Nature conservation

Protected areas

Conservation Reserves

Protected areas, set aside for conservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, are managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (a division of OEH). These areas play a critical role in protecting biodiversity as well as natural and cultural heritage.

Reserves in NSW protect the State’s range of habitats and ecosystems, plant and animal species, significant geological features and landforms. They also provide shelter for the largest and most diverse collection of cultural heritage on public land. Finally, they conserve areas important to people, such as places of scenic beauty, landscapes and natural features of significance, wilderness areas, wild rivers, water catchments, popular places for nature-based recreation, and icons and sites of national significance.

The NPWS is responsible for protecting the State’s natural and cultural heritage through the creation and management of a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve system, by:

  • establishing strategic priorities for additions to the reserve system
  • assessing, acquiring and gazetting lands for inclusion in the reserve system
  • managing the pressures on reserves, including fire, pest animals and weeds
  • providing opportunities for people to visit and enjoy the reserve system while minimising their impact on its conservation
  • researching, monitoring and evaluating the success of conservation activities 
  • protecting objects, places and sites of Aboriginal and historic heritage significance within the reserve system
  • involving communities in reserve management, including forming co-management partnerships with Aboriginal communities.

An important component of the State's reserve system are the marine protected areas. These include many National Parks and Nature Reserves with marine or estuarine components, as well as Aquatic Reserves and Marine Parks managed by the Marine Estate Management Authority.

Find out more about the following protected area topics

  • Some protected areas can cope fairly easily with different types of human activities while others are more fragile. Read about the different types of reserves in NSW, and the types of activities that are available in them.
  • NPWS now has an establishment plan for the systematic development of its terrestrial reserve system.
  • You can download copies of reserve management documents, including draft and completed park management plans and fire management plans.
  • See NPWS reserve management policies, including mountain biking, photography, soil conservation, firewood, visitor safety and other park management issues.
  • NPWS is working with communities across NSW to establish Aboriginal joint management of parks. Find out about current joint management activities and agreements under negotiation.
  • Get a list of all the new parks and additions to existing reserves established over the last 12 months
  • NPWS keeps a register of information on all leases, easements and rights of way granted on reserves under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
Page last updated: 08 July 2014