Protected Plant Surveys


Get expert advice prior to clearing vegetation to help navigate the entire Protect Plant Survey process. We can help you determine whether your property is located within a high-risk clearing area under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and how to complete planned clearing.

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Are protected plants present within your planned clearing area?

Our Botanists are experienced with guiding you through the process and can provide you with information on whether your planned works is within a protected plant trigger area and can determine whether or not exemptions apply in your case. The outcome of this will ascertain whether a Protected Plant Survey (PPS) will need to be undertaken.

We are able to mitigate significant impacts on protected plants whilst facilitating planned works so that an acceptable outcome is determined each time.

Who can we help

If you are a property owner wishing to clear vegetation, we can help you. Regardless of the size of your property, we can help you mitigate your environmental impact.

We help our clients navigate the PPS process and provide expert advice to help facilitate planned vegetation clearing. Our process involves:

  • Consultation with property owner
  • Determine if property is located in high-risk clearing area
  • Review exemptions under Nature Conservation Act 1992
  • If Protect Plant Survey is required, a botanist will conduct fieldwork & provide report
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The Process

Our team is dedicated to making the whole process easy for our clients and you are kept advised of the progress every step of the way.

Review Your Property For Risk

1. Prior to clearing vegetation, it must be determined whether your property is located within a high-risk clearing area under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

2. Determine if there are exemptions under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 to undertake vegetation clearing that would allow clearing without conducting a protected plant survey.

3. If it is determined that a PPS is required then a standardised survey is undertaken as per the Flora Survey Guidelines – Protected Plants by a qualified botanist to determine if any protected plants are present within the planned works area. This process is dependent on the size of the clearing area and the number of vegetation or habitat types that are present.

What happens once you receive the report

A completed protected plant survey report must be submitted to the Department of Environment and Science no less than one (1) week prior to clearing and no later than 12 months after survey completion.

If no protected plants are recorded on the property or protected plants are located in an area that will not be impacted by planned works, this is considered exempt, and no further permitting is required.  Notification of clearing to the Department is still required.

If protected plants are located within the works area then a protected plant clearing permit must be obtained from the Department of Environment and Science. This requires the impact area/s to be defined in relation to the clearing area and a supporting impact management plan is required.  Once this is satisfied a permit will be granted from the Department.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Protected Plant Survey?

A protected plant survey (PPS) is a legislative instrument under the Qld Nature Conservation Act 1992 designed to manage the loss of protected flora species ie. those listed as Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered. It works on broad state-based mapping system whereby areas deemed to be a high risk of containing threatened plants are marked in green. Any green area is determined to be a “protected plants trigger area”. Any development requiring vegetation disturbance within a protected plants trigger area is required to undertake a protected plant survey (PPS). This is true regardless of the vegetation listing under the Vegetation Management Act 1999. Therefore, non-remnant vegetation is not necessarily exempt from this process. The Nature Conservation Act 1992 is separate legislation.

Who do you provide PPS for?

We provide this service to property owners across the state of Queensland

Why do I need a PPS?

If a land owner intends to clear vegetation within a flora trigger area (marked green) then they are likely to require a PPS. There are exemptions listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 that permit the clearing of vegetation for some activities i.e clearing for fire breaks, boundary fences etc.

4 Elements Consulting can provide you with information on whether your planned works is within a protected plant trigger area and determine whether or not exemptions apply in your case.

What protected plant services can 4 Elements help with?

4 Elements Consulting can help you with:

  • Protected Plant Survey (PPS)
  • Protected plant clearing permit
  • Protected plant clearing exemptions
  • Advice on the Nature Conservation Act

What locations do you offer this service?

The protected plant survey is relevant to the state of Queensland. 4 elements consulting are a Far North Qld based company with work focused on the Wet Tropics, Einasleigh Uplands and Cape York Peninsular bioregions. However, we are experienced to conduct protected plant surveys across the state in all vegetation types.

How long does a PPS report take?

The field work component will generally be completed within the day for small sites. However, on large properties, a number of days may be required to satisfy the required search effort. The reporting component is generally returned to the client with a two (2) week turn around.

What qualifications are needed to undertake a PPS to property owners?

Any person engaged to undertake a PPS must be considered a suitably qualified person under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 guidelines. This requires a professional qualification or formal training within Queensland plant identification and a minimum of five (5) years’ experience undertaking surveys for threatened flora species.

All botanists at 4 Elements Consulting are approved by the Qld Department of Environment and Heritage to be suitably qualified to undertake protected plant surveys within Qld.

What do I need to prepare to have a PPS site visit?

Generally, the only requirement of the land owner is that site access is available to the botanist conducting the survey. Everything else is arranged by 4 Elements.

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Choose an environmental company with the right qualifications

A wide range of qualifications are necessary to be approved by the Qld Department of Environment and Science in order to be suitably qualified to undertake Protected Plant Surveys within Qld. All botanists at 4 Elements Consulting are suitably qualified to undertake Protected Plant Surveys so the process can be completed correctly the first time.

Undertaking protected plant surveys often requires a high level of knowledge in plant ecology and taxonomy. Threatened plants are often difficult to find and may only be detectable at certain times of the year. Any person who conducts a PPS must be suitably qualified. If they are not determined suitable the process will likely require a repeated effort by someone who does satisfy these requirements.

Key relevant project experience

Past completed Protect Plant Survey projects:

  • Mount Emerald Wind Farm and offset site – Conduct protected plant surveys for a number of threatened species within the western “dry zone” of the wet tropics.
  • Stoney Creek subdivision Douglas Track Road – Determine presence of protected plants within lowland tropical vine forest.
  •  Tully Falls Road Subdivision – Located Vulnerable listed orchid Dendrobium fellowsii within the planned works area. Negotiated an acceptable outcome with Department of Environment and Science which included translocation a number of individuals from the works area to the a designated covenant area.
  • High Road Wind Farm – Conduct protected plant surveys locating the Endangered listed Melaleuca sylvana, Vulnerable listed Homoranthus porteri and Dendrobium fellowsii and the Near threatened Diuris oporina.

Qualified Botanists in the field tagging protect plants while undertaking Protected Plant Survey in Queensland

Why Choose 4 Elements Consulting

4 Elements consulting is a specialist environmental consultancy based in Cairns, North Queensland. The company was established in early 2017 by Mellissa Brown on a strong research and project management background built from over 25 years in the industry.

We are suitably qualified and experienced and have delivered results across the state. Our PPS mitigation process is highly skilled with a number of successful translocation projects.

Get your property professionally reviewed

When choosing us to assess your property we can guarantee complete legislative compliance when clearing vegetation on your property. To get in touch with us for a consultation, click the button below to fill out our form and we’ll contact you soon.

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