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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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Contents >> Environment >> Nature conservation



Australia has a long history of establishing and managing conservation reserves, such as national parks. Recently there has been greater attention placed on the establishment of programs are aimed at conserving habitats and species on private land. This is significant because almost 63% of all land in Australia is privately owned. Around 23% of land is publicly owned, with the remainder owned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (AUSLIG 1993). Information is presented on public conservation reserves as well as initiatives designed to promote conservation on private land, including the activities of non-government organisations involved in nature conservation.

Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database

The Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD) records the area of conservation reserves in each state and territory, using the World Conservation Union (IUCN) classification system of protected areas (Environment Australia 2003a). The classification system comprises seven categories based on the main (or primary) management intent of protected areas as follows:
    • IA - Strict nature reserve: managed mainly for science
    • IB - Wilderness area: wilderness protection
    • II - National park: ecosystem conservation and recreation
    • III - National monument: conservation of specific natural features
    • IV - Habitat/species management area: conservation through management intervention
    • V - Protected landscape/seascape: landscape/seascape conservation and recreation
    • VI - Managed resource protected areas: sustainable use of natural ecosystems.

Table 24.42 shows the amount of protected land in each IUCN category by state and territory. Most of the land recorded in CAPAD is public land.


24.42 PROTECTED AREAS, By state and territory - December 2002

IUCN category

IA
IB
II
III
IV
V
VI
Total(a)

AREA ('000 ha)

New South Wales
735
1,546
(b)2,957
1
48
5
22
(c)5,336
Victoria
224
202
2,778
70
46
-
104
3,424
Queensland
21
-
6,663
35
52
1
348
7,120
South Australia
(d)6,812
2,216
2,645
187
1,890
506
10,988
25,244
Western Australia
10,810
-
5,929
74
15
1
10,340
27,169
Tasmania
21
-
1,505
18
174
91
744
2,550
Northern Territory
44
-
(e)6,164
7
-
185
90
6,490
Australian Capital Territory
-
-
128
-
-
-
-
128
Australia
(d)18,668
3,963
28,767
391
2,225
789
22,636
(c)77,462

PROPORTION (%)

New South Wales
0.9
1.9
3.7
-
0.1
-
-
6.7
Victoria
1.0
0.9
12.2
0.3
0.2
-
0.5
15.0
Queensland
-
-
3.9
-
0.0
-
0.2
4.1
South Australia
6.9
2.3
2.7
0.2
1.9
0.5
11.2
25.7
Western Australia
4.3
-
2.4
0.3
0.1
-
4.1
10.8
Tasmania
0.3
-
22.0
0.3
2.5
1.3
10.9
37.3
Northern Territory
-
-
4.6
-
-
0.1
0.1
4.8
Australian Capital Territory
-
-
54.4
-
-
-
-
54.4
Australia
2.4
0.5
3.7
0.1
0.3
0.1
2.9
10.1

(a) Column and row totals may not tally exactly due to rounding.
(b) Includes 6,000 ha which are Commonwealth-managed National Parks.
(c) Includes 23,000 ha to be advised.
(d) Includes 565,000 ha of Heritage Agreement Areas.
(e) Includes 2,113,000 ha which are Commonwealth-managed National Parks.
Source: Environment Australia 2003b - 2003j.


Conservation on private land

Private land occupies around 4.8 million square kilometres or 63% of Australia's land mass (AUSLIG 1993). A number of programs have been developed to increase the amount of area of private land dedicated to nature conservation. These programs are administered by state government departments and non-government organisations (NGOs). Some NGOs operate within a single state while others operate throughout Australia. Table 24.43 describes the different programs or mechanisms for implementing conservation on private land.

Consideration is being given to including in CAPAD data from several state and territory government operated programs as well as those operated by NGOs, for example, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Birds Australia, Australian Bush Heritage Fund and Earth Sanctuaries Limited.



24.43 PRIVATE LAND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS/MECHANISMS

Program/
mechanism
DescriptionStates/territories where programs/mechanisms operate

Land acquisitionLand is acquired through purchase or bequest and gazetted or proclaimed as a new, or addition to an existing, nature conservation reserve. They are managed in accordance with nature conservation objectives.NSW, Vic., Qld, SA, WA, Tas., NT

Conservation covenantsA covenant placed upon a property through agreement between the land holder and relevant organisation. It is usually voluntary, binding in perpetuity and registered on the land title, however it may expire with a lease. They aim to protect natural values of the area which is reflected in the management which subsequently occurs. Often a management agreement for the property is negotiated in association with the covenant attachment.NSW, Vic., Qld, SA, WA, Tas., NT

Revolving fundsLand is purchased by an organisation, a conservation covenant attached, and the property sold to provide revenue for future land purchases.NSW, Vic., Qld, SA, WA

Non-binding agreementsVoluntary programs which invite landholders to register their property and receive information and advice regarding ecologically-sound land management. They aim to integrate conservation with other land management objectives.
Also, included in this category are management agreements which offer landholders payments to carry out restoration works that conserve important conservation areas, but do not necessarily protect the land in perpetuity.
NSW, Vic., Qld, WA, Tas., NT

Source: ABS data available on request, Environment Collection.


The data contained in the latest version of CAPAD (CAPAD 2002) does not include a significant amount of areas registered under these programs. One of the reasons for this was that majority of programs did not conform easily to the IUCN categories and/or the information was not available when CAPAD 2002 was being formulated. However, some information from the following programs was included, for example: South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) Heritage Agreements and Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment covenants, as implemented through the Private Forest Reserves Program. Some information from land acquisition programs was also included from: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Sustainability and Environment; Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, South Australian DEH; Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management.

National NGOs

Many NGOs are involved in obtaining private land and implementing programs to conserve flora and fauna, habitats and ecosystems. Most are non-profit, rely on volunteers for administration and on-ground works, and obtain finance through government funding, public donations and bequests. Some examples of major environmental organisations that have increased the amount of private land managed for nature conservation in more than one state or territory are presented in table 24.44.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is a charitable organisation that was established in 1991, when Karakamia sanctuary in the Perth Hills was purchased (AWC 2003). At June 2002, AWC owned 10 sanctuaries (table 24.44) including properties in: Western Australia (five), South Australia (three), Queensland (one), and New South Wales (one). Five reserves were purchased in 2001-02, comprising a total area of 123,624 ha (AWC 2002).

Birds Australia began as the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU) in 1901. It is dedicated to the conservation, study and enjoyment of Australia's native birds and their habitats (Birds Australia 2003a). The organisation owns two former pastoral leases, Gluepot (South Australia) and Newhaven (Northern Territory) (table 24.44).

The Australian Bush Heritage Fund was established in 1990 to acquire land of high conservation significance using funding provided by public donations and funding organisations (BHT 2002, 2003). In June 2002, the organisation had 12 reserves in four states (table 24.44) (BHT 2002). However, the addition of one property covering 68,619 ha in Western Australia in January 2003 boosted the total to 129,964 ha (R. Leeman, Australian Bush Heritage Fund, 2003, pers. comm. 11 March 2003). This property is now called the Charles Darwin Reserve.


Earth Sanctuaries Limited (ESL) is a publicly listed conservation company that purchases land which they actively manage for conservation by eradicating feral pests, erecting feral-proof fencing and implementing revegetation programs (ESL 2003a). At June 2002 the organisation owned Little River Earth Sanctuary (Victoria) and managed Hanson Bay (Kangaroo Island, South Australia) (table 24.44) (ESL 2003b, 2003c). In May 2003, ESL purchased Waratah Park (Sydney) (ESL 2003d).


24.44 AREAS OF CONSERVATION ESTATE OWNED AND MANAGED BY MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANISATIONS - 2002

State
Australian Wildlife
Conservancy
Birds
Australia
Australian Bush
Heritage Fund
Earth Sanctuaries
Limited

New South Wales
65,000
-
963
12
Queensland
38,000
-
59,615
-
Victoria
-
-
-
1,200
South Australia
20,624
54,390
-
(a)34
Western Australia
450,066
-
(b)389
-
Tasmania
-
-
417
-
Northern Territory
-
262,600
-
-
Australian Capital Territory
-
-
-
-
Total
573,690
316,990
(b)61,384
(a)1,246

(a) Does not include the 3,960 ha reserve managed but not owned in South Australia.
(b) An additional 69,008 ha reserve was purchased in January 2003.
Source: AWC 2002; BHT 2002; Birds Australia 2003b; Birds Australia 2003c; B. Jackson, Earth Sanctuaries Limited, 2003, pers. comm., 26 June 2003.


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