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State of the Parks 2007

This information is drawn from the 2007 State of the Parks survey. The survey captured information on almost every park in the NSW system at the time: 759 parks covering over 6.5 million hectares. Park assessments were based on the best information available for each park. Park managers are responsible for completing the surveys and their responses are based on multiple lines of evidence, including local manager experience and expertise, research, monitoring, corporate data and information systems, specialist and community opinion. Extensive training is provided before surveys are commenced and support is available at all times. Park managers are also encouraged to complete assessments with other members of their team to minimise bias.

Many authoritative conservation groups (e.g. Nature Conservancy or the IUCN) recognise the validity of using expert knowledge and a mix of qualitative and quantitative information to support large-scale assessments of management effectiveness. Undertaking such a mix ensures that factors such as staff interaction, cost, purpose, reliability and amount of time required for implementation are all considered (see 'Assessing Protected Area Management Effectiveness: A quick guide for protected area practitioners').

DECCW is using research and consultation with world-leading experts to implement its State of the Parks program. Together with Parks Victoria, the University of Queensland and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, DECCW has been a key partner in an Australian Research Council research project to build capacity for adaptive management in protected areas through improved systems for monitoring and evaluation. The findings from this research are very encouraging and support the validity of the approach used in State of the Parks surveys. For example, research undertaken to ground truth assessments by staff on the presence, severity and extent of weed threats is showing that the assessments made by DECCW staff during the survey were accurate.

State of the Parks assessments are conducted every three years and the 2010 survey is currently underway. Once these assessments have been finalised and the data quality assured, these pages will be updated with the latest information.

The results presented below are grouped to address five core areas:

Results are presented as a proportion of the total park system area unless identified otherwise. The number of parks reporting each result is also provided in brackets. Note that these proportions may appear very different where, for example, a small number of large parks is compared to a large number of smaller parks.

This information is collected to help systematically support processes to improve the management of the park system.

Improvements in core values management

Natural values

As a result of ongoing activities, park managers are reporting an improvement in the general condition of natural heritage values within parks. The number of parks where managers are reporting that most important natural heritage values are in excellent condition has almost tripled since 2004.

Figure 1: Condition of natural values

Condition of natural values - number of park. Excellent: 112; Good: 275; Fair: 181; Poor: 24; Not a principal value: 29; Insufficient information: 138

Threatened species

Impacts to threatened species are stable or better in the majority of the park system though further information is required in some parks. In some instances, additional information may be required on the nature or distribution of a species, while in others it is a case of waiting for the effects of management to progress before monitoring and evaluation can occur.

Figure 2: Managing impacts on threatened species

Managing impact on threatened species - number of park. Impact negligible: 52; Impacts diminishing: 92; Impacts stable: 352; Impacts increasing: 46; None present and no management program: 46; Insufficient information: 169

Aboriginal heritage values

While more park managers are advising that important Aboriginal objects, places and features of cultural heritage value that are in good to excellent condition, many report they require further information.

Figure 3: Condition of Aboriginal heritage values

Condition of Aboriginal heritage values - number of parks. Excellent: 111; Good: 109; Fair: 29; Poor: 3; Not a principle value: 297; Insufficient information: 210

Historic heritage values

The number of parks reporting their most important historic places, sites and objects of cultural heritage value are in excellent condition has increased by 24 per cent since 2004. However, while park managers report sufficient information about the values of historic heritage and threats to it, many require further information on its current condition. Degradation from natural processes, fire damage, vandalism and inappropriate use also threaten the integrity of their values.

Figure 4: Condition of historic heritage values

Condition of historic heritage values - number of parks. Excellent: 59; Good: 85; Fair: 55; Poor: 10; Not a principle value: 425; Insufficient information: 125

 

Success in managing pests and weeds

Weed management

Park managers report they are stopping weed impacts from increasing in almost 90 per cent of the park system. Increasing impacts are often associated with difficult access or parks that have recently been added to the park system. Where parks are new, concerted management efforts are being undertaken to reduce the impacts of weeds on park values.

Figure 5: Weed management

Success in managing pests and weeds - number of parks. Impacts negligible: 95; Impacts diminishing: 225; Impacts stable: 236; Impacts increasing: 95; Not a threat and no management program: 50; Insufficient information: 58

Pest management

Park managers report they are stopping the increase of pest animal impacts in over 94 per cent of the park system. Planning processes, such as threat abatement plans and regional pest management strategies, are used to identify priorities for managing pest animal threats. Other processes, such as regional operations plans, are in place to support park managers in implementing pest animal management programs.

Figure 6: Pest management

Pest management - number of parks. Impacts negligible: 79; Impacts diminishing: 124; Impacts stable: 346; Impacts increasing: 43; Not a threat and no management program: 66; Insufficient information: 100

Knowledge gaps requiring action

Natural heritage information

Information on natural heritage values is sufficient to support planning and inform decision-making across 93 per cent of the NSW park system, but there are still gaps. Collecting information and supporting research into the state's natural heritage is an ongoing and collaborative process in NSW parks.

Figure 7: Natural heritage information

Natural heritage information - number of parks. Information sufficient: 176; Information sufficient in key areas: 442; Information sufficient in some cases: 89; Little or no information available: 30; Not an issue: 22

Aboriginal cultural heritage information

Although DECCW's knowledge of Aboriginal cultural heritage is improving, significant information gaps remain. This partly reflects DECCW's growing engagement with Aboriginal communities, growing awareness of issues of importance and need for further information on Aboriginal cultural heritage management. Over time, these gaps will reduce as DECCW continues to gather and disseminate information to support planning and decision-making.

Figure 8: Aboriginal cultural heritage information

Aboriginal cultural heritage information - number of parks. Information sufficient: 116; Information sufficient in key areas: 238; Information sufficient in some cases: 101; Little or no information available: 63; No places, sites or objects recorded: 241

Historic heritage information

Park managers report sufficient information to support planning and inform decision-making for historic heritage management across 84 per cent of the NSW park system, a 20 per cent increase since 2004. This is based on a range of sources, including the centralised Historic Heritage Information Management System.

Figure 9: Historic heritage information

Historic heritage information - number of parks. Information sufficient: 157; Information sufficient in key areas: 174; Information sufficient in some cases: 52; Little or no information available: 48; No sites recorded: 328

Visitation information

DECCW is continuing to undertake research to improve the information available about park visitation. While a strong focus is maintained on gaining reliable information on the number and frequency of visitors to parks, additional visitor research also gathers information on demographics, activities and satisfaction levels. Additional research has explored visitor preferences, motivations and barriers to participation in outdoor recreation activities in natural areas.

Figure 10: Visitation information

Visitation information - number of parks. Ongoing program for collecting information: 35; Information sufficient: 167; Information not sufficient in most cases: 93; Little or no information available: 63; Minimal visitation: 401

Improvements in cultural heritage management

Planning for Aboriginal cultural heritage

More parks are adopting a planned approach to management of Aboriginal cultural heritage than every before, but there are still gaps in our information.

Figure 11: Approaches to Aboriginal cultural heritage management

Approaches to Aboriginal cultural heritage management - number of parks. Implementing comprehensive plans: 51; Implementing plans: 165; Responsive management: 127; Minimal management undertaken: 60; Not an issue and no program: 142; Insufficient information: 214

Aboriginal cultural heritage management

Aboriginal cultural heritage is reported as being managed effectively in almost 80 per cent of the NSW park system. Where negative impacts are occurring, it is often the result of vandalism, inappropriate behaviours or fire. Planning processes, such as regional operations plans, are in place to support park managers to systematically identify where impacts are increasing so that action can be taken.

Figure 12: Effect of Aboriginal cultural heritage management

Effect of Aboriginal cultural heritage management - number of parks. Impacts negligible: 138; Impacts diminishing: 60; Impacts stable: 193; Impacts increasing: 12; Not an issue and no program: 142; Insufficient information: 214

Planning for historic heritage

More parks are adopting a planned approach to managing historic heritage than ever before. Of the declared historic sites, all but one has a planned management approach and the remaining site has a responsive management approach as little intervention is required.

Figure 13: Approaches to historic heritage management

Approaches to historic heritage management - number of parks. Implementing comprehensive plans: 54; Implementing plans: 125; Responsive management: 73; Minimal management undertaken: 57; Not an issue and no program: 294; Insufficient information: 156

Historic heritage management

The number of parks reporting increasing impacts on historic heritage has reduced by three-quarters (82 parks reported that impacts were increasing in 2004 despite management efforts). Where negative impacts are persisting, impacts are often caused by natural processes, such as in coastal areas where heritage values are exposed to constant erosion from the elements. In other instances vandalism in a problem.

Figure 14: Effect of historic heritage management

Effect of historic heritage management - number of parks. Impacts negligible: 79; Impacts diminishing: 65; Impacts stable: 137; Impacts increasing: 28; Not an issue and no program: 294; Insufficient information: 156

Success in sustainable visitation management

Planning for visitation

DECCW undertakes extensive planning across the NSW park system to support sustainable visitation. Responsive management occurs in many parks where visitation is typically lower. Planning for high-visitation parks particularly focuses on providing facilities to support sustainable use of the park and maximise the experience of visitors.

Figure 15: Approaches to planning for visitation

Approaches to planning for visitation - number of parks. Implementing comprehensive plans: 58; Implementing plans: 181; Responsive management: 105; Minimal management undertaken: 32; Not an issue and no program: 311; Insufficient information: 72

Sustainable visitation

DECCW is supporting sustainable park visitation. Fewer park managers report visitor impacts are increasing compared to 2004. Visitor impacts are being addressed through the implementation of actions from the Living Parks strategy and branch visitation management plans; direct improvements to visitor infrastructure; and identifying opportunities to increase management resources and conservation benefits from partnerships with the tourism industry.

Figure 16: Effect of visitor management

Effect of visitor management - number of parks. Impacts negligible: 68; Impacts diminishing: 94; Impacts stable: 152; Impacts increasing: 34; Not a threat and no management program: 311; Insufficient information: 100

Visitor facilities

Park managers report that a small number of parks require improvements to available visitor facilities or services. Many of these parks have only recently come under DECCW management and facility development is occurring as planning and demand studies are completed. In other cases, the need for improvements reflects the ongoing nature of the provision of appropriate visitor facilities. Where facilities may have once been appropriate, increasing use or changes to the type of visitation may require alterations.

Figure 17: Provision of visitor facilities

Provision of visitor facilities - number of parks. Appropriate to reserve category and adequate for current visitation: 156; Appropriate to reserve category but inadequate for current visitation: 100; Existing facilities inappropriate for reserve category: 20; None present despite identified need: 14; None present and none needed: 469

Approaches to Aboriginal community consultation and involvement

Park managers report a range of different approaches to Aboriginal community consultation and involvement are in place. It is important to note that each consultation on the management of each park requires a unique approach and should not be limited to one type. The number of park managers reporting an established, regular process of consultation with Aboriginal communities to support park management, however, has more than tripled since 2004. Results are presented as proportion of total parks.

Figure 18: Approaches to Aboriginal community consultation and involvement

Approaches to Aboriginal community consultation and involvement - number of parks. Recent plan of management development has adequately addressed needs: 97; Established process of consultation and input covering all major aspects: 111; Established process of consultation appropriate for all involved: 147; Specific efforts as part of wider community consultation: 163; None apart from formal management planning and statutory processes: 147; Unaware of community with interest in reserve: 94

Approaches to community consultation and involvement

Park managers report a range of different approaches to community consultation and involvement are in place. It is important to note that each consultation on the management of each park requires a unique approach and should not be limited to one type. The number of park managers reporting an established and regular process for community consultation however, has more than doubled since 2004. Results are presented as proportion of total parks.

Figure 19: Approaches to community consultation and involvement

Approaches to community consultation and involvement - number of parks. Recent plan of management development has adequately addressed these needs: 129; Established process of consultation and input covering all major aspects:92; Consultation and input at initiation of park managers: 243; Consultation limited to responding to areas of public concern: 126; None apart from statutory management planning: 73; Insufficient public interest: 96

Page last updated: 03 February 2015