Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005
ISSN 1441 9335
Managing the department
This section is presented in accordance with the requirements of section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
As the lead Australian Government agency for implementing the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (see www.deh.gov.au/esd/national/nsesd), the department is a strong advocate of environmental accountability and reporting, including through:
- triple bottom line reporting in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (see www.globalreporting.org)
- the reporting requirements for Australian Government agencies set out in section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development defines the goal of ecologically sustainable development as:
development that improves the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends.
Almost all of the activities reported in this annual report contribute either directly or indirectly to this goal.
- Integration principle
- Precautionary, intergenerational and biodiversity principles
- Valuation principle
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 lists the principles of ecologically sustainable development (see table below). Almost all of the department’s activities during 2004-05 either:
- directly applied one or more of the principles of ecologically sustainable development to solving environmental problems
- supported activities that applied the principles to solving environmental problems.
As required under subsection 516A(6a) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the following section explains how the department’s activities during 2004-05 accorded with the principles of ecologically sustainable development. More details of these activities are contained in other chapters of this annual report.
|Integration principle||Decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations|
|Precautionary principle||If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation|
|Intergenerational principle||The present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations|
|Biodiversity principle||The conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making|
|Valuation principle||Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted|
|* These principles are set out in sections 3A and (in the case of the precautionary principle) 391 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The department administers the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997, both of which explicitly recognise these principles.|
The department made extensive use of the integration principle to promote better management of Australia’s natural resources:
Integrated natural resource management: The department continued to develop and invest in natural resource management plans and other strategies for integrating management based on the need to maintain ecosystems, including the regional component of the Natural Heritage Trust and regional marine plans. These plans integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations.
Integrated reporting: The department continued to promote triple bottom line accountability, including by publishing its own triple bottom line report.
The precautionary, intergenerational and biodiversity principles were central to the department’s environmental and natural heritage protection activities during the year, all of which aim to conserve biodiversity and ecological integrity, and to maintain the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for the benefit of future generations:
Community and international engagement: The department continued to advocate the Australian Government’s environmental policies in Australia and abroad, including through international engagement on climate change, biodiversity conservation, threatened species protection, migratory wildlife protection, wetlands conservation, world heritage conservation, park management and the international trade in environmentally hazardous chemicals and wastes.
Community capacity building: The department continued to administer the Australian Government’s major natural resource management programmes that have an environmental focus, including the Natural Heritage Trust. These programmes increase the capacity of Australians to conserve ecosystems.
National response to climate change: The department continued to develop Australia’s national response to the threat of climate change in the absence of full scientific certainty. Addressing climate change will help to conserve ecosystems.
Biodiversity conservation laws: The department continued to apply laws for the conservation of biodiversity, notably the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, to protect wildlife and places with environmental values, including heritage-listed places, often in the absence of full scientific certainty.
Environmental impact assessments: The department continued to apply laws to prevent serious environmental damage, notably the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, to assess the possible environmental impacts of proposed actions, often in the absence of full scientific certainty.
Pollution prevention: The department continued to apply laws and other national measures to prevent environmentally harmful substances from entering the environment, notably the various national environment protection measures, the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981, the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989, and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.
Whole-of-government policy development: The department continued to advocate environmental protection in the development of other Australian Government policies, including major energy and water reforms.
The department applied the valuation principle to promote conservation and better management of industrial wastes:
Conservation incentives: The department continued to promote incentives for protecting wildlife and habitats on private land through covenants. The department also supported fishing industry adjustment processes that will reduce pressures on the marine environment.
Waste reduction incentives: The department continued to promote incentives for more efficient uses of resources, including markets for waste products such as used lubricating oils.
As required under subsection 516A(6b) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the department’s outcomes contribute to ecologically sustainable development as follows:
Outcome 1: Protecting the environment helps to maintain the ecological processes on which life depends.
Outcome 2: Australia’s Antarctic interests include a strong focus on protecting the Antarctic environment, as well as deriving reasonable economic benefits from Antarctic resources.
- John Gorton Building
- Australian Antarctic Division
- Parks Australia Division
- Supervising Scientist Division
As required under subsections 516A(6c, d and e) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the following section summarises the environmental effects of the department’s operations during the year. It covers how the department is minimising the environmental impacts of its operations, and is increasing the effectiveness of the measures it takes to minimise its environmental impacts.
More detailed explanations of the information summarised below will be presented in the department’s 2004-05 triple bottom line report. During the year the department extended its triple bottom line reporting to include Antarctic, parks and Supervising Scientist operations, with the results summarised below.
Other information about the environmental effects of the department’s work to implement the Australian Government’s policies and programmes appears under the ‘Environment’ and ‘ Antarctica’ chapters of this report.
- The department’s environmental management system for the building was re-certified to ISO14001.
- Upgraded electricity metering was installed.
- Total tenant light and power consumption was up by 16.5 per cent due to increased staff numbers.
- Electricity consumption per person per year fell by 5 per cent to 5 233 megajoules. The department is on target to achieve 4 500 megajoules per person per year by 2005–06.
- The department continued purchasing 100 per cent accredited green power for the John Gorton Building.
- A water audit identified the John Gorton Building potable mains water use was
0.79 kilolitres per metre squared per year,
which is 30 per cent better than the Australian office building average benchmark of 1.125 kilolitres per metre squared per year.
- A waste audit identified opportunities to reduce waste to landfill by more than 70 per cent through full use of current recycling facilities.
- Paper consumption increased by two sheets per person per day from 2003-04 to 2004-05.
- Greenhouse gas emissions were 376 kilograms per person per year, down from 409 kilograms per person in 2003-04.
- The department produced estimates of indirect greenhouse emissions from staff air travel and taxi use for the first time (approximately 14 times the total of the department’s direct emissions). The methodology for aviation emissions was developed as part of Greenhouse Challenge Plus.
EcoNet officers auditing paper usage in the John Gorton Building. Employees can volunteer to join the department’s EcoNet, a network that promotes the department’s environmental management systems in the workplace.
Photo: E Macdonald
- The division maintained certification of its ISO14001 environmental management system.
- Significant environmental risks were reviewed and legal compliance was audited.
- The Kingston offices consumed 471 megajoules of electricity per metre squared per year (751 megajoules at the stations). Mawson station sourced approximately 30 per cent of its electricity from wind power.
- The offices at Kingston, Tasmania, consumed 6 216 kilolitres of water, and the Antarctic stations consumed 5 308 kilolitres of water. Water meters were installed at each station and at Kingston.
- The division reused or recycled 26 per cent of all waste.
- Staff at headquarters used 30 sheets of paper per person per day.
- The department’s Antarctic operations produced 1 483 766 tonnes of greenhouse gases (excluding waste).
- Plans of management for individual protected areas include environmental management goals.
- The Australian National Botanic Gardens introduced a building management system and Kakadu National Park installed electricity metering.
- Several parks have water metering: Booderee National Park consumed
11 020 kilolitres of water, Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park consumed
71 000 kilolitres, and the Australian National Botanic Gardens consumed
146 508 kilolitres.
- At Booderee National Park, where statistics are available, 1 160 cubic metres of waste was recycled.
- Available data suggests staff used 13 sheets of paper per person per day.
- Total greenhouse gas emissions from transport energy use were 1 495 tonnes.
- The department managed a total of 2 131 345 hectares of protected areas and continued to prepare species inventories for the six terrestrial parks.
- The department developed a draft environmental management system for the division’s Darwin offices.
- Electricity usage was reduced by 4.59 per cent from 2003-04 through staff awareness raising, equipment shut down and lighting switch-off initiatives.
- Transport use of fossil fuels was reduced by 20 per cent and distance travelled by vehicles was reduced by 25 per cent, through video conferencing and a reduction in fleet size.
- The Darwin offices consumed 724 kilolitres of water or 65.5 litres per person per day, including for use in aquaculture operations.
- A worm farm was established at the Darwin offices to recycle organic waste and provide live feed for breeding populations of the purple spotted gudgeon.
- The Darwin offices consumed 27.6 sheets of paper per person per day.
- Greenhouse gas emissions totalled 1 202.5 tonnes.
- The division continued a wide range of biodiversity fieldwork activities, including testing mining impacts on billabong species.