There are approximately 180,000 kilometres of public roads in NSW. Coupled with other linear reserves, it is estimated that the linear reserve network covers about 6% of the State’s area.

These linear reserves and undeveloped land for new road construction contain important biodiversity that is rare in the surrounding landscape. Biodiversity is the variety of life forms, including flora and fauna, the genes they contain and the ecosystems in which they live.

Roads and Maritime Services works in partnership with other landowners, regulators and experts to minimise the impact of its activities to biodiversity through sound evidence-based policy and guidance.

When managing biodiversity, Roads and Maritime aims to:

  • Avoid and minimise impacts first
  • Mitigate impacts where avoidance is not possible
  • Offset where residual impacts cannot be avoided.

The research and management studies for individual projects can be found in our Projects section.

Codes of Practice

Roads and Maritime in cooperation with the Department of Primary Industries (NSW Fisheries) have prepared a Code of Practice for Minor Works in NSW Waterways. The Code simplifies the statutory consultation process required under the Fisheries Management Act for certain dredging and reclamation actions that have been considered by both agencies to be of low risk to native fish and key fish habitats.

The Code:

  • Defines and identifies those dredging and reclamation works which can be undertaken without consultation with NSW Fisheries and those works are not covered by the Code and will continue to require ongoing consultation with NSW Fisheries in accordance with the Fisheries Management Act
  • Specifies the safeguards that must be used for all minor dredging and reclamation works including adherence to the Roads and Maritime Environmental Procedure for Routine and Minor works
  • States the timeframes for which the Code is intended to apply.

Our biodiversity guidelines

Roads and Maritime have developed best practice guidelines for project managers, staff and contractors to use to help protect biodiversity during construction of road projects and ongoing maintenance works.

The guidelines provide a comprehensive range of measures to minimise the impact to flora and fauna, prior to and during the clearing of native vegetation and their habitats.

The guidelines include protocols for the:

  • Protection of surrounding areas excluded from clearing
  • Staged removal of vegetation and habitat trees
  • Handling of fauna found during clearing
  • Weed and pathogen management
  • Re-use of vegetation and removal of other habitat features such as bushrock
  • Provision of supplementary fauna habitat such as nest boxes and
  • Re-establishment of native vegetation

Biodiversity offsetting

Roads and Maritime seeks to avoid, minimise and mitigate the impacts of roads and other infrastructure on biodiversity during the development and design of its projects. Where impacts cannot be avoided or mitigated, Roads and Maritime looks to offset these impacts using the NSW BioBanking and Offset Scheme administered by OEH.

BioBanking is a market-based scheme that provides:

  • A consistent biodiversity assessment process for development
  • A rigorous and credible offsetting scheme
  • An opportunity for rural property owners to generate income by managing land for conservation.

Under this scheme, property owners enter a BioBanking agreement with the NSW Minister for the Environment and can then sell the biodiversity credits generated by their properties.  More information about this scheme including details of the credits Roads and Maritime wish to buy and have purchased can be found on the Office of Environment and Heritage website.

Roads and Maritime has prepared a guideline for property owners who may be interested in selling biodiversity credits to Roads and Maritime. The guideline explains the approach taken by Roads and Maritime when making offers to purchase credits and to negotiate credit value as part of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) BioBanking scheme.

Other offsetting mechanisms

The BioBanking Scheme is a relatively new offsetting mechanism in NSW. In the past Roads and Maritime has also relied on a number of other offsetting mechanisms including

  1. Buying and transferring land to public land managers, including the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, for in perpetuity conservation management;
  2. Supporting the NSW Conservation Trust to place a conservation covenant on private land under the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001
  3. Supporting public and other land managers, including local Councils, with funds to actively manage biodiversity on existing public lands.  

These mechanisms are still occasionally used by Roads and Maritime consistent with relevant NSW and Commonwealth legislation and policy. 

Details of where these mechanisms have been used by Roads and Maritime across NSW is shown below.

Roads and Maritime regions: A map showing the location of the Roads and Maritime regions.

Western South West Southern Sydney Hunter Northern

Biodiversity research

Roads and Maritime Services funds research into measures that may minimise the impact of roads on biodiversity. Biodiversity research assists planning, design, construction and maintenance of the road network.

Roads and Maritime has funded research on:

  • The design and effectiveness of fauna underpasses and overpasses
  • Impact of roads (construction and operation) on koalas
  • Threatened microbats on bridges
  • The design of transparent noise walls to minimise bird strike
  • The impact of bridge construction and operation on mangrove and estuarine saltmarsh habitats
  • Research on scent deterrents in the management of vehicle and fauna collisions
  • Green and Golden Bell Frog population monitoring
  • Threatened bird, reptile and fish responses to road construction
  • Translocation of threatened species and rehabilitation of key habitat (Purple Copper Butterfly – Paralucia spinifera)
  • Offsetting biodiversity impacts.

Roadside Environment Committee

The NSW Government established the NSW Roadside Environment Committee (REC) in 1994 to promote and coordinate leading practice in linear reserve environmental management across the State. Find out more about the Roadside Environment Committee.


Selling biodiversity credits to Roads and Maritime guideline

January 2017

Fact sheet for property owners interested in selling biodiversity credits to Roads and Maritime

Roads and Maritime biodiversity guidelines

Code of Practice for Minor Works in NSW Waterways

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