The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is Australia’s key environmental legislation, designed to regulate activities that may significantly impact on environmental values we consider to be of national importance.

These environmental values include our native fauna and flora species, places such as spring-dependent communities in the Great Artesian Basin, world heritage areas, national parks and marine parks (including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park), Ramsar wetlands, national heritage places, migratory species and water resources.

The Environmental Defenders Office has worked with the EPBC Act for 20 years, seeking to ensure it is implemented to best protect our treasured natural values, our wildest spaces and our iconic native plants and animals.

EDO lawyers have used the EPBC Act in the Federal Court to challenge activities like land-clearing and whaling, as well as projects like Adani’s Carmichael Mine and its North Galilee Water Scheme and the proposed luxury helicopter tourism development in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

The EPBC Act is open in 2020 for its 10-year statutory review. This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to consider how well the EPBC Act is operating and whether any changes should be made to better protect Australia’s environmental values.

Reports & Analysis

These recent EDO publications explore issues around the EPBC Act.


Our unique plants and wildlife need robust laws to protect them. EDO has produced a guide for members of the community who want to have their say during the EPBC Act Review.


EDO law reform solicitors have been conducting workshops and webinars around the country. These events bring the top experts together to provide reflections on how well the Act has been operating to date, and what, if anything, needs to change to strengthen its operation.

Below are the recordings of some of these presentations to help you with your submissions:

EPBC Act Information Evening Part 1

EPBC Act Information Evening Part 2

EPBC Act Information Evening Part 3

The following papers are referenced in our presentations:
– Reside, A.E., Cosgrove, A.J., Pointon, R., Trezise, J., Watson, J.E.M., Maron, M., 2019. How to send a finch extinct. Environmental Science & Policy 94, 163-173.
– Ward, M.S., Simmonds, J.S., Reside, A.E., Watson, J.E.M., Rhodes, J.R., Possingham, H.P., Trezise, J., Fletcher, R., File, L., Taylor, M., 2019. Lots of loss with little scrutiny: The attrition of habitat critical for threatened species in Australia. Conservation Science and Practice 0, e117.
– Simmonds, J.S., Reside, A.E., Stone, Z., Walsh, J.C., Ward, M.S., Maron, M., 2019. Vulnerable species and ecosystems are falling through the cracks of environmental impact assessments. Conservation Letters n/a, e12694.
– zu Ermgassen, S.O.S.E., Baker, J., Griffiths, R.A., Strange, N., Struebig, M.J., Bull, J.W., 2019. The ecological outcomes of biodiversity offsets under “no net loss” policies: A global review. Conservation Letters 0, e12664.

The EPBC Act at Work

Our lawyers have worked for two decades to ensure the EPBC Act is implemented to best protect our treasured environmental values. See some of our most important cases:

This once-in-a-decade review is a chance to ensure our key environmental laws truly protect Australia’s amazing biodiversity.

See More EPBC Act Publications