alone indicates the reasons for the urgency associated with the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources in general. Local councils are in a prime position to take a leading role in maintaining these vital ecosystem services.

Opportunities for Local Government to conserve biodiversity

Bathurst copper butterfly . Photo Elsa Dexter.Of all tiers of government within Australia, councils have the greatest opportunity to interact directly with the community. This gives local government the opportunity to show leadership within the community, and to offer vital support and encouragement to local land and property owners to conserve native flora and fauna.

Key documents including the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biodiversity and the National Local Government Biodiversity Strategy recognise that local government has an important part to play in biodiversity conservation. Legislation such as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 and various State Acts also prescribe the roles and responsibilities of councils to conserve biodiversity in their local area, including the:

Proactive longer-term environmental planning and land-use management will have a beneficial flow-on effect to other aspects of the EPBC Act, such as assisting proponents making project referrals and compliance issues.

Local government can and should use their position to:

A proactive and committed council can influence great positive local change - examples of this are celebrated in the Case Studies section of the Toolbox. We hope that the Toolbox will provide the motivation and necessary resources to help your Council start that process of change.