Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Thirlmere Lakes National Park: draft plan of management

The Thirlmere Lakes National Park Draft Plan of Management was available for public review and comment.

The exhibition of the draft plan provided an important opportunity for the community to have a say on future management directions for the Thirlmere Lakes National Park.

Questions and Answers

What is a plan of management?

Every national park and reserve established under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 is required to have a plan of management. The plan provides guidance on key conservation and other values of the park, and provides directions for future management. The plan of management is a legal document and all operations and activities in the park must be in accordance with the plan.

Why is a plan being prepared now?

The findings of the Thirlmere Lakes Inquiry and review by the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer recommended that the plan of management for Thirlmere Lakes be reviewed.

The current plan of management was approved in 1997, so it is 17 years old. The draft plan has been substantially updated to take account of new information and plans guiding the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, fire management, a conservation management plan, and new information that has been gathered over the last two years on the water levels of the Thirlmere Lakes. It also covers additional lands that have been added to the reserve.

What has been updated?

The new plan has been updated to reflect the Thirlmere Lakes National Park’s status as a part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, new information on the biology and hydrology of the park and the relevant findings of the Thirlmere Lakes Inquiry.

What opportunities will the community have to comment?

The draft plan of management was on public exhibition until 1 March 2015 and the public were invited to make comment.

When will the plan of management be finalised?

At the conclusion of the public exhibition period in March 2015, all submissions will be comprehensively reviewed and input sought from the Metro South West Regional Advisory Committee and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council, as required by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Once all comments have been considered a final plan will be considered for adoption by the Minister for the Environment.

What were the findings of the Thirlmere Lakes Inquiry?

The Independent Committee found that most of the changes in the water levels in Thirlmere Lakes over the past 40 years are due to climatic variations such as droughts and floods.

However, their overall finding was that there is still much unknown about the lakes and their geomorphology and hydrology, and without this information, the exact cause of decreasing water levels in Thirlmere Lakes remains unknown.

While there was no direct evidence that longwall mining is impacting on lake levels, further investigation is required to make a firm conclusion.

The inquiry report shows that there is evidence of groundwater leakage from the lakes towards the east and north-east within the Hawkesbury Sandstone aquifers.

The report demonstrates that, despite the large amount of information compiled, it is not currently possible to disentangle groundwater changes due to mining, from those due to bores, and natural events such as droughts and floods.

Further information on the inquiry can be found at:

Where are things up to with implementing the Inquiry recommendations?

A new monitoring system has been established to provide the community with near real time information on water levels and climatic conditions in Thirlmere Lakes National Park. Monitoring data is available to the public via the website of the Office of Water.


Led by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), an inter-agency working group was established, which includes scientists from the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer, OEH, the Office of Water and the Sydney Catchment Authority. The working group is overseeing the establishment of the new monitoring program which is funded by OEH (National Parks and Wildlife Service) and implemented by the Office of Water.

Public consultation

Public exhibition for this document was from 1 November 2014 to 1 March 2015.

Public consultation for this document has ended.

The format and structure of this publication may have been adapted for web delivery.

Page last updated: 29 September 2017