7.5 Working with and involving the community
- The number of park managers reporting an established and regular process for community consultation has more than doubled since 2004.
- The number of park managers reporting an established, regular process of consultation with Aboriginal communities to support park management has more than tripled since 2004.
- As at 30 June 2010, there were 18 formal joint management agreements in place with Aboriginal communities covering 23 per cent of the NSW park system.
- At least 3800 volunteers contribute more than 172,000 volunteer hours to assist in park management activities each year.
As the managers of the NSW park system for the people of NSW, DECCW prioritises the facilitation of community involvement in park management. There are numerous ways in which DECCW engages with the community. Some of these are very localised and informal, including interactions with neighbours to establish and maintain boundary fences and manage pests and weeds. DECCW also coordinates numerous volunteer opportunities within parks. Other interactions are more formal, such as through the establishment of joint management agreements for park management or through the development of Regional Advisory Committees which provide DECCW with an ongoing process to tap into community knowledge and expertise to guide the future of the park system.
Interest groups and communities have knowledge and experience that continue to contribute to the effective management of parks. DECCW wants to provide community members with a range of different ways in which they can contribute to park management. This includes: formal and informal consultation processes, such as on upcoming management actions or plans; joint management arrangements; and facilitating opportunities for volunteers.
Given the range of values managed by DECCW, and the diversity of landscapes where parks occur, there is also a variety of stakeholders with interests in parks. Not surprisingly, neighbours continue to be the group identified by park managers as having the most interest in park management issues. Other groups with an interest in park management include local Aboriginal communities, state government organisations such as the Rural Fire Service, NSW Forests and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities, recreational user groups, local residents and businesses, local councils and conservation groups.
The two most commonly reported issues of interaction with the community are fire management and management planning. Pest animal management, access to the reserve, management of reserve values, weed management and consultation and involvement with Aboriginal communities are, respectively, the next most commonly reported issues of interest to stakeholders. In most cases, park managers advise that the relationship between interest groups and DECCW is largely positive, with improvements in the relationship since 2004 for issues such as involvement with Aboriginal communities.
Memorandum of Understanding, Yarriabini National Park
Regional Advisory Committees provide an important link between DECCW and the community. Members are appointed by the Minister to provide advice on the protection, management, appreciation and enjoyment of parks and reserves. There are 14 regional advisory committees across New South Wales, plus a special committee for Hartley Historic Site.
The number of park managers reporting an established, regular process of consultation with Aboriginal communities to support park management has more than tripled since 2004. A further 147 parks are reported as having established and regular consultation processes appropriate to the Aboriginal communities involved, and 163 parks are reported as making specific efforts to consult with Aboriginal communities as part of broader community consultation processes. It is important to note that each park in the state requires a unique approach to community consultation and therefore each of the approaches described may be regarded as the most appropriate for different parks and their stakeholders.
Through Aboriginal joint management, DECCW works with Aboriginal communities to incorporate cultural practices into park management. As at 30 June 2010, there were 18 formal joint management arrangements in place with Aboriginal communities covering more than 23 per cent of the NSW park system area.
Cuumbeun Nature Reserve
The number of park managers reporting an established and regular process for community consultation has more than doubled since 2004. This increase reflects DECCW's continuing efforts to improve its consultation processes to more effectively engage the community in park management. Again, it is important to note that one approach is not considered better than other. Each park requires a unique approach to community consultation.
DECCW is committed to increasing the proportion of the community involved in group activities and volunteering. Volunteer activities are undertaken in a range of parks across NSW. While some are organised with local park staff, over 40 parks have formally advertised volunteer programs. Volunteer activities include bush regeneration and revegetation activities, dune care programs, wildlife carers, whale watching surveys, and cultural and historic heritage conservation.
Volunteers contribute significantly to conservation efforts in national parks. It is estimated that each year at least 3,800 volunteers contribute more than 172,000 volunteer hours to activities including weed and fire control, ecological conservation in and outside parks, threatened species programs, and community education.
For example, since the inception of the Chase Alive Discovery Program in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Northern Sydney, more than 440 people have volunteered. Chase Alive volunteers donate more than 11 thousand volunteer hours each year, including guided tours through Muogamarra Nature Reserve during the wildflower season and Barrenjoey Lightstation.
Corporate volunteering continues to expand at Sydney Harbour and Lane Cove national parks. Through a partnership with the Foundation for National Parks, DECCW supports corporate team-building while enabling the employees to experience national parks and contribute to conservation efforts.
Other dedicated volunteer groups and inspiring volunteer projects include the Kosciuszko Huts Association; Four-Wheel Drive Association of NSW & ACT; Friends of Lane Cove National Park; mountain-biking groups in Royal National Park and Glenrock State Conservation Area; fauna monitoring programs for schools children in Bournda National Park; Friends of Yanga; Cape Byron Friends at the Cape Bryon Lighthouse Museum; shore bird recovery volunteers on the south coast; volunteer guides at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre; Yellomundee Aboriginal Bushcare Group and numerous bush regeneration groups throughout the Blue Mountains.
- Engage with the community seeking input into the decision making process of park management.
- Implement a volunteers program to grow volunteering and encourage an increased range of people to participate in conservation activities on park.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011