About SoE 2009
New South Wales State of the Environment 2009 (SoE 2009) reports on the status of the main environmental issues facing the state. It has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of section 10 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991. This is the seventh report prepared by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) and its predecessors with reports published in 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
SoE 2009 aims to provide credible, scientifically based, statewide environmental information to assist those involved in environmental policy- and decision-making and managing the state's natural resources.
SoE 2009 is structured around seven major themes: People and the Environment, Climate Change, Human Settlement, Atmosphere, Land, Water and Biodiversity. Thirty environmental issues are reported on within these themes with data and information addressing 86 environmental indicators. The majority of these indicators are consistent with those covered in previous reports, and they align closely with the core environmental indicators approved by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council in March 2000. Some of the indicators have been further refined since SoE 2006 to ensure clearer definitions and to be consistent with those developed for reporting against the statewide natural resource targets.
SoE 2009 is prepared following the Pressure – State (or condition) – Response (PSR) framework originally developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development for state of the environment reporting. 'Pressure' refers to activities that can affect the environment and are not limited to those that result from human influences. 'State' (or condition) refers to the quality of the environment and the functioning of important environmental processes. 'Responses' are actions or initiatives that have been implemented to address the environmental condition or pressure that is having an impact on an environmental issue.
Although SoE 2009 has been prepared by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW), much of the material it contains comes from extensive input from a wide range of government agencies, other organisations and individual specialists who have provided data, information, analysis and interpretation, and have reviewed the content of the report. DECCW relies heavily on support from contributing agencies.
The specialist input also includes the advice and support of independent experts as well as members of the NSW State of the Environment Advisory Council, which in 2007 was formed as a subcommittee of the Environment Protection Authority Board. As in previous reports, the Minister for Climate Change and the Environment has invited the advisory council to prepare an open letter on the preparation of SoE 2006 and this is included.
Indicator ratings and summaries
SoE 2009 assesses each environmental indicator's current status, its trend since SoE 2006 and the availability of information used to make an assessment against the indicator. The status and trend ratings depend on the extent and appropriateness of available information, both qualitative and quantitative, and the information availability rating signifies the level of information used to make the assessment.
Indicator status refers to the environmental condition of the indicator:
Green is used if the data for the indicator is considered to show a generally positive or healthy environmental condition.
Yellow indicates that the condition is neither positive nor negative. This could be that the data demonstrates a moderate overall status or that the results are mixed across different areas of the state.
Red is used if the available data shows that there is generally a poor environmental condition or if the condition is under significant stress.
Grey is used where there is insufficient information to make an assessment.
The indicator trend describes the direction of significant change in environmental condition, and is generally judged over the reporting period between SoE 2006 and SoE 2009. In the future changes in the indicator trend may have an impact on the overall status of the indicator. The following descriptors have been used in SoE 2009:
Improving – the trend in the condition of the indicator is good and getting better
No change – there has been no significant change in the condition of the indicator
Stabilising – a declining trend in the condition of the indicator has slowed
Recovering – the condition of the indicator is poor or fair, but improving
Deteriorating – the condition of the indicator is getting worse from whatever status
Unknown – there is not enough information to show a trend for the indicator
Information availability describes the statewide extent, condition and 'fitness for use' of the data used for the indicator. Information availability is represented by the following symbols:
– good, meaning that there is sufficient data and information on a statewide basis and is of a high standard
– reasonable: there is some data and information on a statewide basis of a reasonable standard
– limited: there is little data or information on a statewide basis.
Where there is insufficient suitable data or information to make a judgement, the status or trend may be considered not assessable.