Flora and fauna surveys can be required for development consent applications for projects proposed in environmentally sensitive areas. Depending on the planning authority’s requirements, a development application may need to be accompanied by a flora and fauna assessment if habitat for or populations of flora or fauna are affected by the proposed project. Although a full flora and fauna assessment is not normally required for a planning permit for vegetation removal in Victoria, it may be required for projects being assessed under other state controls, such as the Environment Effects Act 1978.
For more information on Victoria’s specific native vegetation controls and the kinds of site assessment of flora and fauna required for these, see here
Some flora fauna and ecological communities are also protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). For more information on the requirements for approval under this Act see: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/approval.html. If Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) listed in this Act could be affected by a project it is possible that a Referral under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 may be required before development consent can be considered. This will usually require at least an initial flora and fauna assessment of a project site.
Brett Lane & Associates Pty Ltd (BL&A) is a specialist ecological consultancy that can assist you by undertaking a flora and fauna survey and preparing a report suitable to accompany your development consent application. The BL&A team comprises about 20 Zoologists and Botanists. This depth of expertise and experience makes us one of the leading ecological consultancies in south-eastern Australia. For more information on our experience and capabilities click here
The aim of a flora and fauna survey is to gain an understanding of which flora and fauna species and ecological communities may be present on and near a project site. During a flora and fauna survey experienced botanists and zoologists search for the features below.
The survey is also undertaken to identify any rare flora and fauna protected under legislation that may occur or potentially occur in the study area.
Rare and threatened flora and fauna species and ecological communities are listed under legislation and policy documents in Victoria, including:
Special measures to protect rare flora and fauna can also be outlined in local council planning policies and overlays.
Information is gathered during the flora and fauna assessment to identify where habitats occur and the potential impacts on these from a proposed development. In many cases, the extent of impact must be evaluated against a range of criteria to ascertain if particular legislation and regulations might affect a project. If they do then further assessments and refinements to project design may be required to ensure impacts are acceptable to decision-makers.
Opportunities to minimise impacts on flora and fauna are then formulated by identifying areas particularly important to flora and fauna, and detailing mitigation measures to avoid and mitigate any impacts on these areas. BL&A has had extensive experience in solving the problems associated with possible conflict between legislation and policy protecting flora and fauna, and a development project. Resolving any potential conflict optimises outcomes on project sites for flora and fauna, and for the project.
Targeted surveys for rare flora and fauna are recommended where insufficient information is available during the initial assessment to clarify a species’ status on a site or the impacts of a project on it. BL&A undertakes all rare flora and fauna surveys in accordance with the relevant survey guidelines, including those from the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and State environment departments.
BL&A’s flora and fauna surveys are undertaken by experienced botanists and zoologists with extensive knowledge of rare flora and fauna throughout south-eastern Australia.
When do I need to undertake a flora and fauna survey?
We recommend that a flora and fauna survey be undertaken at the commencement of project planning so that all available information is gathered from a project site. Getting this information early in your project planning ensures that the design of your project can respond to any significant flora and fauna issues before you incur costs in preparing detailed project plans and associated consent application documents. This in turn can reduce your project’s impacts on flora and fauna, and improve the chances of it having an acceptable impact on flora and fauna in the eyes of the decision-makers.
When do I need to undertake a threatened flora and fauna survey?
The impact of development on threatened flora and fauna cannot be adequately assessed without knowledge of which rare flora and fauna species occur on a project site and where their habitats are located. An initial flora and fauna assessment will identify the potential for a threatened species to occur but the time available during the initial survey, or the seasonal timing of the first assessment, may make it impossible to confirm the species’ status on a site. The potential occurrence of rare species is determined through a combination of existing information from the surrounding area, where there may be confirmed records of it, and the nature and suitability of habitat on the project site for the species.
Can threatened flora and fauna surveys be undertaken at any time of the year?
The short duration of an initial flora and fauna assessment, as well as its seasonal timing may make it impossible to confirm the status of a rare or threatened flora or fauna species on a project site. Therefore, rare and threatened flora and fauna surveys must be undertaken when the species is most likely to be detected. For example many rare flora species only flower for a few months of the year, and some rare fauna are only active during certain seasons. Spring and summer are particularly important times for rare and threatened flora and fauna surveys. BL&A can advise on the most suitable time of year to undertake rare flora and fauna surveys to assist you in project planning.
Can anyone undertake threatened flora and fauna surveys?
Many rare flora and fauna species are difficult to identify, or survey methods are very specific. Therefore surveys for rare flora and fauna species should only be undertaken by experienced botanists and zoologists, such as the experienced team at BL&A.