Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2009
Outcome 1 - Environment (continued)
The department develops and implements Australian Government initiatives to protect and conserve Australia's terrestrial environments, biodiversity and inland waters.
||Australian Government Land and Coasts|
||Parks Australia Division|
||Supervising Scientist Division|
- The Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative commenced on 1 July 2008. The aim is to achieve an environment that is healthy, better protected, well-managed and resilient, and provides essential ecosystem services in a changing climate. Caring for our Country aims to achieve its strategic goal by focusing on six national priority areas: the National Reserve System; biodiversity and natural icons; coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats; sustainable farm practices; natural resource management in northern and remote Australia; and community skills, knowledge and engagement. Caring for our Country will provide more than $2 billion in funding over its first five years.
- Caring for our Country five-year Outcomes for 2008-13 were approved and announced in September 2008. The Caring for our Country business plan for 2009-10 was released in November 2008. For 2008-09 over $22.8 million was provided for 138 Open Grants projects, $4.9 million for successful Environmental Stewardship bids, $30 million for Reef Rescue and $17.2 million for Landcare Sustainable Practice Grants projects.
- The first rounds of the Environmental Stewardship program resulted in $30.4 million in funding for landholders, to conserve the critically endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodland.
- The Tasmanian Forest Conservation Fund protected over 12 000 hectares of old growth and other high conservation value forest communities on private land. This total includes over 10 400 hectares of old growth forest. The Forest Conservation Fund program has protected a total of around 28 000 hectares since 2005-06.
- Eight new Working on Country projects commenced in 2008-09. There are now 31 Working on Country projects undertaking environmental works across Australia. The program will expand in early 2009-10, to fund 50 Indigenous traineeships and 60 flexible employment opportunities in the land and sea management sector. It will also fund approximately 100 additional Indigenous ranger positions, to undertake environmental works on land that is not Indigenous-owned.
- The department has been working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry during the implementation of the Beale Review of Quarantine and Biosecurity. The Review's implementation provides an opportunity to improve environmental outcomes across the biosecurity spectrum (pre-, at and post-border) particularly in the areas of emergency response, and monitoring and surveillance.
- Under Caring for our Country, $34.4 million was invested in the Biodiversity and Natural Icons priority area, $65.7 million in the Coastal Environments and Critical Aquatic Habitats priority area, and over $47 million in the Sustainable Farm Practices priority area, to improve ecosystem services.
- Using Caring for our Country funds, the National Reserve System program acquired 16 properties, covering 147 000 hectares. This brought the total area protected through this grants program to 7.972 million hectares.
- The Caring for our Country Victorian Bushfire Recovery program was established to assist in mitigating post-bushfire environmental effects. It will provide $10.8 million over two years to assist community, local government, non-government organisations, and landholders, to undertake targeted natural resource management bushfire recovery works in fire affected regions.
- Australia's Strategy for the National Reserve System 2009-30 was endorsed by all Australian governments, replacing the previous strategy.
- Six Indigenous Protected Areas were declared, bringing the total to 31, covering over 20.6 million hectares.
- Nationally, conservation covenants on private land secured the protection and management of an additional 240 areas, totaling 252 797 hectares, during 2008-09. This brings the total number of conservation covenants (as of 30 June 2009) to 3987, securing 1 569 125 hectares of land in perpetuity.
- The inaugural Australian Biological Resources Study Eureka Prize, for Outstanding Taxonomic Research, was awarded to Dr Bill Humphreys from the Western Australian Museum, for his work on underground aquatic species in Western Australia.
- Thirteen reports from the Tropical Rivers Inventory and Assessment Project (funded by Land and Water Australia and the Natural Heritage Trust), were finalised and posted on the department's website.
- Ensure the management of Australia's terrestrial environments, including their biodiversity, is ecologically sustainable. Ensure also that effects on terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem services, including habitat loss, invasive species and climate change, are addressed.
- Protect the environmental assets and values of the land, including biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- Protect and conserve biodiversity, by establishing a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of protected areas.
- Investment in Caring for our Country activities is aimed at outcomes that will ensure that Australia's environment is healthy, better protected, well-managed, resilient, and provides essential ecosystem services in a changing climate.
- Increase efficiencies in achieving conservation outcomes through targeted use of market incentives and conservation covenants for the protection and management of biological values on private land.
- Support Indigenous aspirations in Caring for our Country.
- Protect and manage Australia's environmental and heritage values, by providing paid employment for Indigenous people to undertake environmental work.
- Provide nationally accredited training and career pathways for Indigenous people in land and sea management, in partnership with industry and others.
- Provide opportunities for Indigenous participation in fledgling carbon markets, by establishing the legal framework for the creation of carbon credits from altered fire management practices.
- Assist land managers to increase sustainable farm management practices that will deliver improved ecosystem services.
- Manage invasive species (pest animals and weeds) by developing and delivering effective policies and practices.
- Improve the knowledge and skills of communities, to increase engagement in sustainable resource management and environmental protection.
- Deliver environmental protection and natural resource management outcomes in bushfire affected areas of Victoria, as part of a regional rebuilding initiative.
- Establish an effective legal framework to manage the sustainable access to, and equitable distribution of benefits derived from, genetic and biochemical resources from Australia's biodiversity.
- Increase our understanding of Australia's biodiversity, by strengthening taxonomic capacity and delivering value-added services and information.
- Identify the key threats to the ongoing health of tropical wetlands. Contribute to the development of strategies to protect the values of wetlands.
- An investment of approximately $2 million was made available to reduce threats to native species and ecological communities from terrestrial invasive species.
- In addition, over $1.7 million was committed in 2008-09 through Caring for our Country, to a range of projects to address some of Australia's most significant pest animal and weeds problems, including wild dogs, rabbits, foxes, goats and pigs.
- Five year outcomes for Caring for our Country were released in September 2008. Then the first annual Caring for our Country business plan was released in November 2008, seeking investment proposals against one to four year targets. In 2008-09, $159 million was approved for regional investments. Base-level funding allocations were identified for all regional Natural Resource Management organisations over the first five years of Caring for our Country. Open Grants, Working on Country and Environmental Stewardship investments for 2008-09 were advertised and announced.
- Three rounds of investment in the Box Gum Grassy Woodland project were conducted through the Environmental Stewardship program, resulting in conservation management of over 11 000 hectares of the critically endangered ecological community. In New South Wales and Queensland, 126 private landholders have been contracted to carry out management activities under the Environmental Stewardship program for up to 15 years.
- Thirty-one Working on Country projects were funded in 2008-09, at a cost of $62.7 million over five years. They will provide employment for over 200 Indigenous rangers. As at 30 June 2009 over 190 rangers have been contracted to deliver environmental services for the Australian Government.
- Over 125 Indigenous rangers participated in induction, training and transfer of traditional knowledge activities in 2008-09. These included cultural exchanges between ranger groups, health and safety training and delivery of Conservation and Land Management certification. Workshops were also held with Indigenous community representatives to develop tools that will guide them in delivering training to Indigenous rangers. Feedback on this initiative from rangers and communities was very positive.
- Research and Indigenous capacity building was undertaken to help implement a low-intensity fire regime across Australia's northern savanna regions. There is potential for emission abatement opportunities with this work, as well as biodiversity and the social benefits associated with Indigenous participation in natural resource management.
- A range of projects is underway to assist community and producer groups, regional natural resource management bodies and non-government organisations, such as industry organisations. The projects aim to improve sustainable farm practices on-ground and increase farmers' knowledge and skills in natural resource management.
- The department continued to work with all states and territories to deliver projects that will assist the Australian Government to meet its obligations under the Australian Pest Animal Strategy and the Australian Weeds Strategy. This included membership of the Vertebrate Pests Committee and its Working Groups, and chairing the Australian Weeds Committee, to implement the Australian Weeds Strategy and the Weeds of National Significance program, which were funded under Caring for our Country in 2008-09.
- Competitive grants worth over $20.2 million were provided for 439 Community Coastcare projects in 2008-09. Over the next 18 to 24 months, communities will undertake activities that will contribute to the protection and enhancement of Australia's coastal environments, through the conservation of coastal land and inland waters.
- Two significant Caring for our Country projects, that will help address water quality issues in the Gippsland Lakes, have commenced.
- In 2008-09 the Caring for our Country - National Reserve System program supported the purchase of 16 properties, covering 147 000 hectares, with a contribution of over $24 million. Strategic projects for the establishment of protected areas on private lands (through perpetual covenants) were also supported, at a cost of $1.1 million. Support for the purchase of the Cranebrook property in western Sydney helped fulfill the government's commitment to further protect the endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland.
- Over 330 000 hectares of Indigenous Protected Areas were declared.
- The Australian Biological Resources Study National Taxonomy Research Grant program improved taxonomic capacity, by funding 43 grants and taxonomic training positions (post doctoral fellowships, PhD scholarships). The program published three books and expanded its taxonomic databases, at a cost of $1.9 million.
- The 13 Tropical Rivers Inventory and Assessment Project reports were disseminated to members of the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research consortium, and to stakeholders across northern Australia.
- The Supervising Scientist Divison co-authored several papers on the molecular genetics of endemic freshwater shrimps and isopods, located in the stone country of western Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park. Interstate collaborators were Dr G Wilson from the Australian Museum (Isopods), and Dr T Page from Griffith University and Dr J Short from BioAccess Australia (shrimps).
- Research scientist, Dr Rick van Dam, from the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist, has compiled and edited a special issue of the Australasian Journal of Ecotoxicology, focusing on tropical ecotoxicology in Australasia. The issue includes eight articles, describing soil or water quality related research from Australia and south-east Asia.
Threat Abatement Plans
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the department develops and supports the implementation of threat abatement plans. These plans set out the actions needed to reduce the effects of listed key threats, such as pests and diseases, on affected native species or ecological communities. Threat abatement plans are reviewed every five years.
Over the past year, nine threat abatement plans were operating for key terrestrial threatening processes listed under the EPBC Act. Five revised plans were made and one new plan was developed. Threat abatement plans were also developed to protect Australian native species from Phytophthora (commonly known as 'dieback') and from predation by exotic rodents on small offshore islands. A national cane toad plan is being developed.
The department collaborates with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and other stakeholders, including the state and territory governments and private landholders, to develop and implement threat abatement plans and projects.
|Competition and land degradation by unmanaged goats||2008||Current|
|Competition and land degradation by rabbits||2008||Current|
|Predation by the European red fox||2008||Current|
|Predation by feral cats||2008||Current|
|Disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi||2009||Current|
|Beak and feather disease affecting endangered psittacine species||2005||Current|
|Predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs||2005||Current|
|Infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus, resulting in chytridiomycosis||2006||Current|
|Reduction in impacts of tramp ants on biodiversity in Australia and its territories||2006||Current|
|To reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on the biodiversity of Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares||-||Under development|
Caring for our Country
Caring for our Country will provide over $2 billion in funding over its first five years (2008-09 to 2012-13). The government has approved a series of specific Caring for our Country outcomes, to help focus investment on achieving national priorities and avoid spreading the funds so thinly that the improvements cannot be measured or reported. Short-term Caring for our Country targets have been developed for years two to five (2009-10 to 2012-13), to help achieve these outcomes. The targets play a crucial role in guiding the investment by identifying the steps that need to be taken to achieve the target outcomes.
In November 2008, as part of the transitional arrangements for the Caring for our Country initiative, 138 Open Grants projects were approved worth $28.961 million for 2008-09 and 2009-10. Funding was available for high quality projects in the six national priority areas, particularly those that would: protect, enhance or restore Australia's biodiversity and natural icons; improve the water quality of our critical aquatic habitats; and achieve greater take-up of sustainable farm practices. The package included: more than $5.5 million for sustainable farming practices; $8.9 million for Landcare projects; $7.3 million for biodiversity and natural icons; $5.7 million for coasts and critical aquatic habitats; and $1.1 million for other projects. In total $24.7 million was expended in 2008-09.
In 2008-09, Caring for our Country funding was also provided for: Australia's National Reserve System ($25.8 million); preparation of the Ningaloo Reef nomination for submission to the World Heritage Committee ($0.2 million); management of the Queensland Wet Tropics ($2.7 million) and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Areas ($3.4 million); Indigenous Protected Areas ($4.5 million); Working on Country ($9.0 million); Indigenous Emissions Trading ($1.4 million); Environmental Stewardship ($7.1 million); Reef Rescue ($34.9 million); development of a national cane toad plan ($0.8 million); the Gippsland Lakes and Eastern Creek Wetlands ($6.1 million); support for research into the facial disease in Tasmanian Devils ($2.0 million); Fox Free Tasmania ($7.9 million); and rabbit and rodent control on Macquarie Island ($1.7 million).
National Biodiversity Strategy
The consultation draft of Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-20, sets national directions for biodiversity conservation over the next decade. The draft revised strategy was developed through the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council's second five-yearly review of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity. The consultation draft was released for public comment from 23 March to 29 May 2009, and is available through the department's website at: www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/strategy/review.html. The review task group is aiming to submit the final strategy for consideration by the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council in late 2009. The department is the secretariat to the review task group.
Native Vegetation Framework
The National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation (Native Vegetation Framework) is an agreement made in 1999 between the Australian, state and territory governments, for a coordinated national approach to native vegetation management. Under the framework, governments agreed to reverse the long-term decline in the extent and quality of Australia's native vegetation. The Native Vegetation Framework has been an important driver for the development of native vegetation management policy and legislation in all jurisdictions.
The Framework is currently being reviewed by a task group reporting to the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council. The task group has representatives from all state and territory jurisdictions, the Australian Government and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). It has made substantial progress in redrafting the framework, to bring it into line with the latest thinking on: climate change; habitat connectivity; and ecosystem function; and also to ensure its alignment with the key directions in the draft revised National Biodiversity Strategy. The draft revised framework is currently expected to be ready for stakeholder consultations in late 2009. The department is the secretariat to the review task group.
The Forest Conservation Fund
Environmental aspects of the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement were progressed. The Forest Conservation Fund program employed a number of market based approaches to secure conservation outcomes on private land. Its tender process encouraged landowners to seek funding, in exchange for placing a conservation covenant on their forested land. Over 2008-09, the second (and final) round of the competitive tender was completed, with 29 funding proposals accepted, totalling 4730 hectares, at a cost of almost $8 million. A further total of 8900 hectares was approved for funding through direct, fixed price, offers to landowners, at a cost of around $14.3 million.
The Mole Creek component of the Forest Conservation Fund concluded on 30 June 2008, protecting over 500 hectares of high priority karst and forest landscape, through covenanting or land purchase, at a cost of just under $3 million. The Forest Conservation Fund Revolving Fund (with over $6 million contributed by the Australian Government) was established in 2007-08. It is operated by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy. Land is purchased from willing sellers, with the forested component placed under conservation covenants. The land is then offered for re-sale on the open market. In 2008-09 a decision was made to extend the Revolving Fund to 2014. To date, this approach has protected some 900 hectares of high conservation value forest.
Environmental Stewardship Program
The Caring for our Country - Environmental Stewardship program provides market-based incentives for private land managers to engage in the long-term protection and rehabilitation of matters of national environmental significance, as listed under the EPBC Act. These matters include: nationally endangered or vulnerable species and ecological communities; natural values associated with world heritage and national heritage listed places; and migratory species and wetlands for which Australia has international responsibilities.
The first matter of national environmental significance to be targeted is the critically endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodland ecological community, extending from southern Queensland, through the wheat-sheep belt of New South Wales, to northern Victoria. Implementation of the first three rounds of the Box Gum Grassy Woodland project occurred over 2008-09.
The first round was delivered in the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee catchments in New South Wales. It targeted Box Gum Grassy Woodland areas of five hectares or greater, on privately held land. A competitive auction process was undertaken to evaluate bids submitted by eligible land managers wishing to participate in the program. An environmental benefits index, called the Conservation Value Measure, was used to assess the value-for-money of bids submitted and guide selection of successful proposals.
A second round was carried out in the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee catchment areas. A third round targeting areas of 50 hectares or greater was carried out in the Border Rivers - Maranoa, Balonne and Condamine catchment areas of South East Queensland, and the Border Rivers - Gwydir, Namoi and Central West catchment areas of northern New South Wales.
As a result of the three rounds, 126 successful landowners have entered into Environmental Stewardship contracts, protecting over 11 000 hectares of critically endangered native habitat at a total cost of around $30.4 million.
Covenants for conservation on private land
Conservation and management of biodiversity and ecosystem function on privately held lands is further supported through the use of conservation covenants which are registered on land title in perpetuity.
The Australian Government, in partnership with private conservation organisations in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, has continued to support operation of revolving funds in each state. Through partnership arrangements, revolving funds were established from 2001 to fund the purchase of land of conservation interest on the open market, covenant that land to protect those values and resell to private landholders at market value. During 2008-09, a total of 11 488 hectares of conservation lands was purchased or revolved through the real estate market. These partner organisations currently hold an additional 3505 hectares of conservation lands on the market for sale.
Conservation covenants on private lands are also supported through the minister's approval process. Ministerial approval is a requirement for landholders wishing to apply for tax concessions and deductions related to perpetually covenanting their land. The minister has approved 11 covenanting programs. These programs covenanted 252 797 hectares in 2008-09, bringing the total area protected under these approved programs to 1 569 125 hectares.
Native vegetation information
The department continued work to improve the National Vegetation Information System (NVIS), comprising an inventory of Australia's vegetation types, provided by the states and territories. During 2008-09, the department developed methods to monitor the effectiveness of on-ground management activities in conserving native vegetation. In addition, collaboration with the states and territories improved information on the extent and distribution of native vegetation. One use of the NVIS data was to assist with threatened ecological community conservation and recovery planning.
As part of the $10 million, five-year, Caring for Our Country election commitment to a 'Save the Tasmanian Devil' program, the Australian Government provided the first $2 million in 2008-09. Program funding is directed by strategic and annual business plans and actions are progressing in accordance with those plans. These include: expansion of the insurance population in partnership with wildlife parks; commencement of trials of free-range enclosures; monitoring and mapping of the disease front; monitoring of devil populations at selected sites; ongoing research to support wildlife management measures; as well as research into the evolution of the tumour, genetic resistance and pre-clinical diagnostic tools.
Working on Country continued to provide funding for Indigenous people to do environmental work. Their contribution will help to maintain, restore, protect and manage Australia's land, sea and heritage. The program builds on Indigenous knowledge of protecting and managing land and sea country and supports the caring for country work that Indigenous people want to do for community and cultural reasons. It will also help the Australian Government meet its responsibility to protect and conserve the environment.
Indigenous communities continue to respond positively to the program, now in its second year, with program funds being in high demand. Projects range from: the provision of environmental services across two million hectares of culturally significant country, containing seven known threatened animal species, in the Western Desert of Western Australia; to the implementation of a recovery plan for the threatened, and culturally significant, Warru - the black-flanked rock wallaby in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of South Australia. In the Torres Strait, eight Islander communities are providing environmental services, which include monitoring turtle and dugong populations and surveying significant terrestrial ecological environments.
The Indigenous Emissions Trading component of the Caring for our Country initiative aims to provide opportunities for Indigenous participation in fledgling carbon markets. It will establish the legal framework for the creation of carbon credits from altered fire management, through two key areas of activity. The Northern Savanna Fire Management project is implementing traditional, mosaic-style, fire management practices in northern Australia. Alongside biodiversity benefits, these practices may also deliver carbon abatement, by better controls, leading to less extensive and severe fires. As part of this project, research is being undertaken to help determine actual emission outcomes from fire management. Other requirements are also being addressed to facilitate market participation, including market analysis and the development of legal and governance frameworks for Indigenous entry into markets. This project is being delivered in partnership with the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA). It involves the establishment of up to four, large-scale, fire management project areas in the savanna regions of northern Australia, including northern Kimberley, central Arnhem Land, western Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Indigenous Carbon Market Participation project is assisting Indigenous people to better understand the potential implications, and the opportunities, of climate change for their communities. It is also assisting Indigenous land managers with other options for carbon abatement and sequestration.
Sustainable farming practices
Caring for our Country supports a variety of strategies to deliver sustainable farm practices on-ground, including: collective activities to promote adoption of practices; demonstration sites and workshops; promotion of innovative practices; and codes of practice or guidelines. The department collaborates with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and other stakeholders, including the states, the territories and private landholders, to commission research projects to underpin national natural resource management policies. The department, jointly with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, is progressing a national approach to invasive species, through its representation on two national committees: the Vertebrate Pests Committee and the Australian Weeds Committee. The Vertebrate Pests Committee developed an Implementation Plan for the Australian Pest Animal Strategy, for consideration by the National Biosecurity Committee. The Plan received endorsement in December 2008 and the department is now actively involved in its delivery.
A national cane toad plan, addressing the impacts of cane toads and methods to reduce these impacts, is being prepared. Under an election commitment, this national plan will incorporate:
- current research on the impacts of cane toads
- new understanding on the ability of populations of native species to adapt and recover after the initial impacts of toad invasion, and
- methods to reduce the initial and long term biodiversity impacts of cane toads.
Three research projects aimed at understanding cane toad impacts and improving methods for limiting them, were funded in 2008-09. These projects had a total financial value of $479,292. Caring for our Country investments were also made: in the development of the national plan ($34,201) and the development of codes of practice and standard operating procedures for the humane control of cane toads ($66,000).
Three community based projects to manually remove cane toads from the environment in northern NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, were also funded through the Open Grants element. These projects had a total financial value of $338,346 and involved at least 900 volunteer days of cane toad control. Two additional projects: the field-testing of cane toad trapping methods; and an assessment of the risks posed to the biodiversity conservation value of Northern Territory islands, by threats such as cane toads, were also funded under the Open Grants element. The total financial value of these projects was $395,950.
Community Coastcare was implemented to provide funding opportunities for communities to participate in coastal and inland waters protection and restoration activities, and to support national projects. Projects funded included: community engagement activities to raise awareness about land-based impacts on riverine and other aquatic habitats; and projects where habitats and biodiversity of wetlands will be restored, through awareness-raising, strategic planning and on-ground works. For example, a Community Coastcare project in Tumby Bay, South Australia, will use stock exclusion and revegetation activities, to improve wetlands and reduce sediment discharge into inland waters that have flow-on impacts on coastal waters. The improvement of this wetland environment will increase its capacity to act as a filter for the catchment, prior to discharge to the coastal and marine environments. The Envirofund small grants program (rounds nine and ten) supported 1250 projects, worth over $26.7 million. During 2008-09 these projects contributed to the conservation of Australia's land and inland waters, through activities such as stock exclusion fencing, and land and aquatic weed removal, to protect and rehabilitate wetlands.
In the Gippsland Lakes, $5.25 million is being invested over three years to: improve water quality and reduce nutrient inputs from public and private land ($3 million); and to minimise the impacts of flooding problems for current and future developments, through a flood mitigation program ($2.25 million). Good progress is being made, with these projects well underway.
Terrestrial parks and reserves
The Director of National Parks is a statutory corporation established under the EPBC Act to administer and manage Commonwealth reserves (national parks, botanic gardens, marine and terrestrial reserves) established under the Act. They include Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Booderee national parks, which are jointly managed with their Indigenous traditional owners. The Director is supported by staff of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Detailed information about the 2008-09 management outcomes for Commonwealth reserves appears in the annual report of the Director of National Parks, available at www.environment.gov.au/parks/publications.
In addition to the statutory functions, the Director has also been delegated management functions and powers by the minister and the Secretary of the department. Under these delegations, the Director administers: the National Reserve System Program; the Indigenous Protected Areas Program; the Australian Biological Resources Study; the development of Australian Government policy on management of Australia's genetic resources; and coordination and leadership of Australia's commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
National Reserve System program
Under the Australian Government Caring for our Country initiative, the National Reserve System program supports the acquisition and covenanting of properties to establish protected areas. The properties are managed for nature conservation as part of the National Reserve System. The National Reserve System is Australia's network of protected areas, conserving examples of our natural landscapes and native plants and animals for future generations. It is made up Commonwealth, state, territory and local council reserves, Indigenous lands and protected areas run by non-profit conservation organisations, through to ecosystems protected by farmers on their private working properties.
Australia's National Reserve System protects over 89 million hectares, in more than 9000 protected areas. This is over 11 per cent of Australia's land area.
In 2008-09, the program contributed over $24 million towards the purchase of 16 properties, covering 147 000 hectares. It also contributed just over $1.1 million to strategic projects for the establishment of protected areas on private lands (through perpetual covenants).
Land acquisition and protected area on private land projects supported this year, include:
- Logan Escarpment, Queensland - 43 hectares helping to conserve important koala habitat and add to the reserves in the area. This acquisition addresses one of the key challenges facing all Australian cities - striking a balance between development and conservation. The purchase also represents a new conservation relationship between local councils and the Australian Government. The National Reserve System program provided $1.5 million in funding to help purchase the bushland property and Logan City Council provided the balance of $1.2 million.
- The Northern Territory Conservation Partnership program. Recognising the significant biodiversity values located outside the formal reserve system, the Northern Territory Government, with support from the National Reserve System program, has successfully initiated conservation partnership agreements with landholders. Following a scoping study undertaken in 2007-08, the Northern Territory Government is in the process of amending legislative frameworks and negotiating with landholders to deliver the Territory's first conservation covenants.
- Cranebrook, New South Wales - The acquisition of the 181 hectare Cranebrook property in western Sydney by the NSW and Australian Governments created an important link in the wildlife corridor through this region. The addition of this area to the National Reserve System will protect an area of the nationally threatened Cumberland Plain Woodland ecological community, habitat for six nationally threatened flora species.
- Toorale Station, New South Wales, 91 000 hectares (see Case study 4 in this chapter and Case study 2 in the Outcome 3 - Water chapter).
- Egg Islands Reserve, Tasmania, 150 hectares (see Case study 3).
Indigenous Protected Areas
Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) are non-statutory protected areas that form part of the National Reserve System. Funding for the establishment of IPAs is provided from the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative. It helps Indigenous landowners establish and manage IPAs on their lands, through contractual arrangements with the Australian Government. The program also promotes the integration of Indigenous ecological and cultural knowledge into the management of these areas.
Six IPAs, covering over 330 000 hectares, were declared in 2008-09. These were:
- Lungtalanana (8239 hectares), Babel Island (460 hectares) and Big Dog Island (332 hectares), three separate Tasmanian island IPAs located in the Outer Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait. The islands contain extensive mutton-bird rookeries, nesting sites for Cape Barren Geese, tussock grasslands and stands of the threatened Callitris rhomboidea forest, listed as endangered in Tasmanian law.
- Tarriwa Kurrukun IPA (928 hectares), located northwest of Guyra in the New England Tablelands district of New South Wales and part of the traditional lands of the BanBai nation. Tarriwa Kurrukun IPA contains a high diversity of cultural and natural heritage, with high altitude wetlands, creek systems, box woodlands, traditional food and medicinal plants.
- Angas Downs, an Indigenous owned 320 500 hectare pastoral lease, located 300 kilometres south west of Alice Springs and 135 kilometres east of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, in the Northern Territory. Anangu Rangers and the Imanpa community, through the Caring for our Country, Working on Country and Indigenous Protected Areas Programs, are restoring the environment, removing feral animals, securing water, reintroducing native species, protecting cultural sites and establishing a wildlife sanctuary.
In 2008-09 the Indigenous Protected Areas Program supported 31 declared IPAs. There were an additional 31 consultation projects, exploring the potential for IPA declaration over a further 29 million hectares of Indigenous owned land.
The government's Caring for our Country commitment to provide funding of $50 million over five years is contributing to a significant expansion of environmental and cultural outcomes on IPAs. A total of $4.6 million was expended in grants and support of projects during 2008-09.
The Indigenous Land Corporation provided an additional $2.5 million in 2008-09 under a three-year, $7 million agreement to expand the Indigenous Protected Area initiative. This arrangement enabled coordinated, streamlined funding support for IPAs from government.
Genetic Resources Management
Australia's biodiversity offers huge potential for both fundamental and applied scientific research, generating applications with economic, social and environmental value - for example, in agriculture, bioremediation, alternative fuels and drug design.
The Genetic Resources Management Section manages a regulatory and policy framework for access to native genetic resources in Commonwealth areas and benefit-sharing arising from their use. Its purpose is to provide legal certainty for researchers and innovators, to ensure sustainable use and to obtain tangible benefits for the conservation of Australia's biodiversity.
The access and benefit-sharing framework is now beginning to make more accessible new scientific knowledge on Australia's biodiversity. Reporting mechanisms have been refined to harmonise with the data standards of the Australian Government's Atlas of Living Australia project. In the last year the department and accredited agencies provided over 70 access permits. Two benefit-sharing agreements were finalised for commercial research.
A working group meeting was held with the states and territories to support the nationally consistent approach and to promote best practice in access to genetic resources. The department provided policy support and assistance in the development and launch of Victoria's access and benefit-sharing policy. Victoria joins Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Government in enacting measures to implement a nationally consistent approach to access and benefit sharing.
A Biodiscovery Industry Panel was co-convened with AusBiotech, Australia's biotechnology industry peak body, to provide industry input into policy development.
The department provides policy advice for Australia's participation in the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing, under the Convention on Biological Diversity. This Group met once during 2008-09, to continue negotiations on an international regime on access and benefit-sharing.
Flora of Australia volume 44A is the third in a series of four volumes by the Australian Biological Resources Study to cover Australian grasses.
Cover Design: Margaret Saul
Australian Biological Resources Study
The Australian Biological Resources Study is responsible for funding and disseminating information on species discovery, also known as taxonomy - the science of naming and describing Australia's biodiversity. Its range of taxonomic works and databases provides national references for the names of species and, through the Australian Biological Resources Study National Taxonomy Research Grant program, provides the only ongoing source of funding for taxonomic research in Australia. Accurate naming of species is required for conservation, biosecurity and a range of industry uses.
Major changes were made to the Participatory Grant Program, in response to recommendations arising from the 2007 National Taxonomy Forum. The program was renamed the National Taxonomy Research Grant Program, the application process was simplified and a new requirement for co-funding was introduced, which will result in an increase in funding for taxonomy in Australia.
A range of new partnerships has also been pursued. The first of these - with CReefs - increased funding for tropical reef taxonomy, through a partnership with BHP Billiton, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Over the past 12 months, the Australian Biological Resources Study has achieved:
online publication of a range of species information in their fauna, flora and lichen databases
publication of three books: two volumes in the Flora of Australia Series, covering lichens and grasses, and the Tenebrionid Beetles of Australia book, and
a Certificate of Commendation at the Whitley Awards for the publication Australian Ladybird Beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae).
It also produced a Darwin Education kit and poster, in conjunction with the Australian Science and Teachers Association, to educate school students about Charles Darwin, his voyage of discovery, species and science. This celebrates the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of his seminal book, Origin of the Species.
Charles Darwin: a voyage of discovery is a Teachers Resource Book designed to assist teachers of students in the middle years of schooling. It provides information on the history of discovery of species, new techniques and theories surrounding plant and animal identification, and outlines a number of tasks for students to undertake.
Poster Design: Brigitte Kuchlmayr (ABRS)
Tropical Wetlands research
The Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (ERISS), a branch of the Supervising Scientist Division, carries out research on tropical rivers and their extensive associated wetlands in northern Australia. The focus is on sustainability of these natural resources. This work complements the Division's role in protecting the environment of the Alligator Rivers Region from the impacts of uranium mining. Research is being conducted into developing remote sensing methods for assessing:
- the prevalence and rate of spread of aquatic weeds in floodplain environments of the Alligator Rivers Region
- the likely extent of climate change induced sea-level rise on intrusion of salt water into floodplain environments
- changes through time in wetland environments.
To facilitate this work, a Spatial Sciences and Data Integration team has been formed. The team brings together all staff with spatial sciences expertise, previously working in separate groups in ERISS.
The Supervising Scientist Division is a member of the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research consortium, established and co-funded by the Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities program. ERISS is contributing research expertise to Theme 1 - Integration and Knowledge Management, Theme 4 - Water budgets and Theme 5 - Biodiversity Assessment.
The Division is also contributing expertise to three technical working groups, Knowledge Management, Aquatic Ecosystems and Water Resources, which support the Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment. The Division also has two members on the steering committee developing the scope of works for the revision of the ANZECC/ARMCANZ (2000) Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality.
The Division provides technical advice to the Kyoto and Carbon Initiative, a multi-national research program initiated by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and has an ongoing involvement in coordinating the wetland research theme. The Initiative uses satellite-based radar mapping technologies to map and monitor global wetland environments, in support of international conventions.
Caring for our Country initiative
In September 2008 the government released the Caring for our Country Outcome Statements for 2008-13. These set out the Australian Government's vision for the first five years of the initiative, in each of the six national priority areas, comprising: Australia's National Reserve System; biodiversity and natural icons; coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats; sustainable farm practices; natural resource management in northern and remote Australia; and community skills, knowledge and engagement.
The Caring for our Country 2009-10 Business Plan was released in November 2008, seeking proposals that would enable the achievement of the planned outcomes in an effective, efficient and timely manner. The call for proposals was highly successful, with over 1350 applications received, worth more than $3.4 billion, for projects to be implemented over the next one to four years.
The natural resource management Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) Framework was released in September 2008. This Framework sets out a generic approach for monitoring, evaluation, reporting on, and improving, Australia's approach to managing key natural resource assets. Key assets include human, social, natural, biophysical and financial assets at a program level. The MERI Framework provides a model for assessing program performance and the state of change in assets over time, against planned immediate, intermediate and longer term outcomes.
Building on the principles of the MERI Framework, the draft MERI Strategy for Caring for our County was released in April 2009. The strategy describes the roles and responsibilities of the Australian Government and proponents, in implementing MERI for Caring for our Country. The strategy focuses on implementing the Caring for our Country initiative outcomes for 2008-13. It relies on: articulation of clear MERI requirements; reporting of performance (financial and delivery) by outcomes; and undertaking of annual and periodic evaluations to monitor, report on, and improve implementation; to achieve the planned five-year outcomes. The strategy provides an adaptive management approach to assist the Australian Government to deliver the initiative's five-year outcomes for each of the six national priority areas and associated election commitments.
To support the implementation of the MERI strategy for Caring for our Country, guides on how to develop a program logic, and to undertake performance story reports, have been released. The program logic guide is designed to help Caring for our Country proponents understand and prepare their program logic, as the first step in developing a project MERI plan. Ten workshops have been undertaken across northern and remote Australia, to assist Indigenous communities to build program logic and MERI skills for the implementation of Caring for our Country projects.
The performance story guide provides a step by step methodology on how to undertake a performance story report, as a means of monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the implementation of a project. Performance story reports have been developed, in conjunction with the local communities, for the following regions: Ginini Wetlands; Hawkesbury Nepean catchments; Reef catchments and North Queensland Dry Tropics; Barkly Tablelands-Desert Channels; South Australia Murray Darling Basin; Victorian Volcanic Plains; and Western Australian Rangelands Ecofire Project. These performance story reports will provide a social and biophysical baseline, against which the impact of future Caring for our Country investment will be evaluated.
In July 2008, an evaluation workshop was held. It involved the environmental non-government organisations responsible for the ongoing management of the stewardship component of the Maintaining Australia's Biodiversity Hotspots program. The workshop concluded that the approach of using competitive tenders to achieve biodiversity conservation outcomes on private land had been successful in engaging landowners, and cost effective in delivery of relevant management actions.
A social science study has been undertaken, to evaluate attitudes to conservation among the Environmental Stewardship landowner target audience. Successful land owners, who enter into a contract through the program, will undertake annual monitoring activities, to measure the condition of the targeted community on their land. An ecological study will be undertaken to measure the overall change in condition of targeted sites.
The Caring for our Country Bushfire Recovery Program, for fire affected areas, is being implemented in accordance with the agreed timeframe. The Project Control Board will evaluate progress of the approved projects, prior to assessment of the second round of funding.
National Reserve System
An updated Strategy for the National Reserve System 2009-30 was developed to respond to the findings of evaluations of: the National Reserve Program (2006); the Indigenous Protected Areas Program (2006); the Senate Inquiry into Australia's national parks, conservation reserves and marine protected areas (2007); and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia's evaluation of progress on directions for the National Reserve System (2008).
The updated strategy:
- provides national guidance for improved cross-jurisdictional coordination
- supports collaborative action by protected area managers and a wider range of key stakeholders
- recognises and responds to the challenge of climate change
- identifies national targets and priority actions for the National Reserve System
- outlines priority targets to be delivered through five-year implementation plans.
Australian Biological Resources Study
Over the course of the year, the Australian Biological Resources Study undertook a comprehensive review of the existing Participatory Grants Program. The program has been restructured, with a clearer focus on capacity-building, job-creation, surety of funding and research priorities. The program was renamed the Australian Biological Resources Study National Taxonomy Research Grant Program. New research and capacity-building streams were introduced, to simplify the application process for applicants and increase the funding certainty for successful grantees. A new requirement for co-funding was also introduced, which will result in an increase in funding for taxonomy in Australia. The implemented changes will be evaluated in consultation with the independent Australian Biological Resources Study Advisory Committee in 2009-10, when the changes take effect.
All components of the Tropical Rivers Inventory and Assessment project were completed and the final reports accepted by Land and Water Australia. Requests for data compiled by this project are regularly received from researchers from the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge consortium and elsewhere.
Box Gum Grassy Woodland, Mulligan's Flat, Australian Capital Territory.
Photo: Graham Hodge
Environmental Stewardship is an element of the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative that aims to maintain and improve the condition and extent of high value environmental assets, listed under the EPBC Act, as matters of National Environmental Significance. The first asset targeted is the critically endangered White Box, Yellow Box and Blakely's Red Gum and derived grasslands, ecological community (Box Gum Grassy Woodland). This community extends from Queensland to Victoria, predominantly within the wheat-sheep belt.
Environmental Stewardship uses a market based approach to provide funding for private land managers to carry out conservation activities on their land for up to 15 years. These contract periods provide enough time to improve vegetation condition or extent and will also allow long-term monitoring of vegetation change.
The program uses voluntary auctions to attract eligible land managers, who then compete for funding through discreet funding rounds. This process includes evaluation both of the ecological condition of the proposed vegetation to be protected and of the management activities that land managers agree to undertake: such as restriction of grazing; retention of fallen timber; thinning of vegetation; and weed management. Individual land managers nominate the price they wish to be paid to undertake their proposed management actions. An environmental benefits index, based on a scientific understanding of the way in which these vegetation communities are expected to improve under different management regimes, ranks bids from highest to lowest based on their value-for-money
Environmental Stewardship's focus on targeting communities and species of national environmental significance on private land, builds on existing approaches to conservation, such as regulation, and setting aside land in protected areas, such as national parks and reserves. Over time, the program aims to influence the values and behaviours of private land managers, and encourage an awareness of, and participation in, conservation on their land.
Progress towards these goals will be measured using an established Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) plan, which includes: land manager monitoring of sites; a comprehensive ecological study; and a study of social attitudes and land manager approaches to conservation. These studies will establish benchmarks in both the ecological and social aspects of the program.
For more information on Environmental Stewardship see: www.nrm.gov.au/stewardship/index.html
Elma Yawtarrnga, David Campball and Nathan Bara tagging a turtle at Dalumba Bay.
Photo: Simon Hartley
Through the Working on Country element of the Caring for our Country initiative, Indigenous land and sea rangers are delivering environmental services to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and the nation.
Working on Country recognises that Indigenous rangers are best placed to manage the environment, because of their traditional knowledge of country and ongoing commitment and cultural obligations to care for their country.
There is great pride and ownership of Working on Country amongst Indigenous land and sea managers, as this observation made by Anindilyakwa Ranger Simeon Lalara demonstrates:
"We are looking at what will sustain us and our children into the future. The ranger program doesn't change the fundamental values of our people. It opens up a whole new range of experiences and training and brings cultural harmony."
The Anindilyakwa Rangers undertake a range of environmental work across the Anindilyakwa Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), which encompasses the Groote Eylandt Archipelago in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The IPA covers around 300 000 hectares of land, surrounded by 700 000 hectares of sea country.
The Anindilyakwa IPA is unique because of the absence of threats, such as feral animals and exotic plants that exist on the mainland and other large islands. This presents a rare opportunity to maintain and protect a virtually intact bio-system.
The men's ranger group undertakes sea patrols to monitor threatened species, such as the critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle, impacts to important fisheries and threats to our bio-security.
The women's ranger group work includes water quality monitoring, collection of marine debris, identification and eradication of weeds and management of significant cultural sites.
The women rangers also support the junior ranger program and, through training and mentoring, provide clear pathways to employment for young people in the ranger program.
The training undertaken by all the rangers equips them to manage the environment and provides skills transferable to jobs in tourism, mining and other natural resource management sectors.
Working on Country also makes a significant contribution to the Australian Government's commitment to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. It provides training and employment opportunities that result in economic benefits to individuals and communities. Significantly, participating in land and sea management activities also improves the health and wellbeing of Indigenous land and sea managers and helps build family and community cohesion.
In 2008-09 the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, with the help of the Australian Government, established the Egg Islands Reserve.
The Egg Islands are a beautiful mosaic of wetland, marsh, scrub and forest, stretching for 10 kilometres along Tasmania's Huon River. The Egg Island Reserve protects vital habitat for the globally-endangered Australasian bittern, whose booming twilight call is thought by many to be the origin of the Bunyip legend. The islands contain wetland habitat and endangered black gum forest, criss-crossed by misty channels that visitors can explore in row boats.
The reserve is a testament to an incredible conservation partnership: 150 hectares of bushland protected forever, through contributions from families, business donors and government.
The National Reserve System Program provided $200,000 to establish the reserve, with hundreds of private donors from around Australia providing the rest.
Threatened wetlands protected by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy's Egg Islands Reserve.
Photo: Matt Newton
The vast landscape of Toorale showing the Warrego River.
Photo: Tim Bond
The New South Wales Government purchased Toorale Station in December 2008, with substantial assistance from the Australian Government. This 91 000 hectare property, lies 60 kilometres south west of Bourke, upstream of the junction of the Warrego and Darling Rivers in western New South Wales.
Toorale Station and its water entitlements were purchased for $23.75 million, with funding from the Australian Government through the Water for the Future initiative, and $3.5 million from the National Reserve System element of Caring for our Country.
The purchase of Toorale makes a significant contribution to Australia's National Reserve System, protecting native habitat in two otherwise under-represented bioregions: the Mulga Lands and Darling Riverine Plains. The property adjoins Gundabooka National Park, creating an important 180 000 hectare core conservation area.
Toorale's environmental importance is well recognised - more than half of Toorale has been a gazetted Wildlife Refuge for more than 25 years. The property contains one of the few large intact areas of floodplain country in the state - a vast expanse of open grasslands interspersed with coolibah and black box trees, herbland and shrubs, including saltbush and lignum. These ecosystems are important for grassland birds, such as budgerigars, cockatiels and other seed-eating birds. Toorale's wetlands and swamps provide habitat for a range of waterbirds, including the statuesque white-faced heron and the vulnerable brolga. The property also contains riverine forests, eucalypt woodlands and acacia shrublands. Toorale is home to a great diversity of wildlife, with more than 150 animal species, including the Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, which is listed as threatened in New South Wales.
Establishing Toorale as a reserve will provide long term benefits to the region, through tourism and the creation of new conservation jobs. For further information on the role of the Water for the Future initiative in the purchase of Toorale, refer to the related Case study 2 in the Outcome 3 - Water chapter.
Case study 5: Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) Eureka Prize for Outstanding Taxonomic Research
The inaugural ABRS Eureka Prize for Outstanding Taxonomic Research was awarded to Dr Bill Humphreys of the Western Australian Museum, at the Eureka Awards night held at the Australian Museum in August 2008.
This prize is awarded to an Australian individual, group or organisation, for outstanding research in naming, identifying, classifying or describing Australia's fauna and flora that has provided, or has the potential to provide, innovative or positive outcomes for industry or the environment.
Dr Humphreys was recognised for his continued research into the discovery and taxonomic description of invertebrate animals associated with subterranean aquatic ecosystems, and for working with government and industry to enhance their conservation. As a result of his efforts, Western Australia is now recognised as a global biodiversity hotspot for subterranean aquatic ecosystems.
Dr Humphreys' research group has used a suite of modern techniques to investigate, identify and describe new species that were known to contribute substantially to Australia's biodiversity, so they could be recognised and protected for the future.
The Tropical Rivers Inventory and Assessment Project was a four-year (2004-2008), $1 million study funded by the department and Land and Water Australia. It sought to document what is currently known about the ecological assets and the key threats to Australia's northern (wet-dry) tropical rivers. The study had three sub-projects: (i) mapping and inventory, (ii) risk assessment of key threats and (iii) assessment of a framework for evaluating ecosystem services. The first two sub-projects covered 51 catchments across almost 1.2 million square kilometres of northern Australia, from Broome in the west to the western tip of Cape York. The key focus was on three catchments: the Fitzroy River (Western Australia), the Daly River (Northern Territory) and the Flinders River (Queensland).
Sub-project (ii) demonstrated the usefulness of applying a tiered approach to ecological risk assessment of tropical rivers. The initial stage involved gaining a broad understanding of the extent and status of the ecological assets and the threats faced by rivers. Secondly, formal semi-quantitative methods were used to assess and compare the significance of the threats. The final step was detailed quantitative risk analyses of high priority threats to specific ecological assets. These assessments built on the information base compiled during the mapping and inventory sub-project and were guided by information from workshops and discussions with stakeholders.
Highlights of the project included: the first comprehensive description of the key ecological assets and threats to northern tropical rivers; spatially explicit risk modelling to prioritise catchments, based on their relative risk arising from multiple threats or pressures to multiple ecological assets; and the use of Bayesian approaches in quantitative risk assessments.
From the 19 threats included in the model, the most significant current threats to the ecological assets of the region's aquatic ecosystems are cattle grazing on natural vegetation, feral pigs, poorly managed fire, aquatic weeds and mining. Climate change and sea level rise are emerging problems for the region's aquatic ecosystems and are likely to cause much greater impacts than currently exist.
The final reports and a DVD of geographic information system (GIS) datasets from the Tropical Rivers Inventory and Assessment Project, which were completed during 2007-2008, were made publicly available on the department's website at: www.environment.gov.au/ssd/tropical-rivers, during 2008-2009.
|Area of land protected and managed through the National Reserve System Program, including the area of declared Indigenous Protected Areas
An increase in the area of land protected and managed through the National Reserve System, including declared Indigenous Protected Areas in at least:
|The National Reserve System program and the Indigenous Protected Areas program resulted in the addition of 477 000 hectares to the National Reserve System in 2008-09. This brings the total area protected through these programs to 8.3 million hectares. The increase comprised support for the acquisition of 16 properties, covering 147 000 hectares, and declaration of six new Indigenous Protected Areas, covering 330 000 hectares.
There was an increase in the National Reserve System in 14 bioregions. This exceeds the target of increases in 10% of Australia's 85 bioregions. There was an increase in the National Reserve System in nine bioregions (marked * in list below) which have less than 10% reservation. This meets the target of increases in 25% of Australia's 36 under reserved bioregions. The increase in the area of land protected occurred in the following Australian bioregions:
|Maintenance of contribution of Indigenous Protected Areas to the National Reserve System||6 new IPAs were declared, covering 330 000 hectares
64 IPA projects were supported and funded in 2008-09:
|Permits issued include benefit sharing arrangements
10% increase in number of access permits issued with benefit sharing arrangements
|Over 10% increase in the number of permits issued with benefit sharing arrangements|
|Number of researchers supported under the National Taxonomy Research Grant Program1
Minimum of 65 researchers supported
|170 researchers supported|
|Number of projects co-funded with other Agencies
|49 projects co-funded|
|Value of contribution made by other agencies to co-funded projects
For each co-funded project, ≥50% of project funding is received from other agencies
Each co-funded project received ≥50% of project funding from other agencies.
|Number of taxa revised or newly described under the program
200 new species published each year
|412 species either revised or newly described|
|Contribution to tropical wetlands-related research projects and communications activities in the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRaCK) consortium
Collate and transfer Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist's (ERISS) spatial datasets for the Tropical Rivers Region to the TRaCK consortium.
|Data licensing agreements negotiated with supply sources from NT, WA and Qld; data collated and on DVD to TRaCK consortium|
|Complete acquisition of rainfall time series data and remotely sensed radar images for 2007-08 and 2008-09 wet seasons. Provide progress report on methods for determining the extent of flood inundation in the Daly and Mitchell River catchments.||Rainfall time series data and radar images have been acquired. Methods for data analysis have been investigated but not yet reported on.|
|Contribute to strategic planning for management of Kakadu National Park wetlands
Facilitate, in collaboration with other parties, the conduct of workshops on Climate Change and Environmental Risk Assessment for Kakadu wetlands
|Develop a national approach to biodiversity Conservation
Revise the National Biodiversity Strategy and the National Vegetation Framework
|Both reviews made substantial progress. The draft Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-20, was released for public consultation on 23 March 2009.|
|Provide effective incentive mechanisms for public good biodiversity conservation outcomes on private land
Deliver the first two rounds of the Environment Stewardship Program and round two of the Forest Conservation Fund
|Three rounds of the Environmental Stewardship program have been delivered, targeting the Box Gum Grassy Woodlands ecological community.
Two competitive tender rounds have been completed for the Tasmanian Forest Conservation Fund, targeting reserved forest communities and old growth forests.
|Reduced threat of invasive species
The Australian Government endorses the Inter-Governmental Agreement for AusBIOSEC
|The Australian Government determined that the AUSBIOSEC agreement should be re-developed in light of the Beale Review of Australia's Quarantine and Biosecurity. The process for developing and negotiating a new agreement is being lead by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.|
|Number of threat abatement plans
|Of those listed key threats to the land that require a threat abatement plan, the percentage that have threat abatement plans in operation||91%|
|Improved adoption of sustainable on-farm Practices
Establish the level of adoption of sustainable on-farm practices for ongoing monitoring (measured through an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey)
|Approximately half of all businesses with native vegetation, wetlands, or rivers and creeks, reported activities to protect these areas for conservation purposes.
The most common land management practices undertaken by agricultural businesses in 2007-08 were surface water management (74% of agricultural businesses), application of fertiliser (62%) and monitoring ground cover in paddocks (54%).
Of the 75 000 agricultural businesses that prepared land for crops or pastures, 40 000 (53%) reported using zero-tillage.
Of agricultural businesses grazing livestock on crops or pasture, 69% monitor the amount of ground cover in paddocks and 57% of these have established a minimum ground cover target level.
|Establish the level of participation in Landcare, industry or other groups, working to maintain or deliver ecosystem services for public benefit (measured through an ABS survey)||Analysis of data from the Australian Resource Managers Survey (ARMS) demonstrates that over 19% of farmers are members of a landcare group, with Victoria having the highest rates of membership (over 35% of farmers).
(Note: ARMS was commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. ARMS 2007-08, sampled approximately 33 000 agricultural businesses, from a population of approximately 150 000, about land use and land management practices. A full report is available on the ABS website.)
|Improved level of skills, knowledge and engagement of Australian communities
At least 300 community groups engaged in coastal protection and rehabilitation
|Through the 2008-09 Caring for our Country Community Coastcare competitive grants element, 439 projects received $20.2 million, for communities to participate in coastal protection and rehabilitation activities. Over 3000 groups and community members will be engaged through these projects. Community groups, and non-government organisations, represented the highest percentage of successful proponents for small grants up to $50,000 (55%) and larger-scale grants up to $250,000 (35.7%).|
|Increase in the number of Indigenous rangers||Working on Country has increased from the initial 14 projects in 2007-08 (which contracted 92 rangers), to a total of 31 projects in 2008-09 (contracting approximately 190 rangers).|
|Increase in the number of Indigenous rangers trained under nationally accredited land management qualification||Over 125 Indigenous rangers participated in induction, training and transfer of traditional knowledge activities in 2008-09.|
|30 natural resource management facilitators and coordinators appointed in jurisdictions across Australia||33 Caring for our Country Facilitators have been employed and placed in State-based teams. The primary role of facilitators is to help a wide range of stakeholders gain a good understanding of the six priority areas and how to engage with, and participate in, Caring for our Country initiatives.|
|Australia's biodiversity and natural icons are better protected
Increase in area of land protected and managed
|12 286 hectares of critically endangered National Environmentally Significant ecological community have been targeted for protection under the Environmental Stewardship program.|
|Increase in area under environmental contracts or stewardship agreements||141 land owners have entered into contracts to manage Box Gum Grassy Woodland on their property, through the Environmental Stewardship program Land and Coasts|
|Increased uptake of incentives for biodiversity conservation on private land||Caring for our Country projects to address impacts of pest animals and weeds|
|Caring for our Country fully operational
Delivery of election commitments commenced
|Caring for our Country five year outcomes agreed by the Prime Minister||Completed|
|Caring for our Country targets for 2009-10 agreed and published||Completed|
|Caring for our Country 2009-10 Business Plan released||Completed|
1 Correction to name of grant program which was referred to in the 2008-09 DEWHA Portfolio Budget Statement 'ABRS Participatory Grants Program'.
|Administered items|| Budget 2008-09
| Actual Expenses 2008-09
|Appropriation Bill 1|
|A sustainable future for Tasmania - Mole Creek||150||139||11|
|A sustainable future for Tasmania - Tourism Program||289||534||(245)|
|A sustainable future for Tasmania - Private||14,797||14,826||(29)|
|Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) Programme||1,992||1,987||5|
|Community Water Grants||11,197||11,030||167|
|Environmental Stewardship Program||5,328||4,896||432|
|Working on country||7,811||7,750||61|
|Scout Hall Water Saving Infrastructure Programme||5,884||9,457||(3,573)|
|National Heritage Trust - Care for Our Country (Administered)||385,000||396,356||(11,356)|
|Conservation of the land and inland waters||94,105||93,254||851|
|Subtotal for Output Group 1.2||526,571||540,229||(13,658)|
In this section
Links to another web site
Opens a pop-up window