Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
ISSN 1441 9335
Review of performance: Outcome 1 - Environment (continued)
Establishing and managing protected areas
The Department supports the development of networks of protected areas (including national parks) to conserve biodiversity, protect ecosystem services and provide nature-based recreation and tourism opportunities.
In 2003-04, the Department worked to protect ecologically significant areas by:
- supporting the Director of National Parks in establishing and managing protected areas under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
- coordinating the National Reserve System; and
- supporting the establishment of Indigenous Protected Areas.
The Director of National Parks publishes a separate annual report containing detailed information about the management of protected areas, available at www.deh.gov.au/about/annual-report.
The Parks Australia Division ('Parks Australia') contributed to this output.
- Establishing and managing protected areas
- National Reserve System
- Indigenous Protected Areas
To develop a comprehensive, representative and well-managed national system of protected areas.
Establishing and managing protected areas
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the Director of National Parks is responsible for Australian Government protected areas called 'Commonwealth reserves' and 'conservation zones'. The Department receives an appropriation for managing these areas and uses it to purchase management services from the Director.
The Director's annual report contains detailed information about the management of these protected areas during 2003-04 (see www.deh.gov.au/about/annual-report). In addition, summary information about marine protected areas is reported in the part of this annual report dealing with coasts and oceans.
National Reserve System
The National Reserve System represents the collective efforts of the states, territories, the Australian Government, non-government organisations and Indigenous landholders to achieve an Australian system of terrestrial protected areas to conserve our native biodiversity. It aims to include comprehensive, adequate and representative samples of all Australia's regional ecosystems.
During 2003-04, the Department led a national task force to develop a draft National Reserve System Directions Statement for the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council. The statement will assist agencies in the development, management and understanding of the National Reserve System for the next ten years. The draft statement was released for public comment in February 2004.
The Department also provided spatial data for marine and terrestrial areas in Australia for the United Nations' 2004 version of the World Database on Protected Areas.
The Department continued to administer the Natural Heritage Trust's National Reserve System Programme, which funds the acquisition and covenanting of properties to add to the National Reserve System. The area acquired in 2003-04 (not including Indigenous Protected Areas, which are reported separately below) was 291 791 hectares and covered 20 properties (see Figure 12). Significant purchases included:
- Yanda, New South Wales, covering 28 224 hectares in the Cobar Peneplain and Darling Riverine Plains. Yanda encompasses seven broad vegetation types including River Red Gum riverine forest, Black Box-Coolabah open-woodland, and grassland. All of these are significantly under-represented at the bioregional and sub-regional levels. Yanda's acquisition will help protect seven state-listed flora species, 20 state-listed fauna species and five species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
- Glenalbyn, New South Wales, covering 14 187 hectares in the Mulga Lands bioregion. Glenalbyn contains six broad vegetation types that have low reservation and are under threat. It also contains significant stands of Brigalow, Acacia harpophylla, which is an outlying population of the main Brigalow distribution within New South Wales. Brigalow is listed nationally as an 'endangered ecological community' under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
- Northern Plains Grassland near Kotta, Victoria, covering 224 hectares in the Riverina bioregion. The Kotta land incorporates mostly a northern plains grassland community, a once widespread ecosystem of the Victorian Riverina. It was identified as one of the highest quality areas outside the reserve system and provides habitat for two nationally and state-threatened species.
- Mutton Hole Wetland, Queensland, covering 9000 hectares in the Gulf Plains bioregion. This wetland contains Karumba plains wetland vegetation communities, all of which are unrepresented in the current reserve system. The wetlands of the Gulf Plains are of state and territory, national and international significance for breeding, feeding, moulting and drought refuge for waterbirds that include Whistling Ducks, Sarus Cranes, Brolgas and waders.
- Toulby station, Queensland, covering a total of 18 600 hectares in the Mulga Lands. The station abuts Culgoa Floodplain National Park and will increase its size to 61 900 hectares. It contains Brigalow, major samples of 14 regional ecosystems, including two 'endangered', six 'of concern' and two unreserved vegetation communities.
- Mooloolah Floodplain and Blackall Range are two properties in the South-east Queensland bioregion purchased by the Caloundra City Council as part of the Council's progressive establishment of the Blackall Range Conservation Corridor. The first block is part of a series of remnants in the highly fragmented, urbanised coastal area covering 46 hectares. The second mountainous block of 25 hectares is at the other end of the catchment. It contains rainforest communities on sedimentary rock, one 'endangered' and one 'of concern'.
- Ethabuka Station, covering 214 000 hectares in the Channel Country bioregion. The property adjoins the Simpson Desert National Park in Queensland (1 012 000 hectares), which then adjoins the Simpson Desert Conservation Park in South Australia (688 142 hectares), creating a continuous protected area of 1 914 142 hectares. It contains major samples of two vegetation communities and 16 others, including two mound springs, listed as 'endangered' under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It has a highly diverse native small mammal community, as well as diverse reptile fauna and bird life associated with wetlands.
All new 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, or species that depend on reserves for their survival.
Indigenous Protected Areas
Parks Australia works in partnership with Indigenous Australians to establish Indigenous Protected Areas, which are non-statutory protected areas that form part of the National Reserve System. Under the National Reserve System Programme, the Department administers Natural Heritage Trust funding to support Indigenous organisations in establishing and managing Indigenous Protected Areas. In 2003-04, two new Indigenous Protected Areas covering 5106 hectares were declared and three new projects were approved for funding (see Tables 33 and 34).
|Toogimbie||New South Wales||4858|
|Mount Serle Station||South Australia||50 500|
|Kaanju Homelands||Queensland||471 500|
(a) Areas are indicative only, with boundaries yet to be finalised.
Twenty properties covering 291 791 hectares were added to the National Reserve System. Since 1996, the Australian Government has added 20.865 million hectares to the National Reserve System. This includes 7.075 million hectares purchased or covenanted and 13.790 million hectares declared as Indigenous Protected Areas. This area represents three per cent of Australia's mainland (see Figure 13). The total area covered by terrestrial protected areas (including state and territory protected areas) in Australia is 77.462 million hectares or just over ten per cent of Australia's landmass (see www.deh.gov.au/parks/nrs/capad).
The two new Indigenous Protected Areas declared during the year took the number of Indigenous Protected Areas to 19 (see Figure 14).
Report on performance information
|'Accuracy, timeliness and comprehensiveness of advice provided to the Minister on managing protected areas.'||Timeframes were met and policy advice met the Minister's requirements|
|'Extent to which the Commonwealth's reserves are managed as required by the [Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999], relevant leases and other contractual arrangements.'||Management of all Commonwealth reserves was carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Director's legal responsibilities were met.|
|'Extent to which best practice management is demonstrated through:
||Management plans were in effect and implementation schedules were completed for 17 of the 20 parks and reserves. The performance assessment approach to annual reporting introduced last year has been continued and provides a consistent approach to planning and performance throughout the agency. Implementation and reporting systems were further enhanced. Parks Australia participated in risk management benchmarking and received a commendation in the inaugural ComCover awards.|
|'Extent to which the Director meets his obligations under park leases through:
||Please refer to the annual report of the Director of National Parks at www.deh.gov.au/about/annual-report for details.|
(a) Please refer to the annual report of the Director of National Parks at www.deh.gov.au/about/annual-report for a complete report of performance against the Director's seven key result areas for protected area management.
|'Accuracy, timeliness and comprehensiveness of advice provided to the Minister on enhancing the national reserve system.'||Timeframes were met and policy advice met the Minister's requirements|
|'The comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness of the National Reserve System is enhanced.'||Enhancement is through acquisitions and covenanting properties in priority bioregions or in priority ecosystems for other bioregions. Properties acquired or covenanted were located in five very high priority bioregions, six high priority bioregions, six medium priority bioregions and four low priority bioregions.|
|'Extent to which new reserves protect ecosystems which have been poorly represented in the national system:
||The Department added almost 300 000 hectares to the National Reserve System. Properties acquired (using Natural Heritage Trust funding) contained: 89 ecosystems, including 72 ecosystems unrepresented or inadequately represented in the current reserve system; 54 species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; and 17 ecosystems listed either under state and territory or Australian Government legislation.|
|'Extent to which best practice management is demonstrated through:
||As at 30 June 2004, there were 135 reserves with plans and interim management plans and no joint management arrangements.|
|Appropriation||Estimated price||Revised price||Actual expenses|
|Parks and reserves- Output 1.9 (departmental)||$34.894 million||$39.151 million||$40.336 million|