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

If native biological materials are to be taken from state land or waters for biodiscovery, a special permit (biodiscovery collection authority) is required. Before using the materials you will also require a benefit-sharing agreement with the Queensland Government specifying terms under which benefits from biodiscovery will be shared with the State.

Biodiscovery Act 2004 (Qld)

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 Biodiscovery plan document to be submitted to the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) detailing the scope of Biodiscovery activities to be undertaken
  • a permitting regime administered by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP)
  • a benefit-sharing agreement administered by the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI).

How do I know if Biodiscovery applies to my research?

If biological materials (or substances sourced from biological materials such as animals and plants) native to Queensland or its waters are to be researched AND outcomes from the research may be commercial in nature, the research would be considered “biodiscovery”.

The Biodiscovery Act Decision Tree can be used to quickly identify whether research activities using native biological materials falls under the Biodiscovery Act or not. Click here for more information on Biodiscovery and compliance requirements.

Need more information?

Contact the JCU Ethics team via