Biodiscovery in Queensland

About biodiscovery

Biodiscovery involves the collection and use of native biological material (e.g. plants, animals and other organisms) for commercial applications (e.g. pharmaceuticals and insecticides).

In Queensland, biodiscovery is regulated under the Biodiscovery Act 2004. If you want to collect and use native biological material from State land or Queensland waters for biodiscovery certain permits and agreements need to be in place. The Biodiscovery in Queensland guideline provides information to help determine if an activity is considered biodiscovery.

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.

This immense biodiversity creates significant opportunities to explore beneficial uses of those plants and animals through biodiscovery. For example, 50% of the approved drugs in the past 30 years have been made either directly or indirectly from products found in nature.

Biodiscovery laws in Queensland

Queensland was the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce best-practice biodiscovery legislation for those undertaking biodiscovery activities. This permitting approach increases certainty and efficiency, and promotes conservation and sustainable use of Queensland's native biological resources. This regulatory framework allows biodiscovery entities to demonstrate compliance with the legal requirements in Queensland, and helps demonstrate alignment with international laws.

Biodiscovery Act 2004

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 2004 aims to ensure biodiscovery activities in Queensland are sustainable, while returning a fair and equitable benefit to the community.

Following reforms to the Biodiscovery Act 2004 in September 2020, biodiscovery entities are required to seek agreement with traditional knowledge custodians before using traditional knowledge for biodiscovery (the traditional knowledge obligation). A traditional knowledge code of practice will be developed in consultation with First Nations peoples and biodiscovery entities, and will help organisations know how to comply with the traditional knowledge obligation.

This is achieved through approvals and agreements administered by the Department of Environment and Science, including collection authorities and benefit sharing agreements.

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.


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