Nature conservation

Protected areas

The different types of parks & reserves

There are 865 national parks and reserves (as at 30 June 2013) in NSW. Some of these protected areas can cope fairly easily with different types of human activities. Others are more fragile, and need a higher level of protection. This is one of the reasons why there are different categories of protected areas. In addition to the national parks and reserves there are also marine parks (managed by NSW Marine Parks) and aquatic reserves (managed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries).

Read on to find out about the main types of protected areas in NSW, and the types of activities that are available in them.

National parks
These are areas protected for their unspoiled landscapes and native plants and animals. They are set aside for conservation and public enjoyment, and usually offer visitor facilities. See a list of all national parks in NSW.

Nature reserves
These are areas of special scientific and conservation interest, set up mainly to protect their native plant and animal communities. Few have visitor facilities. See a list of all nature reserves in NSW.

State conservation areas
These are parks, often containing important natural environments, which have been set aside for conservation, public enjoyment and potential exploration. See a list of all state conservation areas in NSW.

Regional parks
These parks offer open spaces for recreational use and cultural activities. Their environments have often been largely altered since colonisation. See a list of regional parks in NSW.

Marine parks
Marine parks are managed by NSW Marine Parks.

Aquatic reserves
Aquatic reserves are managed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Aboriginal areas
These are places that have significance for Aboriginal people, or contain objects of Aboriginal culture. They're managed in accordance with the cultural values of the Aboriginal people whose heritage they belong to. See a list of all Aboriginal areas in NSW.

Historic sites
These are sites of national cultural importance. They include buildings, objects, monuments and landscapes. Historic sites are generally open to visitors. See a list of all historic sites in NSW.

Karst conservation reserves
These are outstanding cave areas that offer unique experiences with their spectacular beauty and stunning surroundings. They include Jenolan, Wombeyan, Abercrombie and Borenore caves.

Community conservation areas
Community conservation areas are multiple-use protected areas that are widely used throughout the world to allow for improved conservation outcomes while providing for the sustainable use of natural resources.

Other information

Other types of protected areas
See information on Wilderness, Wild Rivers, Ramsar wetlands, World Heritage, National Heritage and more.

Healthy Parks Healthy People
Let your senses come alive! Breathe in the fresh air and take in the scenery as you explore nature on a bushwalk, jog along an unspoiled beach or tackle a mountain bike trail.

State of the parks
State of the parks reporting provides a snapshot of the condition and management of the NSW park system in a publicly accessible way.

Page last updated: 26 February 2014