Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006
ISSN 1441 9335
Managing the department (continued)
This section is presented in accordance with the requirements of section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Section 516A requires government departments to report on:
- how the department’s activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (subsection 6a)
- how the department’s outcomes contribute to ecologically sustainable development (subsection 6b)
- the environmental impacts of the department’s operations during the year, and measures taken to minimise the impacts (subsections 6c, d and e).
The principles of ecologically sustainable development1 are central to the department’s environment and natural heritage protection activities, all of which aim to conserve biodiversity and ecological integrity, and to maintain the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for the benefit of future generations.
The department administers the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997, both of which explicitly recognise these principles.
Examples of how the department applies the principles of ecologically sustainable development are summarised in the table below. More details on specific programmes are contained in other chapters of this annual report.
The Department of the Environment and Heritage is the lead Australian Government agency for developing and implementing national policy, programmes and legislation to protect and conserve the natural environment. One of the key functions of the department is to promote and support ecologically sustainable development.
The department’s outcomes contribute to ecologically sustainable development as follows:
Outcome 1: Protecting and conserving the environment helps to maintain the ecological processes on which life depends.
Outcome 2: Australia’s Antarctic interests include a strong focus on protecting the Antarctic environment, as well as managing the sustainable use of Antarctic marine resources.
|Integration principle: decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations||Integrated natural resource management: develops and invests in natural resource management plans and other strategies for integrating management based on the need to maintain ecosystems, including the regional component of the Natural Heritage Trust and regional marine plans. These plans integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations
Integrated reporting: publishes its own triple bottom line report (renamed sustainability report) and State of the Environment report
|Precautionary principle: if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation||Environmental impact assessments: applies the precautionary principle to prevent serious environmental damage when assessing the possible environmental impacts of proposed actions, often in the absence of full scientific certainty, most notably through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and through chemical and gene technology assessment schemes
National response to climate change: develops Australia’s national and international response to the threat of climate change in the absence of full scientific certainty, and manages for uncertainty, including preparing Australia for unavoidable climate change impacts
|Intergenerational principle: the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations||Pollution prevention: applies laws and other national measures to prevent environmentally harmful substances from entering the environment, notably the various national environment protection measures, the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981, the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989, and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989
Whole-of-government policy development: advocates environmental protection in the development of other Australian Government policies, including major energy and water reforms
Community capacity building: administers the Australian Government’s major natural resource management programmes that have an environmental focus, including the Natural Heritage Trust. These programmes increase the capacity of Australians to conserve ecosystems for future generations
|Biodiversity principle: the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making||Biodiversity conservation: applies laws for the conservation of biodiversity to protect wildlife and places with environmental values, including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and through the Natural Heritage Trust, marine protected areas, terrestrial parks and reserves|
|Valuation principle: improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted||Conservation incentives: promotes incentives for protecting wildlife and habitats on private land through covenants. Supports fishing industry adjustment processes to reduce pressures on the marine environment
Waste reduction incentives: provides incentives for more efficient uses of resources, including markets for waste products such as used lubricating oils, water efficiency labelling, and product stewardship programmes to reduce plastic bag consumption and to recycle used oil
The department is a strong advocate of environmental accountability and sustainability reporting. The department reports in detail on its environmental, social and economic performance in a sustainability report (previously called a triple bottom line report). Reporting is in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative sustainability reporting (see www.globalreporting.org).
The following section summarises the environmental performance of the department’s operations during the year. It covers how the department is minimising the environmental impacts of its operations, and is increasing the effectiveness of the measures it takes to minimise its environmental impacts.
The department reports on the environmental impacts of four major operational areas:
- head office in the John Gorton Building and the Edmund Barton Building in Canberra
- Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart and the Australian Antarctic Territory
- Parks Australia Division
- Supervising Scientist Division in Darwin.
The department will be publishing its sustainability report for 2005–06 later in the year. The Sustainability Report will contain more detailed information on the department’s environmental performance and goals. Information on last year’s Triple Bottom Line Report can also be obtained at www.deh.gov.au/about/publications/tbl/04-05/index.html.
John Gorton Building and Edmund Barton Building
- The department’s environmental management system, which covers the department’s Canberra-based operations, was recertified in May 2006 to the upgraded international environmental management system standard ISO14001:2004.
- The department’s environmental management system moved from a paper-based to electronic system, in order to streamline maintenance, reporting and scheduling of environmental objectives, targets and activities.
- A contract was let for the supply and installation of upgraded electricity metering in part of the John Gorton Building and the Communications Centre.
- Total tenant light and power consumption was up by six per cent from last year (1 687 601 kWh compared to 1 782 875 kWh).
- Electricity consumption per person per year was 11 per cent higher, rising from 4 849 megajoules to 5 376 megajoules. The department’s consumption is still well below the Australian Government energy use target of 10 000 MJ/pp/pa.
- The department continued purchasing 100 per cent accredited green power for the John Gorton Building.
- A water audit of the John Gorton Building conducted in 2005 indicated that, while the department’s performance was above average for comparable office-based operations, further improvement can be achieved. The audit recommendations are being implemented.
- General waste sent to landfill decreased by four per cent from 45 to 43.5 tonnes in 2005–06.
- Recycled waste comprising paper, cardboard, commingled and organic material increased by seven per cent from 134 to 144 tonnes.
- Greenhouse gas emissions are up 14 per cent from last year (637 compared to 544 kilograms per person per year).
- Membership of the Environmentally Conscious Officer Network (ECONet) support group is now 18 strong, the highest it has been, following the recruitment of six new members and despite the loss of three members moving to other areas.
Australian Antarctic Division
- The divisions’ environmental management system was recertified to meet the requirements of the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004 in September 2005. This system has operated since 2002 and the current certification is due to expire in September 2008.
- The division’s environmental policy was reviewed in September 2005 and reissued.
- An internal environmental audit programme was instituted. Regular audits will be conducted of all major activity groups of the division.
- An inventory of all the division’s environmental training was prepared for 2006–07 and will be reviewed annually.
- A controlled document system was implemented across the division in August 2005. This system will ensure that all controlled documents are reviewed regularly.
- The Kingston, Tasmania offices consumed 3.86 million kWh of electricity.
- The Kingston offices consumed 6 216 kilolitres of water, unchanged from last year.
- The division reused or recycled 26 per cent of waste, landfilled 27 per cent and treated and disposed of 47 per cent of all waste.
- The warehouse ordered 3 897 reams of A4 and A3 paper on behalf of the Kingston office and stations.
Parks Australia Division
- Plans of management for individual protected areas include environmental management goals.
- The Australian National Botanic Gardens introduced a computerised water management system and has met water restrictions for the past three years.
- Several parks have water metering: Booderee National Park consumed 15 270 kilolitres of water (up 39 per cent), Kakadu National Park headquarters consumed 35 830 kilolitres and the Australian National Botanic Gardens consumed 166 356 kilolitres (up 14 per cent).
- At Booderee National Park, where statistics are available, 1 200 cubic metres of waste was recycled.
- Available data suggests staff used eight reams of paper per person per year, up from 6.5 reams last year.
- Electricity use was reduced from last year by nearly eight per cent across Parks Australia Division, largely due to more efficient cooling systems.
Supervising Scientist Division
- The division reviewed how scientific research activities can be incorporated into the draft environmental management system, and implemented an action plan to track achievement of the goals set in the 2004–05 Triple Bottom Line report against the Global Reporting Initiatives.
- Electricity usage by the Darwin and Jabiru offices and Parks Australia North Darwin office increased by four per cent from last year due to the increased number of occupants, while the total megajoules per person decreased by six per cent.
- Fuel usage (transport and other usage) was reduced by 17.7 per cent and distance travelled by vehicles decreased by 18.3 per cent for the same period last year.
- Water usage at the Darwin office increased from 724 kilolitres last year to 1 403 kilolitres this year, partly because of an increase in aquaculture work in the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist.
- It is the division’s practice, where possible, to purchase ‘green’ stationery and toiletry products rather than standard products.
- The division used 20.2 per cent less paper this year than last year, exceeding the 10 per cent target set in the 2004–05 Triple Bottom Line report. This was achieved through reusing paper printed on one side, installing duplex trays in printers for double-sided printing, encouraging staff to edit documents on screen, and disseminating information electronically.
- There was also a 40.4 per cent reduction in the use of non-recycled paper, and an 8.5 per cent reduction in partly recycled paper.
- Greenhouse gas emissions this year are down by almost 380 tonnes or 33 per cent (1 202.5 tonnes in 2004–05 compared to 822.67 tonnes in 2005–06). The lower emissions can be attributed to lower fuel usage, reduced distance travelled by vehicles and less waste produced on site.
- To reduce landfill waste, staff sort waste including toner cartridges, glass, paper and plastic products into recycle bins. Organic waste is recycled through the worm farm established to provide live feed for breeding populations of fish (purple spotted gudgeon) used for research purposes.
1 The principles of ecologically sustainable development are set out in sections 3A and (in the case of the precautionary principle) 391 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.