3. Planning for effective management
- More than 80 per cent of the NSW park system is now covered by a publicly exhibited draft or approved plan of management.
- The number of adopted plans of management has more than doubled since the 2004 State of the Parks report.
- Regional operations plans are prioritising how actions from plans of management and all other planning documents are implemented on the ground for all NSW parks.
- Regional pest management strategies have been developed covering all NSW parks.
- A Fire Management Strategy is in place for all parks and reserves where a fire management strategy is required.
- Planning for visitation for all NSW parks has been considered in the development of branch visitation management plans.
Planning is a critical step in the park management cycle. Forward planning allows resources to be targeted at the places and times where they will achieve the greatest results. This ensures park management is efficient and effective.
DECCW prepares a wide range of management plans. These may be for individual parks or sites, for all parks within a region, or for the state as a whole. Types of plan include plans of management, regional operations plans, reserve fire management strategies, regional pest management strategies and branch visitation management plans. These plans allow a strategic, consistent way of setting priorities and tracking our progress. By evaluating management outcomes using measures such as those presented in this State of the Parks report, DECCW builds knowledge and improves planning, ensuring continual improvement.
A plan of management is a legal document prepared for a park under the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. It is prepared as soon as possible after reservation and outlines how a park will be managed in the years ahead. These plans consider the regional management context and principal values of the park. They also identify the desired outcomes for management and the strategies required to achieve them.
The number of adopted plans of management has more than doubled since 2004. In June 2010, 418 parks, representing almost 75 per cent of the NSW park system's area, had an adopted plan of management (Figure 2) with a further 8.9 percent of the park system (100 parks) having a plan of management on public exhibition prior to adoption. This represents a considerable increase since 2004 when only 195 parks (56% of the park system) had an adopted plan of management. Those parks that have not yet commenced work on a plan of management are often recently gazetted parks or small nature reserves. We have a three year forward program that identifies high priority plans for action.
Figure 2: Cumulative number of parks covered by an adopted plan of management in June 2010.
Community input remains an important part of preparing a plan of management. This occurs through discussions with the community and a public exhibition of all new plans. Regional Advisory Committees and the state-wide National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council also provide input into the development of draft plans of management for parks and reserves.
Selected plans of management are audited each year to establish the extent to which actions have been implemented. This is intended to strengthen the principle of accountability for specific actions and is based on the process outlined in the IUCN Best Practice protected area guidelines for evaluating management effectiveness. Recent audits indicate that parks are being managed in accordance with plans of management and that most actions within these plans are being either fully or substantially implemented.
Fire management, Mount Colah
DECCW continues to look at ways to improve how planned management is implemented and how emerging issues are addressed. A key way in which this is achieved is through the development of Regional Operations Plans. A standardised approach to these plans was established across the state in mid 2008. These internal documents prioritise how actions from plans of management and all other planning documents are implemented during a prescribed planning period, generally a single financial year, with forward planning for three years ahead. These plans are ensuring the most important management issues for the park system are being addressed.
DECCW is one of the state's four designated fire fighting authorities and works in close partnership with other NSW fire authorities (NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Fire Brigades and Forests NSW) to prevent, prepare, respond and recover from bushfires. Fire management planning is one of the most important tasks in managing the parks system. The management of fire on parks includes the detection and suppression of fires and the implementation of risk prevention programs to protect life and property. Fire management is integrated with other aspects of protected area management and with fire management planning undertaken on adjacent land and across the landscape.
Fire management planning in NSW parks occurs primarily through the development of reserve fire management strategies. These are generally map-based plans that define the management approaches for either individual parks or groups of parks. DECCW consults widely with local communities, bush fire management committees, rural fire brigades and other interested parties in the preparation of fire management plans and strategies.
A fire management strategy is in place for 774 parks and reserves. Fire management strategies are in preparation for recently gazetted parks and reserves (47 parks) including for the River Red Gum and the Goulburn CRA parks and reserves. In June 2010, 583 separate fire management strategies have been adopted. Note that some plans cover multiple parks while other parks are subdivided into fire management zones and therefore are covered by multiple strategies (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Cumulative number of adopted reserve fire management strategies across the NSW park system.
Burton's legless lizard in spinifex, Ledknapper Nature Reserve (Image: C O'Brien/DECCW)
Pest species are animals (including invertebrates) and plants that have negative environmental, economic and social impacts. Pests are most commonly introduced species, though native species can become pests. In parks, pests may have impacts across the range of park values, including impacts on biodiversity, cultural heritage, catchment and scenic values.
Regional pest management strategies have been developed for all NSW parks. These plans are established to provide a strategic approach to pest management for different parts of the state for the planning period between 2008 and 2011. The strategy developed for each region:
- provides a tool to broadly identify pest distribution and associated impacts across the park system
- details priorities including actions listed in the Priority Action Statements and Threat Abatement Plans
- identifies other actions, such as wild dog and feral pig control to protect neighbouring properties and site-based weed control.
These strategies recognise that pest species (both pest animals and weeds) are a problem across the landscape. They aim to maximise the effectiveness of pest control programs, particularly through cooperative programs with neighbours and others across the region. Programs are developed and often carried out in collaboration with neighbours, other government agencies, rural lands protection boards, local councils, regional pest committees, universities and community groups.
The aim is to apply best-practice, humane, cost-effective pest control methods, which have minimal impact on the environment. This requires careful planning. Often a range of techniques are used at critical times of the year and target more than one species.
In 2006, DECCW released Living Parks, a sustainable visitation strategy that provides broad strategic direction and establishes principles for sustainable visitation to the NSW park system. It sets state-wide priorities and identifies actions to achieve them. Branch visitation management plans consider visitation requirements for all NSW parks and help to implement this strategy.
Each plan responds to the targets and actions highlighted in the NSW State Plan, which seeks to encourage more people to use parks, sporting and recreational facilities, and participating in the arts and cultural activity. This includes achieving a 20% increase in the number of visits to NSW Government parks and reserves by 2016. Other relevant State Plan priorities include:
- increased business investment, with a target to increase tourist visitation to NSW by 10 million visitor nights by 2016
- increased participation and integration in community activities, with a target to increase the proportion of the total community involved in volunteering, group sporting and recreational activity, or group cultural and artistic activity by 10% by 2016
- increased customer satisfaction with Government services.
In developing these plans, DECCW is guided by the following visitation management goals: park values (natural, cultural and social) are protected and conserved; people are encouraged to visit parks; people appreciate and understand parks and their values; visitors have a diverse range of opportunities to enjoy parks; and excellence in visitor management is achieved.
- Continue to develop a strategy to prioritise preparing plans of management in parks that do not yet have an adopted plan.
- Develop a 'planning information management system', which captures all actions proposed in park management plans and supports the ongoing development of regional operation plans.
- Develop and implement a 'Sustainable tourism and recreation strategy', which provides a state-wide approach to prioritising sustainable tourism and recreation activities.
- Continue to audit plans to determine how well they are being implemented.
Page last updated: 03 March 2011