DI(G) 40-2 sets out responsibilities for situations where personnel require further advice or assessment regarding activity impacts or management of specific biodiversity issues:
The primary point of contact is the regional environmental office of the Defence Support Organisation. Regional staff are responsible for general management of biodiversity on the Defence estate, including commissioned studies of management issues at a site and projects aimed at enhancing or protecting biodiversity values. Regional staff can provide advice on what environmental issues are relevant to a site, what reports or other information are available, and what controls are applicable to a specific activity. They can also advise on whether a planned activity might require referral to the Directorate of Environmental Impact Management (DEIM) because it might impact a matter deemed to be of National Significance under the EPBC Act, or because it might have a significant environmental impact.
The Directorate of Heritage and Biodiversity Conservation (DHBC) in the Defence Support Group is responsible for biodiversity policy. The DHBC does not generally seek or provide funding for biodiversity projects unless they inform an aspect of policy development. The primary role of the DHBC is to interpret legislation and Commonwealth Government policy to ensure that Defence biodiversity management policy aligns with Defence’s responsibilities. The DHBC provides advice to the DEIM on biodiversity issues relating to activities lodged through the Project Review and Approval Process (PRAP), and to Defence staff generally on policy matters that cannot be addressed at the regional level. The DHBC also provides Defence input into inter-governmental panels and development of new and revised Commonwealth Government policies to ensure Defence’s interests are represented in changes to policy that could have an impact on Defence activities.
The DHBC is currently developing a new biodiversity management policy incorporating relevant aspects of the Commonwealth Government’s “Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation strategy 2010-2030” and other recent developments in biodiversity management. All actions taken by Defence and its contractors must comply with the policy, whether the action takes place on or off the Defence estate. The following draft principles underpin the policy. Detailed guidance will also be provided in the policy on problematic issues such as offsetting environmental impacts and assessing when a proposed action should be deemed significant. Comments or questions on the draft principles or policy can be directed to email@example.com.
- The Department of Defence will comply with the EPBC Act and other relevant legislation to protect biodiversity within Australia and overseas.
- Notwithstanding the EPBC Act and other requirements for species-specific measures, the Defence Estate will preferentially be managed at the landscape level to ensure maintenance of ecosystems, their constituent species and the processes that sustain them.
- It is far better to avoid causing damage to natural systems than to attempt to compensate for such impacts.
- Actions taken to enhance or protect biodiversity on the Defence Estate should not exclude current or future operational uses unless there is a legislative requirement to do so.
- Where practical, existing ecosystems on the Defence Estate will be enhanced to improve function and connectivity.
- Partnerships with surrounding landholders and other key land managers should be explored to; build ecosystem resilience, offset the impacts of encroachment and development, and to secure the long-term capacity of the environment to support military uses.
- The regional context of Defence establishments will be explicitly taken into account when planning and undertaking actions.
- The Department will conduct a determined program of estate characterisation with a view to discovering, mapping and prioritising the biological values of managed lands to assist the planning process.
- Biodiversity management will be standardised and transparent across all parts of the Defence Estate.