Access to biological resources in Commonwealth areas

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For the purposes of accessing biological resources, Commonwealth areas include:

  • land owned by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth agency (including land owned in Norfolk Island) and airspace over the land

  • an area of land held under lease by the Commonwealth or in a Commonwealth agency (including an area held under lease on Norfolk Island, Kakadu National Park, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and Booderee National Park) and airspace over the land

  • land in:

    • an external Territory (except Norfolk Island) or the Jervis Bay Territory and airspace over the land

    • the continental shelf, and the waters and airspace over the continental shelf

    • the waters of the exclusive economic zone, the seabed under those waters and the airspace above those waters

    • any other area of land, sea or seabed that is included in a Commonwealth reserve

Note: Territory Land in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is not a Commonwealth area. Coastal waters of Australian States and the Northern Territory (to three nautical miles from an agreed baseline) are not Commonwealth areas.

The Protected Area Policy and Biodiscovery Section within the Parks Australia Division of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities manages access to genetic and biochemical resources found in native species in Commonwealth areas.


To access biological resources in most Commonwealth areas you need to apply for a permit.

To access biological resources in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, please contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. To access biological resources in the Australian Antarctic Territory, please contact the Australian Government Antarctic Division.

Please note: Depending on the type of research you are planning to do, you may need to obtain additional permits issued under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act or regulations. For information on other permits that may be required go to


In December 2005 the Australian Government introduced regulations to facilitate access to, and regulate the use of, its native genetic and biochemical resources: