The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government's key piece of environmental legislation which commenced 16 July 2000. The EPBC Act enables the Australian Government to join with the states and territories in providing a truly national scheme of environment and heritage protection and biodiversity conservation. The EPBC Act focuses Australian Government interests on the protection of matters of national environmental significance, with the states and territories having responsibility for matters of state and local significance. The EPBC Act affects any group or individual (including companies) whose actions may have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.
The Department creates and manages databases, datasets and tools to define the nine matters of national environmental significance protected under the EPBC Act. These matters are:
- world heritage properties
- national heritage places
- wetlands of international importance (listed under the Ramsar Convention)
- listed threatened species and ecological communities
- migratory species protected under international agreements
- Commonwealth marine areas
- the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
- nuclear actions (including uranium mines)
- a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.
The geospatial tools and datasets are key in self-assessment process by the person/s proposing to take the action, and for informing decision making in the department in support of the EPBC Act.