Department of the Environment

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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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

Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2002-03

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2003
ISSN 1441 9335

Review of performance - Outcome one: Environment (continued)

Biodiversity (continued)

International Agreements, National Strategies and Forums

(Departmental output 1.2)


To implement international agreements and national strategies on biodiversity through domestic programs and ensure that Australia's strategic objectives on biodiversity are achieved at international forums.

National Vegetation Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation

The Department made significant progress towards the national goal of reversing the decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation outlined in the National Vegetation Framework.

Through the Framework for the Extension of the Natural Heritage Trust all Australian governments have agreed to implement measures to prevent clearing of endangered and vulnerable vegetation communities and critical habitat for threatened species, and to limit broadscale clearing to those instances where regional biodiversity objectives are not compromised.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

As a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Australia is required to implement controls on the import and export of an agreed list of species that are endangered, or at risk of becoming endangered, due to trade in them or their products. Australia's obligations under the convention have been incorporated into the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The Department works with the Australian Customs Service, the Australian Federal Police and state wildlife agencies to enforce the convention.

At the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention, held in Santiago de Chile in November 2002, Australia voted to defeat proposals to downlist minke and Bryde's whale populations from Appendix I to II. Trade in these species therefore remains subject to particularly strict regulation in order not to further endanger their survival.

Australia, in cooperation with other parties, obtained good conservation outcomes for a range of species including whales, Patagonian toothfish, sharks and turtles.

The conference recognised the need for increased capacity building work within the Oceania region. In particular, the conference agreed to seek funding for a capacity building program to assist the developing island states of Fiji, Vanuatu and also Papua New Guinea. Australia, as the regional representative on the convention's standing committee, continues to take a lead role in capacity building within the region.

National Weeds Strategy

The Department and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry funded the first year of a national weeds management facilitator position in 2002-03. While excellent on-ground work in relation to weed management is already under way, this position will address the ongoing need for a more strategic approach at national, regional and local levels.

Addressing Weeds of National Significance is a goal under the National Weeds Strategy, and the Department funded 14 projects under the Natural Heritage Trust to address the impact of these weeds. Projects researched effective biological control agents to attack bridal creeper, cabomba, mimosa and bitou bush/boneseed. Other projects addressed management issues for the species hymenachne, salvinia, alligator weed, Athel pine and pond apple.

Convention on Biological Diversity

Following Australia's support for the successful adoption by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002 of the Bonn Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits Arising out of their Utilisation (the Bonn Guidelines) Australia continued to support the guidelines' adoption. The Department shared information about Australia's practical approach to implementation of the guidelines with countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia's position on measures to support countries' exercise of national sovereignty over the protection and sustainable use of their genetic resources was advanced at the meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Multi Year Plan of Work in early 2003. This was the first opportunity for member countries to consider this aspect of the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity

At the meeting of the Natural Resources Management Ministerial Council on 11 October 2002 all nine Australian governments agreed to a nationally consistent approach to the management of Australia's genetic and biochemical resources found in its native plants and animals. This is the Nationally Consistent Approach For Access to and the Utilisation of Australia's Native Genetic and Biochemical Resources.

The approach addresses Objectives 2.8 and 1.8.2 of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity. Its adoption implements world's best practice established by the Convention on Biological Diversity in the form of the Bonn Guidelines. The goal of the approach is to position Australia to obtain the maximum economic, social and environmental benefits from the ecologically sustainable use of its genetic and biochemical resources whilst protecting its biodiversity and natural capital.

The Department progressed amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations to provide for the management of genetic and biochemical resources found in Australia's native biodiversity within Commonwealth areas. The amendments are consistent with the nationally consistent approach and will implement obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and are consistent with the convention's Bonn Guidelines. Environment protection and sustainable use are key features of the proposed regulations.