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National parks and other protected areas are areas of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection of biodiversity and other natural and cultural resources. They are established under Commonwealth, state or territory laws or other legal means. All governments participate in the development of a comprehensive, adequate and representative national reserve system as part of Australia's obligation under the United Nations Biodiversity Convention established in 1993. Most national parks and other protected areas in Australia are declared and managed by state and territory governments, although the establishment of protected areas managed by conservation or other groups commenced within the last decade. Declaration and management of Indigenous protected areas, Indigenous-owned land that is managed to protect its natural and associated cultural values, commenced in 1998. The Australian Government declares and manages parks and reserves on land owned or leased by the Commonwealth, in Commonwealth waters and on Indigenous land leased to the Commonwealth.
For those who had not visited a World Heritage area, national or state park in the 12 months prior to March 2001, lack of time was given as the main reason by 36% of the people (graph 12.3). Inability to visit because of age or health was the next most common reason for not visiting these areas (17%).