Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2007
Executive summary (continued)
Summary of main results
- The department played an important role in the Prime Minister's task group on emissions trading; the secretary of the department was a member of the group and the department is leading development of a new national greenhouse and energy reporting system, one of the key building blocks for emissions trading.
- The department continued to play a key role in international negotiations for long-term cooperative action on climate change. A senior departmental officer is co-chairing United Nations talks on global climate change action beyond 2012.
- The department was a lead player in Australia's establishment of the new Global Initiative on Forests and Climate which aims to reduce deforestation and encourage sustainable management of forests.
- Australia worked with partner countries in establishing 63 projects under the Asia—Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Bilateral climate change partnerships were also advanced with China and other partners.
- The latest annual edition of Australia's National Greenhouse Accounts showed Australia's emissions projections were tracking slightly above the 108 per cent Kyoto target. The government is considering further measures to help meet the target.
- Six large low emissions technology projects, which will leverage more than $2.5 billion worth of investment from the corporate sector, were selected to receive $410 million of government funding under the $500 million Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund.
- Community engagement continued to grow. The department has secured participation of 220 local governments covering 82 per cent of Australia's population in the Cities for Climate Protection™ Australia programme which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Land and inland waters
- The National Reserve System programme acquired 588,141 hectares, bringing the total to 7,533,288 hectares. Three more Indigenous Protected Areas were declared covering 4,501,870 hectares, and bringing the total area to over 18.5 million hectares.
- An independent review of the Indigenous Protected Areas Programme hailed it a success for bringing significant bioregions into the National Reserve System and providing significant social benefits to Indigenous Australians.
- The Australian Government approved 10 conservation covenanting programmes for the purposes of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and entered into 322 perpetual covenants with landholders protecting 92,707 hectares of private land.
- Revolving funds established with Natural Heritage Trust funding acquired 17 properties with high conservation value. The properties are in four states and cover 98,408 hectares.
- Draft legislation was developed to give effect to key features of the National Plan for Water Security.
- Community Water Grants funded 1,759 water saving, recycling and treatment projects. These projects will save around 10,369 megalitres of water each year and treat water from a catchment area of 1.5 million hectares.
- 4,161 products were registered under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme, bringing the number of registered products to 7,759 since the scheme began in July 2005. The scheme enables consumers to choose the most water efficient appliances and reduces water wastage.
- The Tasmanian Mole Creek Programme protected 66 hectares of forest and limestone karst on private land. The Tasmanian Forest Tourism initiative invested $3 million to improve forest-based tourism including in the Tarkine region. The Tasmanian Forest Conservation Fund commenced its first tender round and attracted 236 landowner expressions of interest.
Coasts and oceans
- The South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network was proclaimed on 28 June 2007. The network covers an area of over 226,000 square kilometres of marine environment off the coast of Tasmania, Victoria, eastern South Australia and far south New South Wales, and makes a major contribution to the protection of the marine environment in Australian waters.
- The Cod Grounds Commonwealth Marine Reserve was declared on 28 May 2007 to protect the critically endangered grey nurse shark. The reserve covers an area of 300 hectares located off the coast of northern New South Wales near Laurieton.
- Water quality improvement plans were completed for the Mossman and Daintree catchments in the Douglas Shire, Queensland, and the Derwent Estuary, Tasmania. The plans will improve water quality and protect it from land-based pollution.
- Since 2000 the department has assessed the environmental performance of 122 Commonwealth- and state-managed fisheries under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, resulting in the fishing industry taking a range of measures to improve their environmental sustainability.
- As of 30 June 2007, 1,700 grants totalling $134.63 million had been approved under the various elements of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park structural adjustment package. These include 122 grants for fishing licence buy-outs and 810 grants to help affected businesses to restructure.
- On 28 June 2007 the Sydney Opera House was officially inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Opera House has captured the imagination of people all over the world and is an instantly recognisable icon of Sydney and Australia.
- On 3 July 2007 the Dampier Archipelago, including the Burrup Peninsula, in Western Australia, was included in the National Heritage List. Conservation agreements were negotiated with two companies to protect and conserve the rock engravings and stone arrangements in or adjacent to their operations in the archipelago.
- 28 places were added to the National Heritage List bringing the number of places in the list to 59 at 30 June 2007, including five national parks and 15 World Heritage listed places.
- One place (the Tasmanian Seamounts) was added to the Commonwealth Heritage List which contained 340 places at 30 June 2007.
- Since July 2000 more than 1,586 matters of national environmental significance have been protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 through the referral, assessment and approval process, with 276 of these matters protected in 2006—07.
- Over the past decade the levels of major air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, lead, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, in Australian cities have declined as a result of collaborative efforts between governments and industry to tackle air pollution at its source.
- Australia exceeded its obligations to phase out the use of ozone depleting substances, with total imports of only 163 tonnes of these substances, a decrease of over 80 per cent since 1999, when imports peaked at over 800 tonnes.
- Important advances were made in improving the safe management of chemicals, including a new national implementation plan to manage the world's most dangerous persistent organic pollutants, a new voluntary international agreement to ensure the safe management of chemicals worldwide by 2020, new national principles for better management of chemicals in the environment and an action plan for implementing the national principles.
- Research, monitoring and supervision indicate that the environment of the Alligator Rivers Region remains protected from the impacts of uranium mining.
- The number of fuel quality samples tested for compliance with the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 more than doubled compared to 2005—06.
- Since it began in 2001, the Product Stewardship for Oil Programme has funded the installation of more than 950 waste oil collection units, with more than 40 extra units funded in 2006—07.
- The establishment of an intercontinental air link between Australia and Antarctica is progressing well, with flights scheduled to commence in the 2007—08 summer. A five-year lease for an Airbus A319 aircraft was signed and the long range aircraft arrived in Australia on 20 February 2007. The blue-ice runway foundation has been graded. Demonstration flights have been conducted to test processes and procedures and confirm the suitability of the runway's navigation aids and support systems.
- The Australian Antarctic Division is playing a key role in International Polar Year activities. The International Polar Year will be held over 24 months from March 2007 to March 2009. Australia will lead eight scientific projects, co-lead three, and participate in 46 other international projects.
- The Australian Centre for Applied Marine Mammal Science was established in 2006 and is the first major national research centre focused on understanding, protecting and conserving whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs in the Australian region. The centre is based in the Australian Antarctic Division and has an extensive network of science partners throughout Australia.
- The Antarctic science programme supported 118 projects, which led to 393 publications including 154 peer-reviewed papers. A recent review of publications output from the world's Antarctic programmes shows that Australia's output ranks third, after the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Contracts worth $47.3 million were signed with seven multi-institutional environmental research hubs or networks to conduct research and foster professional partnerships between Australian researchers, end users and policy makers. Research areas include environmental economics, taxonomy, marine biodiversity, and land and water management.
- The third independent State of the Environment report was tabled in parliament in December 2006.
Managing the department
- The department was given new responsibilities for the Australian Government's water reform agenda following the Prime Minister's announcement of a National Plan for Water Security. The department's name was changed to reflect the new responsibilities.
- The department reviewed its outcomes and outputs structure as set out in the portfolio budget statements, and increased the number of outcomes from two to three, and the number of outputs from seven to nine, to reflect its expanded responsibilities for the Australian Government's water reform agenda.
- A new comprehensive three-year collective agreement was negotiated, and new comprehensive Australian Workplace Agreements were developed for executive level staff. Both came into effect in August 2006. New two-year Australian Workplace Agreements for senior executive service employees came into effect in July 2007.
- The department conducted a broad-based staff survey in late 2006, which recorded an improvement in employee satisfaction since the last survey in 2004.
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