Ecological Assessment Introduction Guide Queensland

Nicolaas Kerkmeester December 01, 2022

This article introduces the requirements of an Ecological Assessment in Queensland, which forms part of the development application process. We provide details on how we assist our clients through this process.

What is an Ecological Assessment?

The ecological assessment for developments in Queensland will vary according to the development approval pathway.

A small development, such as a residential development, is typically subject to the requirements of the local government planning scheme. The local Council will liaise with state government agencies as part of the assessment where State matters are triggered. Most local governments provide guidelines for ecological assessments to accompany development applications.

More complex developments may require submission to your local Council or maybe ‘called in’ by the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) for assessment. Infrastructure projects, such as road, rail and energy infrastructure, are often subject to separate approvals processes and/or are exempt from some components of standard planning approvals processes. 

For developments where matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) are present, depending on the scale of impact, it may be necessary to refer the development to the Commonwealth government. MNES include threatened species; threatened ecological communities; lands, waters or species subject to international agreements or treaties, including migratory shorebirds; World Heritage Areas and Ramsar wetlands. 

Why is ecological assessment critical?

An Ecological Assessment is part of the regulatory requirements for development applications in Queensland. An Ecological Assessment provides a means of identifying protected species or areas and determining the potential impacts of the development on these sensitivities.

How do you conduct an ecological assessment?

Qualified and experienced environmental professionals undertake Ecological Assessments. They are developed to include the relevant ecological information necessary for the development application. This will typically consist of the following:

– Description of the development

– Results of the ecological desktop assessments and field-based surveys

– An assessment of the impacts from the development on ecological values

– Recommendations to avoid or mitigate impacts of the development on ecological values

– Any further actions required

For a development application with minor disturbance, we assist our clients through the Ecological Assessment process through these steps:

– Undertake an onsite inspection of the proposed development and discussions about the works including clearing and other ground disturbance methodologies

– Inspection of disturbance area including vegetation to be cleared 

– Development of Ecological Assessment Report with details from supporting reports such as arborist reports or flora and fauna surveys

– Development of management measures and offsets to minimise and mitigate the impacts from the proposed development

– Submission to local Council

– Follow up with the Council on the lodgement of the Ecological Assessment Report and respond to any questions including updating the Plan as required

As part of the Ecological Assessment, planning and design considerations are firstly considered to minimise potential environmental impacts. This may include minimising the disturbance area, avoiding areas with high biodiversity values, using existing cleared areas, and locating new infrastructure near existing infrastructure. Management measures are developed to minimise impacts including managing the vegetation clearing process.

How can Applied Environment & Safety Help?

Applied Environment & Safety has been assisting local clients with ecological assessments for their proposed developments against the Noosa Plan 2020: Biodiversity, Waterways and Wetlands Overlay Code. We have diverse experience in development applications and environmental impact assessment. This allows us to identify potential impacts and develop practical mitigation and management measures.

Google Review from our local client

Jeff Sly –

“I highly recommend, Applied Environment & Safety, the service I received, was above and beyond, what I expected when I requested their expertise in this field. Melanie, and her team, provided a comprehensive Environmental report for the approval process to progress; we had numerous issues satisfying council requirements. Melanie worked through the issues meticulously, until approval was granted. Tanya and Jeff.”