When planning a project, you need to know if your actions might impact the local environment. You can search the Protected Matters Search Tool to see what's protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 . Use it to help work out if you need to lodge a referral or avoid impacts in the project area.
Using our search tool
We've recently improved our Protected Matters Search Tool (PMST). It's easy to use and find what you need. You can define features or areas of interest and explore protected matters in the area.
You'll find step-by-step instructions in the tool, including how to:
- draw a feature to define an area of interest
- explore what's in the area that's protected under the EPBC Act
- create a report to print or save for later.
Information from the PMST is not exhaustive. However, it's a valuable tool for decision-making and research.
Watch our short explainer video
DESCRIPTION: Animation of a grassy clearing, a lizard and a bird. Four square tableaus appear on screen, depicting a train passing by an urban construction site, neatly sowed fields by a farmhouse, wind turbines, and a dump truck carrying a load. Text reads: The Protected Matters Search Tool supports the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
SPEAKER: If you are considering starting a project that might impact the environment in Australia, you may need to refer your project under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, known as the EPBC Act.
DESCRIPTION: Text reads: EPBC Act. Six round icons depict a modern dome-shaped building, a sea turtle in the water, a fish swimming amongst kelp, a densely wooded forest, a black cockatoo perched in a tree and a rock formation. Then a diverse range of people appear.
SPEAKER: The EPBC Act is Australia’s national environmental law. It aims to protect threatened plant and animal species, the landscapes that they live in, our oceans and wetlands, and our heritage places. These protected matters are important to our people, the health of our environment, and our economy.
DESCRIPTION: A desktop monitor, laptop and smartphone appear. Text reads: Protected Matters Search Tool. An icon of a magnifying glass on the laptop screen shows a waterfall appears in the lens, then a koala in a tree.
SPEAKER: The Protected Matters Search Tool, or PMST, is a free, interactive online website application that can help you identify potential protected matters on or near your project’s site.
DESCRIPTION: Text reads: PMST. Six round icons depict a swan, the Sydney Opera House building, a bird in a wetland environment, a clown fish, Uluru rock formation and a map.
SPEAKER: The PMST is supported by scientific data including species location maps, locations of our unique Ramsar wetlands, world heritage areas, and national heritage places.
DESCRIPTION: Four scenes appear: a falling stream landing in a clear blue waterhole surrounded by lush green trees, a colourful bird at the end of a barren tree branch, a koala clinging to the trunk of a tree, and lily pads covering part of a large body of water. Two hands pore over a coloured chart in the centre of the screen. Data appears around the chart: a flow chart, a segmented pie chart and an instant messaging conversation.
SPEAKER: The PMST has been developed to support and inform project planning, and help you protect Australia’s unique and valuable environment and water.
DESCRIPTION: A map on a laptop screen. A cursor marks 4 points on the map. A coloured area on the map is marked with number one. From a list of tabs on the side of the screen, the cursor selects an arrow and a menu pops out. As the cursor selects some checkboxes from the new menu, areas of the map turn a vibrant green. The cursor selects a green button at the bottom of the new menu and an icon depicting downloadable documents appears. The document icon jumps out from the laptop.
SPEAKER: The Protected Matters Search Tool is easy for anyone to use. You can define your areas of interest on an interactive map, select multiple layers of relevant information, and instantly download a report.
DESCRIPTION: Text reads: Protected Matters Search Tool. The map and menu return to screen. Text boxes appear around the laptop, with lines connecting them to the screen.
SPEAKER: The Protected Matters Search Tool has new and enhanced features and information. These give you greater flexibility when generating reports, to help you make better decisions about your project.
DESCRIPTION: Two icons depicting downloadable documents appear on the laptop. One document features a downward-pointing arrow and the other has 2 rows of green cells. The cursor selects a button under the document and a sample Excel spreadsheet appears.
SPEAKER: Reports can be generated in PDF and Excel formats.
DESCRIPTION: A document beside the laptop is labelled ‘Shape File’ and features a 4-sided shape. The cursor drags the document and drops it over the laptop screen. The shape, marked number one, appears on the map. The cursor then draws a new shape on the map, marked number 2, before drawing a line between the 2 shapes.
SPEAKER: You can import custom shape files from your mapping software to define your search areas, and you can generate a single report from multiple search areas and locations.
DESCRIPTION: A menu pops out beside the main menu. More checkboxes are added to an existing list. The cursor selects another arrow from the main menu. A new menu pops out with 3 check boxes beside lines representing text. A pop-up window appears in the centre of the screen. The cursor selects a button with the text ‘Explore’ at the bottom of the pop-up window. The text in the pop-up now reads: Protected Matter Categories. The cursor hovers over lines representing text, then clicks on an arrow. The information in the window changes again. The cursor selects place marker icons, and sections of the map behind the window turn purple.
SPEAKER: Several new information layers can be selected, and the new explore tool saves you time by enabling you to see and interact directly with the information on the map.
DESCRIPTION: The cursor selects an item from the main menu and a new pop-up window opens. The cursor navigates distinct sections of the new window using arrow buttons.
SPEAKER: It makes it faster and easier to get the details you need in your area of interest. Instructions and support are available within the tool and on the Department’s website.
DESCRIPTION: A map of Australia, with text that reads: To use the Protected Matters Search Tool, visit: pmst.awe.gov.au.
SPEAKER: To find out if there are any protected matters in your project area, use the Protected Matters Search Tool, visit: pmst.awe.gov.au.
DESCRIPTION: The Commonwealth Coat of Arms appears above the text: Australian Government.
Exploring and creating reports
You can select a feature or site in the tool by drawing a line, rectangle or polygon shape on the map.
Once you've drawn the feature, choose 'Explore' to discover any nationally protected matters that could be relevant. These might include:
- nationally significant plants and animals, such as listed migratory or listed threatened species
- nationally protected habitats or places, such as threatened ecological communities
- other matters protected under the EPBC Act, such as listed marine species.
When you've finished exploring, you can create a report in either PDF or Excel format to print or use offline.
In the system, you'll also be asked to accept our terms and conditions.
Currently, you can still generate PMST reports by entering site coordinates in the older version of the PMST. The old version will be available until January 2022.
By defining geographic coordinates (latitude, longitude), you can get reports for:
- a point
- a line
- an area of interest.
Avoiding planned downtime
You won't be able to access PMST on Wednesdays between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm AEST/AEDT. This is because we'll take the tool offline for routine maintenance at that time.
Get in touch
If you need help or want to report an issue, email our Geospatial Helpdesk.