It is my great pleasure to present New South Wales State of the Environment 2009. This report has been prepared by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water with information provided from across government and guidance from the State of the Environment Advisory Council and independent experts.
NSW State of the Environment 2009 is a comprehensive report that details the condition of major environmental issues across the state and assesses environmental trends, including implications for the environment and human health. SoE 2009 considers the pressures that can have an impact on the environment and outlines the key responses that have been implemented to address them. It also gives us a unique overview from which we can better identify areas for continued or further work. SoE 2009 is a valuable resource for the community and policy-makers alike.
Since the last SoE Report in 2006, there have been a number of significant environmental outcomes, including:
- ongoing improvements in the management of native vegetation across NSW which has reduced approved clearing rates to less than 4000 hectares per year
- a continued holding of the line on air quality levels despite increases in our population
- further protection of our diverse ecosystems, with an additional 3.5% of reserve added to our world-class national park system in the last three years
- finalisation of the zoning plans for two new marine parks, Port Stephens–Great Lakes and Batemans, to further protect and enhance our marine environment
- a significant increase in land protected for Aboriginal cultural values.
These positive outcomes and more are detailed throughout the seven chapters of the report.
Although the continuing drought poses challenges for managing our precious water supplies, the State Government and the people of NSW are rising to meet these demands through implementation of a number of water efficiency and recycling measures. These measures have seen water savings of approximately 76 gigalitres a year since 1999–2000, with a continued reduction in urban water consumption per person per day from 343 litres in 2004–05 to 306 L in 2007–08. The active participation of the general community in watching its water use and Government measures to secure water supplies have helped deliver these valuable savings. The Government's commitment to the allocation of water for the environment has also been demonstrated through the purchase of numerous water licences to enable water releases to some of our most stressed inland rivers and wetlands.
Since the last SoE Report, the real threats associated with climate change have become key issues of concern across the globe. There is an urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions to help ease the impact of climate change on our environment into the future. While NSW has taken a leadership role in many issues associated with climate change, including the design and implementation of a number of programs to help communities and the environment adapt to climate change, there is still more work to do. This undoubtedly remains one of our most significant challenges. Continued development and implementation of renewable and sustainable technologies for energy use and transport will help to reduce our carbon footprint in the future.
Finally, this report demonstrates the real need for all of us to achieve a balance between sustainability and consumption, and so reduce the growth of our ecological footprint and the impacts on the state's natural resources and environment. With the population of NSW expected to reach 9.1 million by 2036, ensuring continued positive community attitudes and actions towards recycling and conserving resources will play a vital role in the health of our environment.
In collaboration with the community, industry, landholders and other stakeholders, the Government is committed to tackling these and other emerging pressures, while continuing the good work in maintaining our ongoing commitments to the environment.
I wish to thank all those involved in the preparation of the report and all those who contribute to maintaining a healthy environment in NSW.
Minister for Climate Change and the Environment