Biodiscovery in Queensland

About biodiscovery

Biodiscovery involves collecting samples of native biological materials (e.g. plants, animals and other organisms) to test for compounds that may have commercial applications (e.g. pharmaceuticals and insecticides).

In Queensland, biodiscovery activities conducted on state land or Queensland waters are regulated under the Biodiscovery Act 2004. If you want to take native biological materials from state land or Queensland waters for biodiscovery you will require a special permit (biodiscovery collection authority). Before you use the materials you will require a benefit-sharing agreement with the Queensland Government.

Biodiversity in Queensland

Queensland is Australia's most naturally diverse state. It has 13 terrestrial and 14 marine bioregions supporting more than 1000 ecosystem types, including rainforests, savannas, rangelands, the dry tropics, wetlands and the coast.

Queensland has 70% of Australia's mammals, 80% of its native birds and more than 50% of its native reptiles, frogs and plant species. The state is also home to 5 world heritage listed areas, including the wet tropics, the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island - the largest sand island on earth.

Biodiscovery laws in Queensland

Queensland was the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce best-practice biodiscovery legislation for those undertaking biodiscovery activities. This streamlined permitting approach increases certainty and efficiency, and allows biodiscovery organisations to demonstrate compliance with the legal requirements in Queensland.

Biodiscovery Act 2004 (Qld)

Biodiscovery activities are regulated and defined under the Queensland Government's Biodiscovery Act 2004, and are managed in a manner consistent with Australia's international obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Biodiscovery Act aims to ensure biodiscovery activities in Queensland are undertaken in a sustainable manner, while returning a fair and equitable benefit to the community. This is achieved through:

  • a permitting regime administered by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) and the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing (NPSR)
  • a biodiscovery plan and a benefit-sharing agreement, administered by the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI).

Relevant department for the permitting regime

The relevant administering department for the permitting regime is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending where the proposed biodiscovery activity is to be conducted.

EHP is responsible if the activity is to be conducted on state land or in state waters that is/are located outside of:

  • the protected area estate (except nature refuges)
  • a marine park
  • a forest reserve
  • a recreation areas management area.

NPRSR is responsible if the activity is to be conducted within 1 or more of the above areas.

Queensland Biotechnology Code of Ethics

Your biodiscovery activities must also comply with the Queensland Biotechnology Code of Ethics - an ethical framework to guide the development of biotechnology in Queensland.

The Queensland Biotechnology Code of Ethics is being updated but you can download an interim version of the code.

Other biodiscovery laws

Find out about legislative requirements for accessing biological resources of the Commonwealth and other states and territories.

Also consider...

  • Read a range of biodiscovery resources, including the compliance code for taking native biological material, collection authority application forms, information sheets and guidelines.


General enquiries 13 QGOV (13 74 68)