Department of Parks adn Wildlife

The new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 will replace both the Wildlife Conservation Act and the Sandalwood Act. On 3 December 2016, several parts of the new Act were proclaimed by the State Governor in the Government Gazette. The parts that came into effect include:

While the Act provides new arrangements for biodiversity conservation covenants, these arrangements do not replace or invalidate existing registered nature conservation covenants, which will continue unaffected.

Provisions that replace those existing under the Wildlife Conservation Act and Sandalwood Act (including threatened species listings and controls over the taking and keeping of native species) and their associated Regulations cannot be brought into effect until the necessary Biodiversity Conservation Regulations are developed. Drafting of the new Biodiversity Conservation Regulations is underway and consulation is currently occuring with information on the proposed regulations available for comment.

Humpback whale breaching
Humpback whales can be found off the coast of WA.
Photo – DBCA

Why was the new Act needed?

The Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and the Sandalwood Act 1929 were outdated.  The Wildlife Conservation Act was in place for 66 years and does not have the features of modern biodiversity conservation legislation.  Rather, it had a regulatory-based approach, reflecting its origins in the Game Act 1892 and Game Act 1912.  The Fauna Protection Act 1950 was amended to become the Wildlife Conservation Act in 1980 when provisions for the protection and conservation of flora (native plants) were incorporated. 

The Wildlife Conservation Act provided no promotion or encouragement for biodiversity conservation, no provisions for consultation and fully overlaps with fisheries legislation. 

Likewise, the Sandalwood Act did not sufficiently regulate the harvest of Western Australia’s precious wild sandalwood resource.  The Sandalwood Act only provided limited control on the process of wild harvesting, with a maximum penalty of $200, and no significant control over transport, storage, processing or sale of wild harvested sandalwood product.


Perth Hills

A new day is dawning for biodiversity protection in WA – sunrise over the Perth Hills.
Photo – DBCA

How is the new Act different?

The new Act addresses the failings of the old Acts in a number of ways, including:

All authorisations for traditional taking of protected native plants and animals by Aboriginal people that were in place under the Wildlife Conservation Act are continuing under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.

More information on the differences between the Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Wildlife Conservation Act and Sandalwood Act is summarised in the following document:

Where can I get a copy of the Act?

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 is available from the State Law Publisher’s website:

Copies of the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and Sandalwood Act 1929 are also available from the same website. 

Biodiversity Conservation Regulations are now being developed to enable the implementation of other parts of the Biodiversity Conservation Act. Ministerial Guidelines that provide detail on how some provisions of the Act are to be implemented are also being developed.

Have your say on the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations and Ministerial Guidelines

The Biodiversity Conservation Regulations will support the Biodiversity Conservation Act and provide for the licensing and management of activities that affect biodiversity. 

When will the changes commence?

On 3 December 2016, several parts of the new Act were proclaimed by the State Governor in the Government Gazette.

The remaining provisions of the Act will come into effect when the Regulations commence.  It is intended that the Regulations will be published in the Government Gazette by mid-September 2018, but will not come into effect until 1 January 2019.  A community communication program is currently underway to let people know about the new Regulations and what the changes may mean for them.  Meetings with stakeholders who represent licensees are being held to ensure the new Regulations are appropriate and are communicated within stake holder groups and the wider community.

What changes are anticipated?

The Regulations provide for the licensing and management of activities that affect biodiversity.  The majority of the activities that are currently licensed under the Wildlife Conservation and Sandalwood Acts will continue to require a licence under the new Regulations. 

Transitional arrangements are in place to ensure that those people who have a wildlife licence will continue to have a valid licence once the new Regulations commence without needing to apply for a new licence.  New licence types will then be issued once an existing licence expires.

There are some activities that are not currently licensed that will require a licence under the new arrangements including:

Some simplification of the licensing system is also proposed, including:

More information on the changes that will affect particular activities or licensees is available in the below discussion notes.

Discussion notes

Have your say?

Meetings with stakeholder groups who represent licensees are being held to ensure the new Regulations are appropriate and communicated. Your feedback can be provided via one or more of these stakeholder group representatives, or individually.

Ministerial Guidelines

The Biodiversity Conservation Act provides a statutory basis for the listing of threatened species, specially protected species, threatened ecological communities, critical habitat and key threatening processes.
While the Act provides the broader criteria for listing the above, the Ministerial Guidelines provide further details on the criteria and procedures that apply.
Ministerial Guideline No. 1 provides more detail on the procedures that can be used for members of the community to nominate a species, ecological community or threatening process for listing as a threatened species, threatened ecological community or key threatening process.


Your feedback on the Biodiversity Regulations and Ministerial Guidelines is encouraged.

The closing date for comments on the Ministerial Guidelines is 30 September 2018.  Initial comments on the discussion notes are being sought from stakeholder reference groups by 31 July 2018, however feedback on the discussion notes can continue to be provided up until 30 September 2018.  A report summarising the feedback received and how it has been addressed will be published by the Department at the end of 2018.

Please send your comments and suggestions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.