A new operational policy to support translocations in NSW

By Timothy Sutton, Senior Project Officer Conservation Programs at NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment


Translocation and captive breeding will play an integral part in securing the future of threatened species in NSW. Historically, translocations in NSW were guided by the Policy for the translocation of threatened fauna in NSW. The former Office of Environment and Heritage (now Department of Planning, Industry and Environment) recently published new guidelines for translocations in NSW: the translocation operational policy (‘the guidelines’). The operational guidelines provide a framework for developing and assessing translocations under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act).

The updated guidelines consolidate animal and plant translocations under a single operational framework, providing guidance that is consistent across taxa and with current legislation. They reflect a more advanced knowledge of the factors influencing translocation outcomes and consider some key contemporary challenges for conservation, including:

  • Climate change. Recipient sites should be climatically-suitable and projected to remain suitable into the future. The guidelines set out the considerations for translocating species threatened by climate change.

  • Captive breeding. Captive breeding programs should have clear conservation purposes, including contribution to conserving existing populations, establishing new populations not in captivity, and protecting against imminent extinction.

  • Mitigation translocation. The guidelines set out circumstances where mitigation translocation is more likely to be supported. Importantly, translocation is generally not an appropriate offset measure, and the guidelines aim to restrict the use of mitigation translocation to those that are more likely to be successful.

  • Animal welfare. Proponents must maximise animal welfare and identify how they will report on it.

  • Biosecurity. In weighing the risks and benefits, proponents must consider the potential transfer of pathogens between sites and populations.

The development of the new guidelines is timely. The introduction of the BC Act formalised the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program (SoS) as the Biodiversity Conservation Program, with the aim to secure as many threatened species as possible for the next 100 years. It is doing this by developing and delivering targeted conservation projects at mapped management sites in NSW.

SoS has identified translocation and captive breeding as a priority conservation action for over 150 threatened plants and animals. For example, SoS is working with organisations like Taronga Conservation SocietyZoos Victoria and the Amphibian Research Centre to breed and reintroduce southern corroboree frogs back into the wild. SoS is also working with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and the University of New South Wales to reintroduce locally extinct mammals back into NSW.

The operational guidelines provide a robust and contemporary framework for developing translocation projects in NSW. They will support the delivery of SoS by ensuring translocation projects are well-planned and executed. We believe that the translocation operational policy will lead to improved outcomes for translocated species.

Before developing your next translocation project, read the translocation operational policy. Email the SoS team if you have any questions about how SoS is using translocation to conserve threatened species. If you have any questions about licensing for translocations, email the Scientific Licensing team. Stay up-to-date with all things SoS by signing up to the SoS newsletter.