Transport strives to protect and enhance biodiversity with the goal of achieving no net loss of biodiversity as a consequence of its infrastructure development activities.
Our Biodiversity Policy sets out our approach to avoid, minimise, mitigate and offset our impacts including our commitment to replace native and amenity trees unavoidably lost through development.
There are over 220,000 kilometres of public roads in NSW including over 40,000 kilometres of State and Regional roads and over 180,000 kilometres of local roads. Many roads, particularly in rural areas, exist within a ‘roadside reserve’ which provides a buffer between the road and neighbouring lands. ‘Road reserves’ cover approximately 1 million hectares, of which about 50% contains native vegetation.
There are also over 10,000 kilometres of rail lines in NSW including active and inactive freight lines and sidings, light rail, railways and Sydney Metro. Like road reserves, remnant vegetation can be found in some rail reserves which cover approximately 55,000 hectares, of which about 42% contains native vegetation.
Linear infrastructure corridors, including road and rail reserves, often contain important biodiversity that is rare in the surrounding landscape and can provide the habitat connectivity needed to maintain viable habitats overtime.
Biodiversity guidelines: Protecting and managing biodiversity on projects
Transport has developed best practice Biodiversity Guidelines (PDF, 8.08 MB) 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
- re-establishment of native vegetation.
Microbat management guidelines
Transport for NSW has also prepared Microbat Management Guidelines (PDF, 2.85 MB)to assist Transport staff undertaking works in culverts, bridges and other structures. These guidelines target the three species of bats most commonly found in Transport structures being Southern Myotis (Myotis macropus), Large bent-winged Bat (Miniopterus orianae oceanensis) and the Little Bent-winged Bat (Miniopterus australis)
Transport for NSW has also prepared supplementary guidance (PDF, 167.55 KB) for local government involved in projects impacting bridges and culverts. This factsheet focusses on the Southern Myotis which is the only microbat species known to breed in built structures and, as such, careful management of any potential impacts on Southern Myotis habitat is important.
Koala protection and management
NSW Koala Strategy hotspot program
Transport for NSW, in partnership with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), is looking at ways to reduce the impact of the existing infrastructure network on koalas as part of the NSW Koala Strategy. These works are in addition to koala protection actions routinely undertaken for all new infrastructure development projects such as road duplications and widening projects.
The first Transport vehicle strike hotspot addressed was Picton Road in Wollondilly Shire. Fencing has been installed addressing two known koala vehicle hotspots by channelling koalas towards existing crossings under the road. Koalas have been observed using the crossings and koala vehicles strike has has been significantly reduced since the fencing was completed in 2019.
The second vehicle strike hotspot being investigated is on Heathcote Road at Deadmans Creek on the border between Liverpool and Sutherland Local Government Areas. This area is in close proximity to the Heathcote Road bridge project. Community reports and DPE fauna databases indicate that this location is a worsening area for koala vehicle strike.
Transport has commissioned an Options Report (PDF, 12.36 MB) to examine the options available to reduce vehicle strike at this location in consultation with the Department of Defence and DPIE. This report recommends underbridge improvements to Deadmans Creek Bridge to facilitate koala passage under the bridge and exclusion fencing on both sides of Heathcote Road to funnel koalas to the bridge and minimise koala access to Heathcote Road. Construction of the first stage, being the underbridge improvements to Deadmans Creek bridge was completed late 2023. The second stage of the works, involving the installation of koala exclusion fencing, is currently in planning phase. TfNSW will also continue to work with the Department of Defence in relation to security fencing installed along the boundary of the Defence lands.
For a leading example of how Transport mitigates impacts to koalas as part of its infrastructure development program see the Woolgoolga to Ballina project pages.
Roads and other linear infrastructure can pose a significant barrier to koala movement with vehicle strike a leading cause of koala death and injury within our infrastructure corridors. Transport has been installing connectivity structures for koalas as part of the various road upgrades for many years. These structures have been monitored for use by koalas (and other wildlife) as part of an ongoing program of continuous improvement and design refinement. View the Koala connectivity report - 7 July 2023 (XLSX, 30.94 KB).
The koala connectivity report lists all available records of koala use of a Transport connectivity structure between 2010 and 2023 and provides basic information about structure design. This report is correct as at 9 May 2023 and will be periodically updated as new monitoring information becomes available. A copy of all monitoring reports referenced in the report can be found in this list.
- Impact of roads on koalas 2011-2012 part 1 (PDF, 6.62 MB)
- Bonville Pacific Highway underpass vegetated median rope bridge monitoring (March 2009) (PDF, 1.91 MB)
- Nambucca Heads to Urunga operational phase biodiversity monitoring year 3 (November 2020 (PDF, 8.72 MB))
- Oxley Highway upgrade monitoring of wildlife road crossing structures (June 2013-September 2016) (PDF, 5.4 MB)
- Oxley Highway to Kempsey annual ecological monitoring report 2018-2019 (September 2019) (PDF, 32.8 MB)
- Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads interim underpass monitoring year 1 (February 2019) (PDF, 1.8 MB)
- Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads interim underpass monitoring report year 2 (March 2020) (PDF, 3.04 MB)
- Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads annual underpass monitoring report year 2 - 2019-2020 (April 2021) (PDF, 81.93 MB)
- Woolgoolga to Ballina Koala Monitoring Program Year 2- 2018-2019 (27 August 2019) (PDF, 5.18 MB)
- Woolgoolga to Ballina Koala Monitoring Program year 3 - 2019-2020 (15 September 2020) (PDF, 5.34 MB)
- Yelgun to Chinderah monitoring of koalas and other fauna (March 2014 - February 2015) (PDF, 6.07 MB)
- Coopernook to Herons Creek fauna crossing structure monitoring program (June 2015) (PDF, 2.66 MB)
- Kempsey Bypass underpass monitoring report Autumn (November 2014) (PDF, 9.11 MB)
- Kempsey Bypass fauna mitigation monitoring report (July 2016) (PDF, 6.04 MB)
- Kempsey Bypass fauna mitigation monitoring report (August 2017) (PDF, 3.92 MB)
- Nambucca Heads to Urunga underpass monitoring year 1 construction phase year 3 (13 November 2015) (PDF, 4.32 MB)
- Woolgoolga to Ballina Koala Monitoring Program year 4 2020-2021 (September 2021) (PDF, 4.53 MB)
Transport for NSW 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, Transport either participates in the NSW Biodiversity Offset Scheme or applies the Transport Biodiversity Policy.
The Biodiversity Offset Scheme is a market based biodiversity offsetting scheme administered by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE). It provides:
- a consistent biodiversity assessment process for development based on the principle of no net loss
- a rigorous and credible offsetting scheme
- an opportunity for rural property owners to generate income by managing land for conservation
Under the Biodiversity Offset Scheme property owners enter a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement with the NSW Minister for the Environment and can then sell the biodiversity credits generated by their properties. More information about the scheme can be found on the Biodiversity Conservation Trust website.
Case study examples of biodiversity stewardship and Biobanking agreements sponsored by Transport including agreements over Transport-owned land can be found in the Biodiversity offsets case studies, March 2023 (PDF, 3.27 MB).
Meeting biodiversity offset requirements for approved projects
Transport participates in the Biodiversity Offset Scheme where required by the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW) and provides aquatic offsets where required by the NSW Department of Primary Industry guidelines. This includes most State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) projects. Some projects also require biodiversity offsets under Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act).
The Biodiversity offsets progress report (PDF, 77.8 KB) shows Transport's progress towards meeting its offset requirements for projects that have triggered the Biodiversity Offset Scheme.
In addition, under the Transport Biodiversity Policy Transport offsets impacts below the legislative thresholds for smaller projects authorised by Transport in recognition of the cumulative impacts many small projects can have on biodiversity. This includes replacing trees (both native and amenity trees) and hollows in accordance with the Transport Biodiversity Policy.
Transport for NSW future biodiversity credit demand
Transport starts planning for biodiversity early in the infrastructure development process. Our primary aim is to avoid impacts on biodiversity wherever possible and so understanding what biodiversity values are likely to be present is an important part of the planning process. This work can be done many years in advance of seeking approval for a project.
One of the outcomes of this work are estimates of the type and number of biodiversity credits that Transport may be interested in purchasing in the future, subject to final route selection including design refinements to avoid impacts, and obtaining final planning approval and other authorisations. These estimates comprise potentially market sensitive information that should be shared with the market as early as possible. Consequently, Transport maintains a register of our likely strategic biodiversity credit demand to assist landholders who may be interested in generating biodiversity credits.
Transport's primary aim is to avoid impacts on biodiversity wherever possible, so entries to this register can change as route planning processes progress. Timeframes for credit purchase cannot be reliably estimated and may be within the 5-15yrs from listing on this register. Listing of a credit in this register, however, does not guarantee that Transport will be in the market for that credit at any time in the future.
Once we are ready to participate in the market, Transport will contact potential sellers listed on Biodiversity Offsets Scheme public registers | NSW Environment, Energy and Science and, in some cases, will conduct public ‘expression of interest’ processes.
Transport for NSW 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.
Transport 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
- promoting native fish passage through culverts
- use of nest boxes by native fauna.
Code of Practice for minor works in NSW waterways
The former 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 (PDF, 795.31 KB). 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.
- 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.
Vegetation clearing best practice
Vegetation clearing is a critical environmental compliance risk for Transport for NSW during road construction and maintenance activities. Transport has produced an awareness video for staff and contractors on vegetation clearing best practice.
Roadside Environment Committee
The NSW Roadside Environment Committee was established to promote and coordinate leading practice in linear reserve environmental management across the State.
It currently comprises 12 organisations, including local government, with interests in the management of roadside and other linear reserves in NSW.