Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

About us header images - leftAbout us header images - centreAbout us header images - right

Publications archive - Annual reports

Disclaimer

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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 Annual Report 2001-02

Environment Australia, 2002
ISSN 1441-9335

Review of Performance - Outcome One: Environment (continued)
Parks and Reserves

saltspoon daisies

Effectively manage Commonwealth national parks and reserves

Environment Australia is working to protect and conserve ecologically significant areas, including Indigenous Protected Areas.

In 2001-02 Environment Australia worked to protect and conserve such areas through the following programmes:

Further information on the management of national parks and reserves is contained in the 2001-02 Annual Report of the Director of National Parks.

Programmes that Manage Commonwealth National Parks and Reserves

National Reserve System Programme (Administered item)

Objective

To develop a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system to protect and conserve biodiversity.

Result

The National Reserve System Programme aims to assist with the establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of protected areas to conserve Australia's biodiversity. 'Comprehensive' refers to the inclusion within the protected areas system of the full range of regional ecosystems represented at the bioregional scale. 'Adequate' refers to the National Reserve System providing reservation of each ecosystem to the level necessary to provide ecological viability and integrity. 'Representative' means the system must be comprehensive enough to cover the variability that occurs within ecosystems. Applications for financial assistance to purchase, covenant or manage areas for inclusion in the National Reserve System are assessed against the Australian Guidelines for Establishing the National Reserve System, developed by the then Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council.

The programme uses the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA), the broad-level planning tool under which Australian landmass is broken up into 85 biogeographic regions derived from information on climate, lithology, geology, landform, vegetation, flora and fauna, and land use. Environment Australia and the states and territories have recently agreed to a sub-regionalisation of IBRA (384 IBRA sub-regions) which will provide additional information on the representativeness of the National Reserve System. In July 2001 an interim review of the priority of the bioregions was undertaken with improved information on reservation status, extent of native vegetation, land use and tenure, and threatening processes. Environment Australia will update the bioregions' priorities with information from the National Land and Water Resources Biodiversity Assessment report when the report is available in 2002-03.

Area of Reserves Approved for Addition to the National Reserve System

The area approved in 2001-02 for addition to the National Reserve System totalled 1 159 678 hectares and covered 83 properties.

At 30 June 2002, total hectares approved for addition to the National Reserve System since the commencement of the programme were 5.969 million hectares purchased and 3.598 million hectares declared as Indigenous Protected Areas for a total of 9.567 million hectares. This represents 1.24 per cent of mainland Australia's landmass.

In 2001-02 properties were approved for addition to the National Reserve System in the following IBRA bioregions:

Through the Indigenous Protected Areas component of the programme, 22 areas received funding. Five new projects were approved for funding, including two aiming to develop formal cooperative management agreements with state or territory conservation agencies.

The projects were as follows:

The programme had considerable success in 2001-02 in purchasing key properties for addition to the National Reserve System. Significant purchases included:

Of the purchases approved, six proponents were organisations that are non-government conservation agencies. They included non-government environment organisations and local government. Expenditure on properties including the Indigenous Protected Areas component totalled $23.6 million in 2001-02.

At Least One Indigenous Protected Area in Each State and the Northern Territory

The objective of establishing at least one Indigenous Protected Area in each state and the Northern Territory has been met.

Enhancing the National Reserve System (Departmental output 1.9)

Research

Final reports were received for the following research projects: Botanical Survey of the Hamersley Range Uplands, Western Australia; Biological Survey of the South-Western Little Sandy Desert, Western Australia; Biological Survey of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands, South Australia; and Vegetation of Western Australia: Identification of Poorly Conserved and Potentially Threatened Vegetation Types in Agricultural Regions of South-Western Western Australia. Biological surveys provide information on the biodiversity values of a region, including the need for protected areas, and are an essential component of developing a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system.

Publications during the year included Biodiversity of the Southern Carnarvon Basin, and the Landscape Health in Australia report. The report, detailed environmental threats including the threat that clearing native vegetation poses for threatened fauna; salinity; feral animals; and weed infestation. It was a joint project of the National Land and Water Resources Audit, the National Reserve System Programme and the national State of the Environment reporting programme.

Best Practice Management

Every reserve added to the National Reserve System is required to be classified and managed under one of the IUCN World Conservation Union reserve categories. All reserves also require interim management statements and final management plans in accordance with Environment Australia's contractual conditions and state or territory statutory requirements.

The number of reserves with interim or final management plans is 107. A considerable period of time can elapse in developing management plans under state and territory conservation legislation. Some states have experienced resource constraints and one state management plan process is on hold until native title issues are resolved. Environment Australia has provided funds for reserves managed by non-government organisations and for Indigenous Protected Areas to develop management plans but does not provide funding to states and territories for management planning.

Joint/Cooperative Management Arrangements

Of the five new projects approved for funding in 2001-02 two will support the negotiation of formal cooperative management agreements with state or territory conservation agencies.

Poorly Represented Ecosystems

All properties approved for inclusion in the National Reserve System contain ecosystems that are poorly represented or not represented at all in the National Reserve System. Many properties have rare or threatened species, communities and ecosystems listed under state or Commonwealth endangered species legislation. The programme also favours species with specialised habitat requirements, wide ranging or migratory species, and species vulnerable to threatening processes which may depend on reservation for their survival.

The number of poorly represented ecosystems included in approved properties under the National Reserve System varies based on the size of property purchased and the distribution of the species or ecosystem. Properties approved in 2001-02 included 312 ecosystems, 80 species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, three listed threatened ecological communities, and four Ramsar-listed sites.

Of the 85 IBRA bioregions, 33 have less than 5 per cent of their area represented in protected areas and 18 have less than 2 per cent.

Launches

The Minister for Environment and Heritage and the Parliamentary Secretary launched 14 properties in 2001-02 including two Indigenous Protected Areas, Wattleridge in NSW and Paraku in the Kimberley region.

The non Indigenous Protected Areas properties launched were Wyndgate (SA Murray Mouth), Woodstock Lagoon Reserve (Tasmania, near Launceston), Scotia Sanctuary (western NSW), Bukkulla Reserve (near Rockhampton Qld), Burrah Burrah, Bendoc, Gillingall, Parrrie Yalloak, Balmattum, Terrick Terrick East (grasslands properties in the Victorian Volcanic Plains, Riverina and South East Highland regions of Victoria), Newhaven Reserve (north - west of Alice Springs NT), Bunkers Conservation Reserve (Flinders Ranges SA), and Glasson's Grassland (Echuca Vic).