Publications archive - Annual reports
Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.
Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.
Environment Australia, 2001
Conserve biological diversity
Australia is home to 10 per cent of the world's known species of flora and fauna, many of which are found nowhere else.
One of the key objectives of the Government's Natural Heritage Trust has been to implement a comprehensive approach to protect Australia's biological diversity. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act provides an integrated framework to conserve biodiversity. It also protects threatened and migratory species in Commonwealth areas along with species and communities in Ramsar wetlands, World Heritage properties and the Commonwealth's marine area.
Environment Australia's efforts to protect biological diversity have been strategically focused on five priority areas: reversing the decline in quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation; improving biological diversity conservation in protected areas; promoting recovery of nationally listed threatened species; combating invasive non-native species; and advancing the identification and classification of plants and animals.
Biodiversity is conserved through these Environment Australia programmes:
To reverse the long-term decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation cover by July 2001. Methods used to achieve this objective include increasing the use of vegetation native to the local area in revegetation projects; restoring landscape productivity; promoting better management of remnant vegetation; increasing use of conservation and management agreements; and increasing community capacity to manage native vegetation through easy access to information, education and training. The intention is to reach the point where there is no net loss in the quality and extent of native vegetation, through improved remnant vegetation management, decreased vegetation clearance and increased vegetation re-establishment.
Bushcare is the major Natural Heritage Trust programme to conserve native vegetation. Since 1997, over $228 million has been approved under Bushcare to support more than 2180 projects.
Of the total funds expended in 2000-01, $67 million (71 per cent) was allocated for some 900 community grants through the Natural Heritage Trust One-Stop-Shop and the Cape York programme. A further $11 million (12 per cent) was allocated for Trust-related activities, such as the Indigenous Land Management Facilitator Network, local government facilitators, Tasmanian Strategic Package and Regional Forest Agreement, and overarching Trust expenses.
A total of $11.9 million (13 per cent) was allocated to other Bushcare activities, such as the Bushcare Support Services contract, national projects, monitoring and evaluation, communications, a revolving fund to support purchase and covenanting of high-conservation-value private lands, partnerships with the nursery industry to promote use of locally indigenous plants, and consultancies to address vegetation management issues.
Some $36.4 million of funds allocated to community grants were for practical works to re-establish native vegetation to provide habitat for wildlife, rehabilitate degraded lands and protect remnant native vegetation through fencing or long-term management agreements. The remainder of funding went to projects providing information on native vegetation communities to support strategic works ($12.5 million), technical support and expertise ($7.1 million) and Trust administration ($0.7 million). The remaining funds were directed towards meeting strategic outcomes on Cape York Peninsula.
Based on information provided by project proponents in 2000-01, Bushcare supported revegetation and rehabilitation works covering approximately 200 000 hectares. In excess of 100 000 hectares was protected through management agreements or conservation covenants.
The Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have made progress towards achieving their national goal under the Natural Heritage Trust of reversing the decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation cover by June 2001. However, all States acknowledged that considerably more effort is required to meet this goal. High rates of land clearing, notably in Queensland, but also in New South Wales and Tasmania, have delayed achievement of the goal.
While the Queensland Government has primary responsibility for land management in that State, the Commonwealth recognises the important implications of the current high Queensland clearing rates, particularly for greenhouse gas emissions. The Commonwealth has consulted extensively with the Queensland Government and farmer organisations on possible assistance to Queensland in relation to land clearing controls that meet the Commonwealth objective in a manner acceptable to landholders.
Achievements through the programmes of the Natural Heritage Trust and individual State and Territory initiatives have included the following:
To protect and conserve nationally threatened species and ecological communities so that they can survive, flourish and retain their potential for evolutionary development in the wild. Measures to achieve this objective include surveys and monitoring; protective fencing; weed and pest control; habitat restoration; threat abatement and management; captive breeding and release programmes; education and the raising of public awareness.
In 2000-01 the Endangered Species Programme provided $5.27 million to support 138 projects that involved practical conservation activities for over 260 nationally listed species and ecological communities. This represents approximately 18 per cent of species and ecological communities listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Projects supported aimed to recover or stabilise these species and ecological communities in the wild. The majority of projects involved high priority actions identified in recovery plans.
Highlights in 2000-01 included the following:
The programme continued to support the Threatened Species Network and the Threatened Bird Network, community-based networks that contribute significantly to the conservation of threatened species.
To ensure effective management of the impact of feral animals on the natural environment and on primary production. Measures to achieve this objective include enhanced national coordination of action on the management of feral animals responsible for key threatening processes; improved humane control methods; enhanced information to improve management of species responsible for key threatening processes; reduction of the adverse impact of feral animals on listed endangered and vulnerable species; the production of threat abatement plans; and the development of new control methods for feral cats and foxes.
The National Feral Animal Control Programme continued to work against threats that have been identified and listed as key processes threatening native wildlife. Four vertebrate pest species were targeted - the European red fox, feral cat, rabbit and goat.
To continue reducing the adverse impact of these pest species on listed endangered and vulnerable species, a number of projects were funded, including:
Continuing projects included the development of a humane cat-specific toxin and bait delivery system for feral cat control and development of an immunocontraceptive vaccine for the control of fox populations. Both of these projects made further progress. The cat toxin project completed two bait acceptance field trials. Two thousand non-toxic baits were distributed in each trial. Each bait carries a marker which collects in the whiskers. Intensive trapping of cats and non-target species following baiting allowed collection of whiskers for analysis.
To reduce the detrimental impact of nationally significant weeds on the sustainability and productive capacity of natural ecosystems. This is achieved by identifying weeds of national significance; enhancing national coordination of action on their management; improving control methods; better managing weeds through enhanced information; and implementing a weed risk assessment process to screen new plant imports.
Work in the National Weeds Programme focused on the development of strategic plans for the list of weeds of national significance. For each of the weeds there is now a draft or final national strategic plan. Access to the plans and other information on all 20 weeds of national significance is available through the internet.
In May 2001, the Minister announced Australia's first alert list for environmental weeds. It consists of 28 non-native weed species identified as potentially damaging and likely to be a significant threat to biodiversity. The list complements the weeds of national significance.
Through the Natural Heritage Trust, Environment Australia called for applications for funding of practical actions to manage weeds of national significance and one or more weeds on the alert list. Priority will be given to projects that address matters of national environmental significance and promote the long-term protection of remnant vegetation, especially ecologically threatened communities, or that target isolated populations of the weeds to prevent further establishment and expansion of the weed.
A weed risk assessment process to screen new plant imports is now being implemented by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
Funding continued under the Natural Heritage Trust for research on the identification and introduction of biocontrol agents for mimosa. Currently 12 biological control agents have been released. These agents are collectively increasing the stress on the plant, reducing its invasiveness, size, longevity and ability to compete with native vegetation. Distribution and abundance of the five most prominent agents is monitored at over 100 sites on seven river systems.
Domestic | International | State of the environment | Corporate reform
Environment Australia provided a range of policy advice on biodiversity issues. Specific outputs included undertaking the substantive work of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council review of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity. As a follow-up to the review, Environment Australia formulated the National Objectives and Targets for Biodiversity Conservation 2001-2005, which were agreed by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council in June 2001.
The Biological Diversity Advisory Committee was constituted according to section 504 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. It provided advice to the Minister on objectives and targets for biodiversity conservation, particularly on how these could be applied to the second phase of the Natural Heritage Trust and to natural resource management initiatives under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. The committee reported to the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council on Biodiversity Conservation Research: Australia's Priorities, which was published in June 2001.
Environment Australia chaired the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council Firewood Taskforce that developed the national approach to firewood collection and use in Australia, endorsed in June 2001.
Environment Australia assisted the work of the Natural Heritage Ministerial Board by providing information and policy advice. The most significant outcome was a $1 billion extension of the Natural Heritage Trust over five years to commence in 2002-03. For the extension of the Trust, a new approach will be used. This approach uses regional implementation, accredited integrated plans and monitoring and evaluation based on a national standards and targets framework developed under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.
The Council for Sustainable Vegetation Management consists of 10 experts on vegetation issues. It provided advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage on landscape restructure and adjustment, the conservation of native vegetation on indigenous lands and institutional arrangements for improved vegetation management. The council's term expires on 31 December 2001.
Grants | Schemes
The Commonwealth continued to protect biological diversity and landscape productivity through grants provided to community groups, industry, State government agencies and research organisations under Bushcare and other Natural Heritage Trust programmes. These include projects for practical works, extension, training and research and development.
The efficient and effective management of the Trust was reinforced by Environment Australia's efforts to ensure consistency in Commonwealth-State financial agreements. This assisted States to manage Trust grants. Environment Australia also contributed to the development and trial of a regional approach to the One-Stop-Shop grant application process in the Goulburn-Broken region.
In accordance with the terms of the partnership agreements, the One-Stop-Shop application guidelines were released in December.
Environment Australia provided assessment of new and continuing grants and advice on the management and development of the Trust. The Trust programme and project database was enhanced and output data collected to better monitor and report on Trust activities and achievements. Environment Australia provided advice to the Natural Heritage Ministerial Board and implemented board decisions to manage the Trust.
Environment Australia continued to review the performance of Trust activities and assisted the Australian National Audit Office's investigation into the administration of the Trust.
Environment Australia provided a range of information to communicate and manage Trust activities. This material included the 1999-2000 Natural Heritage Trust Annual Report; provision of information for the public announcements of the One-Stop-Shop grant process across Australia; a television advertising campaign; and preparation of the Natural Heritage Journal on a quarterly basis with its distribution to 40 000 natural resource management stakeholders.
In line with the response to the Trust's mid-term review, a monitoring and evaluation unit was established. The policy aspects of the review will continue to be addressed in the development of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and as part of the development of the second phase of the Trust.
Endangered species protection
Processes were put in place to help the adoption and approval of recovery plans for nationally listed species and ecological communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. A total of 56 recovery plans covering 75 nationally listed threatened species were adopted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. A further 23 plans remain under consideration and another 11 plans are in the process of being submitted to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which has been established in accordance with the Act, for advice and recommendation.
Information on Environment Australia's website about threatened species and their management was upgraded. This new information is also available from Environment Australia's Community Information Unit.
All requests for information on threatened species were met.
Community participation continued to be promoted and encouraged through information products, networks and project guidelines.
National Threatened Species day was marked with public events on 7 September 2000. The Minister announced the Threatened Species Network community grants at a ceremony in Sydney, while, around the nation, voluntary conservation organisations held educational open days, tree plantings and practical activities.
Forums | Obligations | Representation
Australia's position on matters related to the Convention on Biological Diversity was articulated through representation at the sixth meeting of the subsidiary body on scientific, technical and technological advice to the convention and the first intergovernmental committee meeting of the Cartagena Protocol.
International trade in endangered species.
Australia was elected as regional representative for Oceania at the conference of parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora held in Kenya in April 2001.
Australia will continue to pursue issues of high priority for regional members through the convention's standing committee and recently established working groups. These issues include capacity building for current convention signatories such as Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu. A workshop for implementation of the convention in small island states has been proposed for 2001-02.
Australia maintained its role as the regional representative on the convention's plants committee. A focus has been the review of the criteria for listing species on the appendices to the convention. Australia has sought to ensure that any new criteria are applicable to all species.
In addition, Australia has become a member of the Global Tiger Forum, a multilateral organisation formed for the purpose of protecting and conserving the tiger. While most members of the forum are range state countries for the tiger, Australia is providing support for the forum and its objectives and is well placed to contribute expertise in the area of captive breeding of tigers for conservation.
The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels initiative was finalised in February 2001. Australia has led the development of this agreement since 1997 and hosted a meeting of all range states of southern hemisphere albatrosses in Hobart from 10 to 14 July 2000 to prepare the text of an agreement. The agreement aims to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for albatrosses and petrels.
At a second negotiation meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 29 January to 2 February 2001 the final text of the agreement was adopted. It is clear from the rapid consensus reached that there is a high level of international concern about the conservation status and vulnerability of these species, and commitment to help improve that status.
At a ceremony held in Parliament House on 19 June 2001, seven countries, including Australia, signed the agreement.
Databases | Websites | Education
The Australian Biological Resources Study provided new knowledge and information about species and their role in ecosystems, with the publication of 17 new products, in both electronic and hardcopy formats.
The Minister approved over $1.5 million for 59 taxonomic research projects, made up of 31 continuing and 28 new projects. The projects funded met the research priorities set by the Australian Biological Resources Study Advisory Committee in 1999.
Other grants included three postgraduate scholarships, two travel bursaries for postgraduate students, and funding the Australian Botanical Liaison Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom.
Four participatory programme contracts produced a range of interactive species identification tools. Some of these are available on the internet.
The Australian Biological Resources Study continues to provide knowledge about biodiversity to people asking questions about the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and associated programmes.
In addition, the Australian Biological Resources Study is contracted to populate sections of the Environment Australia Species Profiles and Threats database, for use as a management tool for the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Taxonomic data in a variety of media including books, newsletters, CD-ROMs, websites and posters has been published by the Australian Biological Resources Study. Hard copy publications produced during the year were:
As well as the hard copy publications, the online Checklist of Australian Lichens, first released in 1999 via the Australian Biological Resources Study website, was updated and contains information on 2877 lichen species in 378 genera.
A CD-ROM-based identification tool produced during the year was the 101 Forest Fungi of Eastern Australia published in partnership with Knowledge Books and Software Queensland. This is the first interactive identification key for macrofungi to be produced in Australia. In partnership with CSIRO Division of Entomology, the Australian Biological Resources Study made available a new Interactive Key to Nematodes of the Murray-Darling River System and Coastal Freshwaters of South-eastern Australia on the internet. The key identifies 50 nematode genera.
Platypus, a world-leading software programme used to compile, manage and automate the database entry of taxonomic information, was extensively upgraded and a new version was released in May 2001.
The Australian Biodiversity Information Facility is a web-based source of authoritative information on Australia's biodiversity. A major update to the fauna section of the facility provides information on nearly 19 000 species online. Approximately 42 000 species, or about 42 per cent of the estimated fauna known from Australia, have been added to the database and will be made available online next year.
The Census of Australian Vertebrate Species was updated and this information is available on the Australian Biodiversity Information Facility-Fauna website for birds and mammals.
Development of the new Australian Biodiversity Information Facility-Flora database is progressing well, with Proteaceae due to be online in mid-2001. An internet version of Fungi of Australia Volume 2A Catalogue and Bibliography of Australia Macrofungi 1 has been developed and was released in August 2000.
The What's its Name website is available online and is currently being populated. Associated with the website, the Australian Biological Resources Study published What's its Name: Proteaceae in hard copy. This project is jointly run by the Australian Biological Resources Study, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research.
Species Bank is an interactive, web-based resource under development. It will provide easy-to-use, authoritative, illustrated texts on a wide range of species of interest to the community, including plants, animals, fungi and algae. Community input on preferred groups, and involvement with the project, will be actively encouraged. Species Bank will present a broad cross-section of Australian biological diversity in simple terms, as a valuable information source for environmental and formal education for all Australians.
The Australian Biological Resources Study produced two posters that aim to improve the community's awareness of biodiversity. In time for the Centenary of Federation, it has published, in partnership with the Australian National Botanic Gardens, a poster depicting the floral emblems of the Australian Commonwealth, States and Territories. The poster features the original artwork of Sydney artist Marion Westmacott and is available with an information kit designed for schools.
To raise community awareness of the importance of grasses as potential weeds, a fifth poster in the Australian Biodiversity Information Facility series on Australian grasses has been released. This poster, a joint publication with the Queensland Department of Natural Resources (with funding from the Natural Heritage Trust), gives extensive guidance on identifying the grassy weeds of national significance.
The development of Species Bank, together with increasing species data available on the Australian Biodiversity Information Facility, is providing vital tools for the general community. The Australian Biological Resources Study also continues to provide products such as posters, which aim to improve knowledge on biodiversity.
Environment Australia participated in key community events including National Science Week and the Sydney Pet Expo to raise awareness of threatened species issues. Events were organised to target major media outlets. Publications, such as the Bird Action Plan, were produced.
A new partnership with Cadbury Yowie has expanded the focus of Threatened Species Day, a major annual education project. The Yowie Hands on for Habitat Awards have been developed as a lead-up event, with information packages and classroom activities delivered to every Australian primary school and a range of materials available on the internet. Thousands of award entries were received.
Providing various forms of advice to different groups is an important part of Bushcare. The table below shows the latest available figures on advice provided and the number and types of groups who received the advice.
Advice and training provided under Bushcare to the community on native vegetation management
|Technical advice||12 months to June 2000||9 Months to March 2001|
|Bushcare projects assisted (total number)||
|Time spent assisting Bushcare projects (hours)||
|Time spent providing speciality equipment services (hours)||
|Groups assisted in project maintenance (number)||
|Queries responded to (number)||
|Community groups assisted with Natural Heritage Trust applications (number)||
|Time spent assisting with Natural Heritage Trust applications (hours)||
|Projects assisted with monitoring and evaluation systems (number)||
|Training activities held (number)||
|Participants at training activities (number)||
|Visitors to best-practice demonstration sites (number)||
|Toolkits distributed (number)||
|Education and awareness|
|School-based projects (number)||
|Community-based projects (number)||
|Formal presentations (number)||
|People at presentations (number)||
|Newspaper, other articles (number)||
|Radio/television interviews (number)||
|Brochures/fact sheets developed (number)||
|Brochures/fact sheets distributed (number)||
From Greening Australia Bushcare Support contract reports.
Reforms | Standards | Regulations
On 29 June 2001, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Wildlife Protection) Bill 2001 was passed by Parliament, completing the integration of Commonwealth biodiversity legislation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This brings Commonwealth law on international trade in wildlife in line with modern standards for ecologically sustainable management. The new provisions will take effect from early 2002.
The amended wildlife provisions will provide enhanced outcomes by streamlining administration; increasing transparency and certainty for industry and the community; enhancing conservation outcomes and clarifying enforcement provisions; and ensuring efficient integration into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Environment Australia continued to provide advice on wildlife trade proposals and to fulfil Australia's obligations as the scientific authority under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Environment Australia provided advice on 29 proposals for controlled specimens; 19 artificial propagator approvals; 10 captive breeding approvals; and the quota approvals for eight management programmes.
Revised permit application forms were made available on the internet in March 2001, complying with Commonwealth Government online requirements.
Environment Australia upgraded its internet site to provide information on roles and responsibilities under both the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982. Users are led through the processes involved in nomination of species, threatening processes and ecological communities. Users can browse the trade and conservation information to download permit forms and determine their responsibilities under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Articles about the administration of the Act were placed in industry journals and magazines. A new wildlife management database is being developed.
Environment Australia organised the Wildlife Crime 2000 conference in Canberra on 29 and 30 November 2000. It brought together wildlife law enforcement officers from Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies, the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and representatives from New Zealand, Italy and the Czech Republic. Environment Australia also funded the attendance of an officer from Papua New Guinea. A target development group meeting was held in conjunction with the conference, enabling Australian agencies to share information about illegal wildlife activities and resource use for investigations.
Joint investigations were held with the Australian Customs Service (the principal agency enforcing the Wildlife Protection Act) and State, Territory and overseas enforcement agencies. There were 10 successful prosecutions under the Act. These included serious offences committed by an international smuggling syndicate apprehended in possession of 60 reptiles destined for European markets. Three people were also detected exporting 140 Australian native plants. During the year there were 5389 seizures of illegal imports.
There were 54 515 permits and authorities issued through the year. They included 311 authorities, 3088 individually issued permits and 51 116 personal use crocodile and butterfly tags. Environment Australia aims to issue commercial use permits, which comprise the majority of permits issued, within 10 working days. This standard was maintained with few exceptions.
The National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity is framed to address issues from the perspective of sustainable use. In particular, one chapter is devoted to balancing conservation with potential economic and social uses of biodiversity in areas such as agriculture, pastoralism, fisheries, forestry, water use, tourism, recreation and use of wildlife.
The Review of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, published in June 2001, identified progress in developing and implementing ecologically sustainable development policies and adopting ecologically sustainable development practices in these industries and noted where further effort is required. The review concludes that substantial progress has been made towards achieving the aim of the strategy.
The Biological Diversity Advisory Committee recognised ecologically sustainable development principles in the report, Biodiversity Conservation Research: Australia's Priorities, published in June 2001. The need to investigate and balance social, economic and environmental considerations was emphasised in five priority areas of research: the value of biodiversity conservation, incentives, management, sustainable industry practices and developing educational materials and decision support systems.
The National Objectives and Targets for Biodiversity Conservation 2001-2005 were agreed by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council in June 2001. They set a range of targets for native vegetation, freshwater, marine and estuarine ecosystems, invasive species, dryland salinity, grazing, climate change, indigenous knowledge, access to information, and institutional reform. These targets seek to address social, economic and environmental concerns.
The major recommendation of the Inquiry into Access to Biological Resources in Commonwealth Areas was that regulations under section 301 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act establish an access scheme by providing for an access permit and a benefit-sharing contract. Under the proposed scheme, the Minister would issue the permit on being satisfied, among other things, that the proposed access will, taking into account the precautionary principle, be ecologically sustainable and consistent with the conservation of Australia's biological diversity. Environmental assessment will need to be completed if required.
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Wildlife Protection) Bill 2001 the commercial export of most native plants and animals will be restricted to specimens taken under an approved management regime or derived from approved captive breeding or artificial propagation operations. Proposals to harvest wildlife are rigorously assessed to ensure commercial use of wildlife is conducted in an ecologically sustainable manner with no adverse impacts on conservation of the species or ecosystems involved.