Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program

Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program

In 2017, the Australian Government announced a new program of bioregional assessments to be conducted in three onshore areas that were underexplored but prospective for shale and tight gas. These assessments are the Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program.

The Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program assesses the potential impacts of shale and tight gas development on water and the environment. This work provides independent scientific data, advice and information to governments, industry, land users and the community.

See the video for a brief introduction to the GBA Program.

The assessments

The Australian Government selected the following regions for assessment:

  • The Cooper GBA region , which spans south-west Queensland and north-east South Australia.
  • The Isa GBA region , which covers parts of north-west Queensland, extending east from the Northern Territory border.
  • The Beetaloo GBA region , which lies south-east of Katherine in the Northern Territory.

These assessments examined the potential impacts on water, the environment, protected areas and threatened species from shale and tight gas resource development and considered appropriate mitigation and management approaches. The approach taken for this assessment was the development of a causal network. This approach allows for a transparent, consistent, and systematic evaluation of the relationship between development activities and the environmental values in each of the GBA regions.

The program outputs include geological and environmental data, tools and knowledge to assist regulators and industry with planning, assessment and reporting. It also provides regulators and industry with a common information base to help inform decision-making and enable the coordinated management of cumulative impacts.


Use the map below to find your GBA region.

Program design

The program comprised of three stages:

Stage 1: Rapid Regional Prioritisation - narrowed the focus of the assessments to select three regions for detailed study. This step was completed in 2018.

Visit the  Rapid Regional Prioritisation report  page to download the report.

Stage 2: Baseline analysis - analyses available data for the three regions and identifies gaps to guide collection of additional baseline data where needed. This step was completed in 2020.

Stage 3: Impact assessment - analyses the potential regional-scale impacts of unconventional gas resource development on water resources and Commonwealth and state or territory matters of environmental significance to enable effective monitoring, mitigation and management measures.

The Minister for the Environment concluded the assessment for the Isa GBA region on 15 May 2020. The decision not to carry out the Stage 3 assessment for the Isa GBA region was due to insufficient geoscience and environmental data and information available from the region to accurately conduct the assessment at that time.

Last updated:
14 October 2021