Publications archive

Department of the Environment and Heritage annual report 2004-05

Volume one
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005
ISSN 1441 9335

Managing the department

Environmental impacts

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:

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.

How the department applies the principles

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:

or

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.

Principles of ecologically sustainable development
Short name Principle*
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.

Integration principle

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.

Precautionary, intergenerational and biodiversity principles

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.

Valuation principle

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.

Contribution of outcomes

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.

Environmental effects of activities

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.

John Gorton Building

EcoNet officers

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

Australian Antarctic Division

Parks Australia Division

Supervising Scientist Division