Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1996
ISBN 0 6422 4427 8
2 - Integrating biological diversity conservation and natural resource management
All Australians rely on industries that use biological resources to maintain and enhance their standard of living. These industries provide employment for many Australians, support secondary industries, and contribute significantly to the economy. For example, total expenditure by local and overseas tourists in 1989-90 amounted to $23.4 billion.4 In 1990-91 the forest and forest product industries contributed $9.8 billion to the Australian economy5 and, in 1992-93, production from the farm and fisheries industries was valued at $22.2 billion and $1.4 billion respectively.6 A range of other industries are directly or indirectly dependent on biological diversity.
But these resource-based industries, however, have direct and indirect costs to the environment.
Community and industry attitudes to the use of biological resources are changing from the 'maximum yield' approach to one of ecologically sustainable yield, which recognises the need for conservation of biological diversity and maintenance of ecological integrity. Integration of management regimes within and between industry sectors to meet environmental, economic and social objectives must be improved to reflect that this attitudinal change.
Develop and implement national integrated policies for the ecologically sustainable use of biological resources.
Integrated policies for ecologically sustainable use of biological resources
The development of integrated policies for major uses of biological resources is necessary to coordinate activities within and between all levels of government, to ensure that the full social and environmental consequences, and the opportunity costs, of development activities are considered, and to ensure that the public interest is properly taken into account.
Integrated policies will also provide the opportunity for all Australians to accept responsibility for the impacts on biological diversity of their activities, including resource consumption, and to participate in achieving ecological sustainability within industries and lifestyles.
Improved management of Australia's biological resources is essential for ecologically sustainable use and is being dealt with in a number of ways, including through the ecologically sustainable development process. This process has yielded information about what needs to be done to better manage Australia's biological resources. Improved management of Australia's forests, fisheries, agricultural lands and rangelands is necessary for the industries involved and at the same time will provide considerable benefits for the conservation of biological diversity. Other sectors and areas that could also benefit from improved management are urban and coastal areas, the industrial and extractive sectors and infrastructure development.
2.1.1 Develop and implement national policies
Through cooperation between the Commonwealth, State, Territory, and local governments, relevant industries and non-government organisations, develop and implement national policies based on the objectives and principles of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. This will integrate the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral activities. In developing these national policies, the need to maintain the international competitiveness of industries must be taken into account. The policies will require:
- implementation on a bioregional basis;
- improved coordination and integration mechanisms between all levels of government, industry and community groups;
- better planning to overcome incremental decision making;
- effective monitoring and development of performance indicators;
- rapid dissemination and application of new information;
- implementation measures including regulatory arrangements, legislation, standards and economic instruments;
- proper evaluation of the full environmental, social and economic benefits and costs of the protection of biological diversity;
- greater public accountability.
2.1.2 Improved assessment and approval procedures
Develop improved methods for the appraisal and measurement of public expenditure relating to the major resource-based sectors – agriculture and pastoralism, fisheries, forestry, water, and tourism and recreation. Particular attention should be paid to:
- the environmental benefits and costs of the uses of biological diversity;
- the externalities of existing use practices;
- opportunity costs;
- risk assessment of existing and proposed activities that could significantly affect the conservation and management of biological diversity.
Where necessary, modify approval procedures to ensure that they appropriately take into account the expanded knowledge base.
Achieve the conservation of biological diversity through the adoption of ecologically sustainable agricultural and pastoral management practices.
2.2.1 Improving the knowledge base
Conduct additional coordinated research into:
- achieving ecologically sustainable use of biological resources in agriculture and further developing systems approaches such as whole farm or property management planning;
- developing improved techniques to integrate farm land use with surrounding land uses, such as urban, forest, and reserve lands and waters, to promote the conservation of biological diversity;
- alternative or modified economically viable and sustainable land uses in areas where current land uses are incompatible with the conservation of biological diversity;
- the diversity of Australian soil organisms, their role in the dynamics of soils, and their relationship with plant growth;
- the impact of total grazing pressure in rangelands on biological diversity and the resilience and regenerative capacity of palatable species;
- developing and implementing tools for adaptive management of rangelands.
2.2.2 Government support and institutional arrangements
Strengthen delivery of government services connected with management of agricultural and pastoral systems by:
- encouraging continued institutional reform and incorporation of biological diversity conservation and other ecologically sustainable development objectives in corporate strategic plans;
- where necessary, developing and applying financial and other incentives for conservation and rehabilitation programs and assessing their success. In some cases consideration may need to be given to promoting alternative land uses;
- encouraging rural extension agencies to promote land use practices that conserve biological diversity;
- ensuring that State and Territory land management legislation and administrative arrangements take into account the conservation of biological diversity;
- developing and promoting programs to reduce negative impacts on biological diversity arising from the use of artesian waters.
2.2.3 Improved management
Encourage landholders, other land managers, governments and industry organisations to protect biological diversity by:
- continuing to review the impact of agricultural and pastoral management activities on biological diversity and seeking changes where appropriate;
- jointly developing and adopting practical and acceptable codes of practice that acknowledge the need for change in management techniques;
- incorporating biological diversity conservation objectives in whole farm or property management, bioregional and catchment planning, including:
- the management of pests and weeds;
- identifying and managing critical biological diversity areas, including refuge areas, riparian vegetation, nutrient patches in semi-arid regions, habitat remnants on farmlands, watercourses and stock routes;
- reducing the impacts of sedimentation and nutrient and other chemical applications on freshwater, wetland and marine biological diversity;
- incorporating the risks of climate variability in property management to enhance the long-term sustainability and productivity of the environmental resource base, as reflected in the National Drought Policy;
- monitoring rangeland condition and adjusting management practices as appropriate;
- managing irrigation practices to encourage efficient use of water and minimise waterlogging, salinisation and other adverse effects on biological diversity;
- incorporating biological diversity conservation objectives in tree planting and other activities carried out for soil conservation and productivity maintenance and restoration purposes.
Achieve the conservation of biological diversity through the adoption of ecologically sustainable fisheries management practices.
2.3.1 Improving the knowledge base
Increase data collection and coordinated research into the biological diversity and human use of the Australian Fishing Zone and estuarine and freshwater areas. Priority should be given to:
- the impact of recreational fishing on fisheries, fish and their habitats;
- the impact of commercial fishery practices on non-target and by-catch species and ecosystems, on the viability of populations, and on genetic diversity;
- the development of fishing techniques that are species specific, that have the least impact on non-target species, and that minimise waste of the resource, with particular emphasis on trawling and shellfish dredging;
- the development of rapid monitoring techniques, especially where native species are used;
- the identification of critical habitats for harvested native fishes, in particular spawning and nursery grounds;
- the development of 'state of the environment' reporting for freshwater, estuarine and marine areas;
- determination of the impact of both aquaculture species and aquaculture management practices on the environment, including aquatic wildlife.
2.3.2 Improved management
Ensure that the implementation of fisheries ecosystem management, as agreed to by the Australian and New Zealand Fisheries and Aquaculture Council and outlined in the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, is consistent with the conservation of biological diversity and gives priority to:
- reviewing the appropriateness of current management strategies, techniques, standards, jurisdictions and legislation;
- using economic instruments such as incentives for conservation activities, including rehabilitation programs;
- developing and adopting practical and acceptable codes of practice for the management and monitoring of commercial and recreational fishing, for the harvesting of invertebrates, for the rehabilitation of depleted stocks, and for key habitat and spawning areas;
- developing through the Australian and New Zealand Fisheries and Aquaculture Council, in consultation with relevant ministerial councils, the national strategy and guidelines for managing recreational fishing on an ecologically sustainable basis;
- implementing, in consultation with industry, such necessary changes to current practices as are identified in the priority research areas outlined in Action 2.3.1;
- developing through the Australian and New Zealand Fisheries and Aquaculture Council, in consultation with relevant ministerial councils, the national strategy and guidelines for managing aquaculture developments;
- developing, where necessary, rehabilitation programs for aquatic habitats of importance to biological diversity conservation.
Achieve the conservation of biological diversity through the adoption of ecologically sustainable forestry management practices.
The National Forest Policy Statement provides a framework for governments to take action to implement ecologically sustainable management of forestry in Australia. The Statement is a primary means by which the objectives of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity will be accomplished in forest habitats.
2.4.1 Improving the knowledge base
Improve the knowledge base underpinning forestry in a coordinated way by:
- undertaking regional surveys of forests for old-growth values and of forested and other lands for wilderness values;
- undertaking assessments of forests to identify their value for the conservation of biological diversity;
- developing methods for assessing the positive and negative contributions of silvicultural systems to the maintenance of biological diversity;
- ensuring improved analytical techniques and greater accessibility and compatibility between databases and techniques and between local government, regional, State, Territory and Commonwealth agencies;
- undertaking research and long-term monitoring of the impacts on biological diversity and ecological processes resulting from the commercial use of native forests and the effectiveness or otherwise of management prescriptions (relating to, for example, habitat trees and streamside reserves) in conserving biological diversity.
2.4.2 Improved management
As agreed in the National Forest Policy Statement, governments should apply to all public and private native forests in Australia the Australian Forestry Council's set of national principles for forest practices related to wood production in native forests. This set of principles includes principles of environmental care to foster the maintenance of biological diversity values.
Ensure that State and Territory land management legislation and administrative arrangements take into account the conservation of biological diversity.
Increase the resources devoted to the conservation of biological diversity in forests and give priority to:
- ensuring that State and Territory forestry management legislation and administrative arrangements take into account the conservation of biological diversity;
- better control of pests, weeds and disease in public forests;
- the management of plantations to minimise impacts on adjacent ecosystems;
- providing to private forest owners technical advice about improved ways of managing for the conservation of biological diversity and offering incentives to promote conservation activities, including rehabilitation programs;
- promoting integrated catchment management objectives among public and private forest owners through the application of codes of practice, forest management plans and, where appropriate, land clearing controls. In addition, by disseminating information through Landcare and other community groups, promote among landowners the objectives of establishing and maintaining forest cover;
- ensuring that the relevant forest management agencies develop regional plans to protect the biological diversity, wilderness and old-growth values determined in forest surveys;
- ensuring that management of public native forests outside the reserve system will complement the biological diversity objectives of conservation reserve management.
Manage water resources in accordance with biological diversity conservation objectives and to satisfy economic, social and community needs.
2.5.1 Improving the knowledge base
Improve knowledge about the biological diversity of aquatic and associated systems by:
- undertaking research into the interactions between surface hydrology and groundwater and biological diversity;
- identifying the impacts on biological diversity of accessible and widespread provision of artesian water in naturally dry areas;
- where appropriate, establishing inventories of the condition and extent of wetlands, floodplains and riparian ecosystems.
2.5.2 Legislative and policy framework
Protect aquatic ecosystems by introducing effective legislative and policy frameworks incorporating:
- State and Territory land management legislation and administrative arrangements that take into account the conservation of biological diversity;
- better integration of regional planning and management for protection of biological diversity;
- multiple use strategies for off-reserve management;
- better conservation and more efficient use of water by ensuring that water pricing reflects the full costs of water services and by providing greater flexibility in the transfer of water rights;
- rehabilitation of wetlands and rivers as links between areas of remnant vegetation;
- joint evaluation of conservation and water resource values.
2.5.3 Improved management
Ensure that the activities of water management agencies are consistent with the conservation of biological diversity and take into account:
- the need to minimise the effect that barriers to water flow have on the migration and reproduction of aquatic fauna and dependent floodplain ecosystems;
- the impacts of artificial river flows and the lowered water temperatures downstream of large storages on the breeding of aquatic species;
- the importance of natural flow regimes and habitat complexity for aquatic and riparian ecosystems and the need to minimise the impacts of habitat alteration in river improvement projects;
- the need to minimise the adverse impacts of the use of artesian water on the biological diversity of naturally dry areas, as outlined for Action 2.2.2;
- the need to improve management of water allocations to ensure the maintenance of in-stream and floodplain biological diversity.
These actions also apply to the protection of aquatic biological diversity associated with mound and thermal springs, groundwaters, artesian systems and caves.
Achieve the conservation of biological diversity through the adoption of ecologically sustainable management practices for tourism and recreation.
This objective is consistent with the National Tourism Strategy, which has as its strategic environmental goal 'to provide for sustainable tourism development by encouraging responsible planning and management practices consistent with the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage'.
2.6.1 Improving the knowledge base
Initiate long-term monitoring of the impacts of current tourism and recreation activities within and adjacent to protected areas and fragile ecosystems and review past experience.
2.6.2 Improved management
Encourage governments and participants in the tourism and recreation industry to conserve biological diversity by:
- reviewing the impact of tourism and recreation management activities on biological diversity and seeking changes where appropriate;
- developing and implementing for tourism operators using areas with significant biological diversity codes of practice that acknowledge the need for any required changes to management practices;
- offering incentives for conservation activities, including rehabilitation programs.
Where tourism is dependent on the natural environment, encourage the development of management strategies in association with broader land use plans, including provisions for:
- tourism facilities and services to be provided in accordance with the biophysical limits of an area;
- the development of criteria and conditions under which commercial activities within or adjacent to protected areas may be appropriate;
- rehabilitation of existing tourism sites where appropriate.
Achieve the conservation of biological diversity through the adoption of other ecologically sustainable wildlife management practices.
At present a number of smaller industries are based on the harvest of native species. Some of these have grown from culling programs and some (for example, tree fern harvesting) are by-products of other industries. Not all of these industries are operating with a management plan, and for some of the species harvested (for example, Lawyer Vine) there is inadequate biological knowledge of the species and of whether the current industry is ecologically sustainable.
Any harvesting of native species should take place in accordance with a management plan, incorporating provisions for continuing research, monitoring and public scrutiny.
2.7.1 Review and improve management
In accordance with the World Conservation Union's resolution on sustainable use, develop wildlife utilisation programs that create economic and other incentives for the retention, rehabilitation, maintenance and management of natural habitats.
Review the appropriateness and ecological sustainability of current management strategies involving the harvesting of native species by:
- ensuring that coordinated research into and monitoring of exploited species is undertaken to determine ecological sustainability;
- ensuring the development and regular review of management plans, for both domestic and export purposes;
- ensuring that harvesting arrangements are based on the long-term viability of the species concerned;
- ensuring thorough public consultation and government accountability in the management, planning and implementation process.
Ensure that the social and economic benefits of the use of genetic material and products derived from Australia's biological diversity accrue to Australia.
The need for control of genetic resources
Genetic resources include the genes and gene pools of native species, of introduced species, and of plant, animal and microbial varieties produced by breeding and genetic manipulation. Australia is rich in genetic resources that could be used in scientific and technological research and that have the potential to be developed into commercial products. Apart from the protection of plant varieties by rights legislation, foreign organisations and individuals have enjoyed almost free access to our genetic resources. The Convention on Biological Diversity recognises the sovereign rights of countries over their genetic resources and their authority to determine access conditions, including the sharing of any benefits gained. It is in Australia's interest to control access to our genetic resources and obtain an appropriate return for any permitted access.
Some States and Territories are already considering legislative action to control and obtain benefits from access to genetic resources. In the context of ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity it was recommended that a Commonwealth, State and Territory Working Group be established to investigate and report on the strengthening of existing controls governing access to genetic resources, including legislation. The Commonwealth Co-ordinating Committee on Science and Technology is preparing a discussion paper on access to Australia's biological resources and their products.
2.8.1 Working group
Establish a Commonwealth/State Working Group to investigate and report on matters relating to access to Australian genetic resources, including the strengthening of existing controls and legislation.
2.8.2 Sharing benefits
Through effective controls, legislation and incentives (including secure property rights) ensure that Australia participates in research into and development of, and shares the benefits from, any commercial opportunities, including the development of biotechnologies that are based on genetic resources collected from areas within Australia's jurisdiction.
2.8.3 Non-threatening collection
Ensure that collection of genetic resources for research and development purposes does not adversely affect the viability or conservation status of the species or population being collected or of any component of its habitat.
2.8.4 Screening programs
Encourage and support the establishment of screening programs within Australia to identify genetic products of social and economic benefit.
2.8.5 Property rights
Ensure that Australia benefits from access to and use of its genetic resources through existing arrangements such as plant variety rights and patents legislation and any new arrangements that are developed.
The use and benefits of traditional knowledge are discussed under Action 1.8.2.
2.8.6 Ex-situ conservation of genetic material
Encourage and support the activities identified for Actions 1.9.1(b) and 1.9.1(c).