Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
Victoria’s biodiversity target is a net improvement in the outlook for all species by 2037. The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (the FFG Act) is a key tool in achieving this target.
It is the key piece of Victorian legislation for the conservation of threatened species and communities and for the management of potentially threatening processes.
The FFG Act places importance on prevention to ensure that more species do not become threatened in the future. The Act emphasises the importance of cooperative approaches to biodiversity conservation and recognises that all government agencies and the community need to participate in the conservation effort.
The Act's objectives aim to conserve all of Victoria's native plants and animals. Discover more about the FFG Act below.
a. to guarantee that all taxa of Victoria's flora and fauna, other than taxa specified in the Excluded list, can persist and improve in the wild and retain their capacity to adapt to environmental changes; and
b. to prevent taxa and communities of flora and fauna from becoming threatened and to recover threatened taxa and communities so their conservation status improves; and
c. to protect, conserve, restore and enhance biodiversity, including -
i. flora and fauna and their habitats; and
ii. genetic diversity; and
iii. ecological communities; and
iv. ecological processes; and
d. to identify and mitigate the impacts of potentially threatening processes to address the important underlying causes of biodiversity decline; and
e. to ensure the use of biodiversity as a natural resource is ecologically sustainable; and
f. to identify and conserve areas of Victoria in respect of which critical habitat determinations are made.
Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Act 2019
The FFG Act has been amended to provide a modern and strengthened framework for the protection of Victoria’s biodiversity.
The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Act 2019 (the Amendment Act) came into effect on June 1, 2020.
The Amendment Act:
- introduces principles to guide the implementation of the FFG Act, including consideration of the rights and interests of Traditional Owners and the impacts of climate change
- requires consideration of biodiversity across government to ensure decisions and policies are made with proper consideration of the potential impacts on biodiversity
- clarifies existing powers to determine critical habitat and improves their protection by encouraging cooperative management
- gives effect to a consistent national approach to assessing and listing threatened species using the Common Assessment Method (CAM), which will reduce duplication of effort between jurisdictions and facilitate the monitoring and reporting of species’ conservation status
- modernises the FFG Act’s enforcement framework including stronger penalties.
The Bill as passed by Parliament, the Explanatory Memorandum, and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change’s Second Reading Speech are available on the Victorian Legislation website.
More information about the review of the Act, including the public consultation paper and submission summary are available from the Engage Victoria website.
The amended Act may impact the work of the department, individuals, companies or public authorities.
Critical Habitat Determination Guidelines
How critical habitat determinations are considered under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act
The loss and degradation of habitat is often the most significant threat to ecosystems and species, including those listed on the Threatened Species List. In some cases, certain areas of habitat may be critical for the persistence and recovery of species at risk of extinction. If there are threats that would impact on these critical habitat areas, their risk of extinction may increase.
To manage the risk of impacts to important habitat, the Secretary may determine an area as ‘Critical Habitat’ for a particular species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (the Act).
In accordance with section 20E of the Act, the Secretary has made guidelines in relation to areas that may be eligible for critical habitat determinations. These include:
- The area of habitat must be essential to a taxon or community.
- The threat facing the habitat value of the area cannot adequately be managed by existing arrangements.
- A critical habitat determination would improve the level of protection against the threats faced.
A determination of critical habitat means that the Secretary must take all reasonable steps to enter into a land management agreement or with the public land manager or the landowner (for private land) to provide for the long-term conservation and protection of the critical habitat.
The Minister may make a habitat conservation order if the threats to the habitat cannot be adequately addressed by the making of a critical habitat determination with or without a land management agreement.
Habitat Conservation Orders
A habitat conservation order is one of the tools that the Minister can use to help conserve or recover threatened species. It is a tool that is used when enhanced regulation is necessary to manage risks or impacts. These orders offer greater protection to an area through powers and actions that may include restriction of activities and development, empowering the secretary to undertake works to conserve or manage the habitat, suspending licences or authorisations.
The Minister must consider if a habitat conservation order is required within two years of a critical habitat determination being made and must only be made when the Minister considers it necessary to either halt, prevent or repair damage that has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur to the critical habitat or proposed critical habitat.
Mount Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly
The Mt Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly, Riekoperla darlingtoni, is one of the two species of wingless stoneflies found in Australia. It is the only wingless species of stonefly found in Victoria. This species is listed as critically endangered under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
The Wingless Stoneflies are found within a 1km radius from the summit of Mt Donna Buang, within the Yarra Ranges National Park. With such a limited range, any disturbance or development has the potential to severely impact the species.
The Scientific Advisory Committee made a recommendation to the Secretary to make a critical habitat determination. The Secretary decided not to make a critical habitat determination because the existing arrangements adequately mitigate threats to the habitat value of the area. The Secretary considered the Minister for Planning’s decision to amend the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Project, removing proposed trails that presented unacceptable risks of significant effects to the Mount Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly and its habitat.
The full statement of reasons for this decision can be found below.
The FFG Act is supported by the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Regulations 2020. The Regulations were made under section 69 of the FFG Act. The key elements of the Regulations are:
- eligibility criteria for the listing of taxa, communities of flora or fauna and potentially threatening processes;
- information that must be included in nominations for the listing of taxa of flora and fauna;
- decision-making criteria for licences, permits and authorisations consistent with the updated objectives of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act; and
- the form of notices, applications and certificates issued under the Act.
The Regulations include the following schedules:
Schedule 1 - Eligibility criteria for determining eligibility for listing of species (taxa) of flora or fauna under the FFG Act
Schedule 2 - Eligibility criteria for determining eligibility for listing of communities of flora or fauna under the FFG Act
Schedule 3 - Eligibility criteria for determining eligibility for listing of potentially threatening processes under the FFG Act
Schedule 4 - Prescribed Information required by the FFG Act to be provided with nominations
Schedule 5 – Forms, e.g. notices, applications and certificates used under the FFG Act
Visit the Victorian Legislation website for a current version of the Regulations.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s key piece of environmental legislation. While the Victorian Government has primary responsibility for environmental protection across the State, any action (e.g. proposal or project) in Victoria that is likely to have a significant impact on a ‘matter of national environmental significance’ must be referred to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the EPBC Act to determine whether an action can proceed.
The Australian Government and all states and territories in Australia have agreed to establish a Common Assessment Method for the assessment and listing of threatened species. The CAM will facilitate a nationally consistent approach to the listing of threatened species using IUCN categories and criteria and the alignment of threatened species lists across Australia into a single operational list.
The FFG Act requires that a Biodiversity Strategy is prepared which includes proposals for achieving the objectives of the Act, targets to measure the achievement of the objectives and a monitoring, evaluation and reporting framework.
Protecting Victoria’s Environment - Biodiversity 2037 is the current Biodiversity Strategy under the FFG Act.
The Wildlife Act aims to ensure the protection and sustainable use of all wildlife, which includes native wildlife, as well as non-native wildlife such as deer that has been declared to be wildlife.
The Wildlife Act works in conjunction with the FFG Act to protect threatened species. However, it also contains extensive provisions which are not directly related to threatened species, such as protection of whales and seals, the management of wildlife and nature reserves and the regulation of the keeping and trading of wildlife. The FFG Act lists all threatened species – flora, fauna and fish – and the Wildlife Act provides regulatory protection to threatened wildlife.
More information can be found on our wildlife page.
Page last updated: 22/02/24