Biodiversity exists everywhere — including in Canberra Nature Park, on rural properties and in urban Canberra. Legislation and legal agreements for biodiversity conservation are aimed at protecting and managing the diversity of our ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity—the components of biodiversity.

Many territory Acts affect biodiversity, including legislation for land use planning and development, tree protection, the keeping of native and introduced animals, wood collecting, and conservation generally. The two critical pieces of legislation are the ACT’s Nature Conservation Act 2014 (‘Nature Conservation Act’) and the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (‘EPBC Act’).

Biodiversity can also be protected under various agreements between governments and stakeholders that are not expressed in legislation. Some regional and territorywide initiatives, such as the ‘Kosciuszko to Coast’ project, may also benefit biodiversity, but are unlikely to involve any legislative endorsement. The first section of this chapter describes some of these non-legislative instruments which provides the policy context within which the legislation, summarised in later sections, operates.

Understanding the legislation, regulations, and processes that operate in the ACT enables citizens to monitor whether land owners and managers, including the ACT government, are fulfilling their legal obligations to protect the territory’s biodiversity. Knowledge of biodiversity law and practice also enables citizens to participate constructively in public consultations and debates, and take other action that might lead to greater protection of our environment. Citizens should be aware of the limits that are imposed on domestic activities such as keeping animals, growing certain plants and tree removal. Public assistance in reporting activities such as illegal fishing, the taking of plants or wood from reserves and the keeping or trapping of native animals can help to protect biodiversity in the ACT. Informed advocacy may also lead to better education, policing, and prosecution where appropriate.

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