DEC Annual Report 2005-06 - Overview
A healthy environment cared for and enjoyed by the whole community and sustained for future generations
- We manage natural and cultural heritage and deliver programs to assist in conservation and environmental protection.
- We build knowledge, tools and policy frameworks to inform and improve decision-making by government and others.
- We influence behaviour throughout the community to help protect the environment.
- We regulate activities to conserve Aboriginal cultural heritage and protect the environment.
- We influence the community's decision-making, including economic decisions, by providing up-to-date science and knowledge to improve the environment.
- We regulate activities according to the risk they pose to the environment, human health or Aboriginal cultural heritage.
- We work with our partners in all spheres of government, business and the community to develop and deliver environmental and conservation solutions.
- We strive for excellence in our management of natural and cultural heritage.
- We motivate and support people to be environmentally responsible and inspire new generations to learn more about conservation and the environment.
- We contribute to public debate about solutions to environmental and conservation problems.
- We respect the special relationship Aboriginal people have with the landscape and seek to incorporate their knowledge, insights and involvement in our conservation efforts.
As individual staff, work teams and as a department, we seek to:
- Protect the environment - we are strongly committed to protecting the environment.
- Respect Aboriginal culture and heritage - we respect Aboriginal knowledge and culture, both traditional and contemporary, and encourage and support the involvement of Aboriginal people in our work.
- Act with integrity - we are ethical, impartial and honest.
- Be transparent - we are open, accessible and accountable to the community and each other.
- Act professionally - we treat our colleagues, our many external partners and other members of the community with respect. We base our decisions on facts, objective standards and analysis, consistent with community values. We value our diversity of ideas and skills as the basis of selecting the best approach. Once a decision is made, we make a commitment to delivering that decision.
- Work collaboratively - we collaborate with our colleagues and our external partners to deliver our goals.
- Be innovative - we foster creative and inspirational thinking, and encourage learning and improvement.
Director General's Review
For the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), 2005-06 has been an exciting year, with major new environmental initiatives giving us a welcome boost as we consolidated significant reforms and completed our organisational restructure. We also remained focused on delivery.
New programs and reserves
Our exciting new programs range from conservation and natural resource management, and industry sustainability partnerships, to strategies that improve the lives of Aboriginal people.
In November 2005, the Premier announced one of the State's largest ever programs of environmental initiatives, to be led by DEC. The NSW City and Country Environment Restoration Program provides funding of $439 million over five years to programs which tackle some of our most significant environmental challenges. It demonstrates the importance of economic instruments to drive waste reduction, builds strong linkages, delivers benefits from programs across DEC and fosters partnerships with many others.
We have made major additions to the western NSW national parks, resulting in positive conservation and local employment benefits. The Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area allows for cross-tenure conservation underpinned by industry development programs and strong community involvement. We are also laying the foundations for bringing Yanga Station, which includes 150 km of Murrumbidgee River frontage and amazing river red gums and wetlands, into the national park system.
Our rivers and wetlands are having the hardest time ever as a result of water extraction and the drought. DEC has progressed its wetland initiative to protect both coastal and inland wetlands, contributing to the $13.4 million NSW Wetland Recovery Package, with the good news that the Commonwealth will now match NSW's funding. Combined with NSW RiverBank, the package will improve our wetlands and we are now linking it to a new DEC major project on floodplain management. This year the NSW Government also declared five wild rivers to protect their pristine qualities for the future.
We have continued to design innovative approaches and use economic instruments for environment protection, in particular with the work being done on biodiversity banking and regional conservation planning. DEC is also championing a new approach to focus our recovery efforts through the Threatened Species Priorities Action Statement.
On the waste, chemicals and pollution front, we are shifting towards widening industry responsibility and accountability, having signed new sustainability compacts with major companies like Hewlett Packard and Sensis. We have also released the updated Action for Air and the next stage of the national chemical management framework. We are seeing progress in programs to tackle historical legacies by regulating the clean-up of Rhodes Peninsula and Homebush Bay sediments, and supervising Orica's major Botany Bay groundwater clean-up. We delivered the second Extended Producer Responsibility Priority Statement to reduce wastes of concern, and reviewed the 2003 Waste Strategy. We are beginning to see the results of these programs through our improved waste data system.
It has also been a big year for augmenting legislation, with important amendments to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act and many of its regulations. We are transferring the skills we have developed in our pollution enforcement programs to our regulation of threatened species and Aboriginal heritage.
We have also focused on delivery in natural resource management (NRM). This year we have built a lasting partnership with catchment management authorities and the Natural Resources Commission, playing a strong role in developing the monitoring, evaluation and reporting strategy for the NRM standards and targets, and in refining new native vegetation tools including the PVP (property vegetation plan) developer and biodiversity forecaster.
An important stepping-stone has been the completion of DEC's Science Investment and Management Plan, given the importance of science to the delivery of our environment and conservation programs. Our collaboration with the university sector is strong, and we are very proud that our Forensic Laboratory at Lidcombe achieved the first ever environmental accreditation in Australia.
We have increased our emphasis on Aboriginal heritage programs, with major gains including:
- the hand-back of Biamanga and Gulaga national parks
- new declarations of Aboriginal Places and the repatriation of ancestral remains
- the adoption of DEC's Aboriginal People, Environment and Conservation Principles
- completion of the needs assessment for and launch of the DEC Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training Program
- continued commitment to and progress in the Culture and Heritage Cluster, which we chair, and Two Ways Together
- the appointment in April 2006 of DEC's Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee which plays a crucial role in advising us on our programs.
This year we have further improved our systems and governance arrangements including launching our new 2006-10 corporate plan, progressing toward a new DEC award, implementing key consultation steps in our OH&S program and rolling out our new corporate identity package.
Finally, as with last year, I want to give credit to the staff and the many people that help us along the way and keep us on track. The Board of the Environment Protection Authority, the NPW Advisory Council, the new statutory Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee, the many advisory and audit committees and the Board of the Botanic Gardens Trust have retained their positive, constructive approach to DEC's work. I also want to pay tribute to a number of outstanding public servants who were on the Executive and retired this year, as their dedication to the public service and to DEC made a real difference.
I sincerely express my appreciation to the Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus, who gives us strong leadership, an enthusiastic dedication to the environment and a connection with our staff which remains an inspiration.Lisa Corbyn
Left to right: John Keniry, Tony Wright - Acting Chair, (back) Bob Junor, (front) Lisa Corbyn, Judy Henderson, Gerry Bates, Peter Prineas. Absent: Yvonne Stewart, Genia McCaffery
The past year has brought major changes for the EPA Board as it continues to bring issues of environmental significance into prominent focus for the government and the community.
We have two new Board members, Councillor Genia McCaffery who has a wealth of experience in local government issues, and Ms Yvonne Stewart from the Arakwal Aboriginal Community on NSW's North Coast – the Board's first Aboriginal member. Yvonne has experience in environment protection in regional areas, and also gives the Board an important perspective on the environmental issues facing Aboriginal communities.
April 2006 saw the retirement of the Board's chair, David Harley. David's commitment to environment protection guided the EPA Board through times of great change, with sound and independent advice provided to the Minister, the Director General and DEC staff.
To ensure the most effective input into policy debate, the Board formulated a strategic agenda for the year that identified major themes for consideration. These included environment protection in Aboriginal communities, water management, chemicals, economic instruments, urban sustainability, waste and resource conservation, and air quality issues. The Board's broad base of expertise has provided DEC with important feedback on policy development and implementation in these areas.
This has been a crucial year in formulating a number of key platforms for the work of the EPA as a statutory body and DEC with its broader responsibilities. The Board and its members have directed and provided independent scrutiny on the NSW State of the Environment 2006 report through their role on the State of the Environment Advisory Council; and on waste management by reviewing the Waste Strategy and participating in the Extended Producer Responsibility Reference Group. The Board has also helped finalise DEC's Science Investment and Management Plan, which sets the strategic science direction into the future, through its Science Subcommittee.
The Minister for the Environment attended the Board's December meeting in 2005 to discuss the City and Country Environment Restoration Program, focusing on how the program will drive waste regulation and reform and support urban and regional sustainability projects.
On behalf of the EPA Board, I would like to thank the Minister for supporting the work of the EPA Board, David Harley for his strong and collaborative chairing of the Board, the Director General Lisa Corbyn, and the staff of DEC for their commitment and dedication in assisting the Board by providing quality advice and detailed briefings.
A.G. (Tony) Wright
Who we are
The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is a NSW Government agency primarily responsible for working with the community to protect and conserve our environment, including our natural and cultural heritage.
DEC is under the portfolio of the Minister for the Environment, and provides environment protection and conservation services and advice to government. DEC is responsible for developing policies and programs, and implementing government regulations and reform initiatives for environment protection and conservation, and is also a significant land manager, responsible for national parks and reserves that cover more than 8% of NSW.
In carrying out its functions, DEC operates under certain well-recognised 'brands' and legislative authorities. DEC maintains the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) logo, as many people associate this brand with our national parks.
In regulatory matters for environment protection, DEC acts under the powers of the statutory Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The independent EPA Board provides policy direction and approves significant prosecutions and exemptions under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
Staff of the Botanic Gardens Trust (BGT) are part of DEC, although BGT and its Board of Trustees are responsible separately to the Minister for the Environment. DEC also administers programs on behalf of the statutory Environmental Trust. Both these trusts' activities are reported in separate annual reports.
What we do
DEC delivers 'whole-of-environment' approaches and solutions for priority environmental, and natural and cultural heritage, issues in NSW.
DEC works towards achieving a clean and healthy environment by administering environment protection legislation. This legislation covers air and water quality, contaminated land, noise control, pesticides, hazardous chemicals, dangerous goods, radiation and waste. The legislation sets out broad-ranging environment protection requirements and outlines specific roles for agencies and local councils to implement these requirements. DEC uses various means to achieve compliance with this legislation, including education, economic incentive schemes, regulation, enforcement, and monitoring and reporting.
A major role for DEC is building a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system, managing the reserves for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and providing opportunities for people to enjoy the reserves while ensuring minimal impact on conservation values. Conservation on private lands is encouraged through formal agreements between landholders and DEC. DEC is responsible for conserving protected Australian animals and plants across the state, and for identifying, protecting and managing wilderness.
One of DEC's key roles is the protection and management of objects, places and landscapes of special significance to Aboriginal people. The reserve system also includes places of historical and social significance to the broader population, which DEC manages for conservation and the enjoyment of the people of NSW.
DEC promotes environmentally sustainable production, resource use and waste management. This involves developing, coordinating and implementing a range of strategies and programs, including educating industry and the community, and developing markets for recovered resources and recycled materials. DEC also conducts programs of social, cultural and environmental monitoring and research.
Major new initiative: NSW City and Country Environment Restoration Program
In November 2005, the NSW Premier announced a major program of environmental initiatives. The City and Country Environment Restoration Program provides funding of $439 million to be spent over five years. The program aims to restore many of the state's natural and urban areas to socially, economically and environmentally sustainable levels. Under this program, through the projects described below, the government will work towards restoring our iconic wetlands, protecting our marine environment, securing the high conservation values of our Crown lands, and reducing the ecological footprint of our urban centres.
As part of the program, a new waste and environment levy was introduced which builds on the current waste levy. From 1 July 2006, the levy will rise by $6 per tonne per year over five years, in addition to the previously scheduled increases and consumer price index adjustments. The increased levy sends a strong economic signal about the importance of avoiding the creation of waste and the need to recover, reuse and recycle our valuable resources, as well as making resource recovery from waste more competitive.
Restoring and protecting our natural heritage
$105 million over five years to buy environmental water from willing sellers for environmental flows and save the river systems and wetlands which are declining.
Two new marine parks
$25 million over five years to establish marine parks on the Batemans Shelf and Manning Shelf to better protect special marine environments for future generations. A further $5 million will be spent to implement the management plan for Cape Byron Marine Park.
High conservation value area fund
$13 million over four years to purchase perpetual Crown leases on land with a high conservation value and, where appropriate, add this land to the reserve system.
Revitalising our urban environments
Urban sustainability grants
$80 million over five years for local government to work with business and the community to address urban environmental issues, and harvest stormwater.
Strategic Environmental Trust grants
$76 million over five years for grants to support the Environmental Trust in generating new knowledge about our environment, developing solutions to environmental challenges and communicating with the broader community.
Major crackdown on illegal dumping
$18 million over five years to ensure non-compliance does not undermine the effectiveness of waste programs.
A new Waste and Environment Levy to drive waste reform and fund environmental programs
An annual increase in the waste and environment levy in the Greater Metropolitan Region over five years to reduce waste to landfill, encourage recycling and fund this program. Rebates to local councils worth $80 million over five years will reward local resource recovery achievements.
Creating a sustainable future for country NSW
Native vegetation assistance package
$37 million to fund a Native Vegetation Assistance Package of innovative socio-economic programs to help farmers adjust to new land-clearing laws.
Our clients and stakeholders
Our clients and stakeholders include:
- the NSW Minister for the Environment
- the State and Commonwealth governments
- the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council
- the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee
- the EPA Board
- committees advising DEC
- community organisations and associations
- Aboriginal communities
- users of parks, reserves and gardens
- neighbours of parks and reserves
- local government and its associations
- catchment management authorities
- industry and its associations
- tourism associations
- local, state and national conservation and heritage groups
- recreational groups
- the media
- recipients of our scientific data (research universities, students)
- public users of our information services.
Executive and organisational structure
At June 2006, DEC's executive management team comprised the Director General and 12 senior officers.
Corporate Services Division
- Administration and Facilities Branch
- Finance Branch
- Human Resources Branch
- Information Management and Communications Technology Branch
- Service Centre Branch
Cultural Heritage Division
- Aboriginal Heritage Operations Branch
- Policy and Knowledge Branch
Environment Protection and Regulation Division
Deputy Director General
- Environmental Innovation Branch
- Reform and Compliance Branch
- Regional Operations (Metropolitan, North East, North West and South branches)
- RiverBank Branch
- Specialised Regulation Branch
Parks and Wildlife Division
Deputy Director General
- Reserve and Wildlife Conservation Branch
- Central Branch
- Northern Branch
- Southern Branch
- Western Branch
Policy and Science Division
- Environment and Conservation Policy Branch
- Environment and Conservation Science Branch
Strategy, Communication and Governance Division
- Public Affairs Branch
- Information and Publishing Branch
- Corporate Governance Branch
- Ministerial and Parliamentary Services Branch
- Legal Services Branch
- Executive Services Branch
Sustainability Programs Division
- Frameworks and Product Stewardship Branch
- Business and Community Programs Branch
- Local Government and Resource Recovery Branch
Botanic Gardens Trust
- Communications and Marketing Branch
- Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens Branch
- Finance and Business Services Branch
- Mount Annan Botanic Gardens Branch
- Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens Branch
- Science and Public Programs Branch
Left to right: Bob Conroy, Director Central Branch; Steve Garrett, Acting Executive Director, Legal Services; Tony Fleming, Deputy Director General, Parks and Wildlife Division; Arthur Diakos, Executive Director, Corporate Services Division; Tim Rogers, Executive Director, Sustainability Programs Division; Lisa Corbyn, Director General; Jim Booth, Executive Director, Policy and Science Division; Tim Entwisle, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens Trust; Simon Smith, Deputy Director General, Environment Protection and Regulation Division; Sally Barnes, Executive Director, Strategy, Communication and Governance Division; Jason Ardler, Executive Director, Cultural Heritage Division; and Lynden Bartrim, Acting Director Executive Services. Absent: Donna Campbell, Executive Director, Legal Services; Susan Calvert, Director Executive Services; and Joe Woodward, Executive Director, Operations.
Our goals and focus areas
This annual report is structured around the Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) Corporate Plan 2004-06. The plan sets DEC's strategic direction and highlights specific priorities in key areas of its wide-ranging environment and conservation agenda for the two years to June 2006.
The plan's four goals set the framework for DEC's work and form the headings of chapters 2-5. To read chapters 2-5, see DECannrep06548chapter2.pdf (1089 kb), DECannrep06548chapter3.pdf (1549 kb) and DECannrep06548chapters4and5.pdf (799 kb).
In each chapter, DEC's achievements for 2005-06 are divided into one or more strategic focus areas, accompanied by key outcomes DEC aims to achieve. The plan also identifies 38 priorities for DEC's environment and conservation work, which are reported again at the start of each focus area.
Reporting on our performance
DEC reports on its performance publicly through its annual report. The 29 performance indicators reflect DEC's priorities and commitment to ongoing programs and partnerships.
The Botanic Gardens Trust has a separate corporate plan and annual report.
DEC's goals, strategic focus areas, priorities and performance indicators are listed below.
Our corporate plan priorities and performance indicators for 2004-06
- Total visits to DEC websites
- Number of information requests handled by DEC Information Centre
Goal: Protection of ecological and human health - see DECannrep06548chapter2.pdf (1089 kb)
Strategic focus area: A healthier and cleaner environment
- Improve approaches to compliance for regulatory activities for cultural heritage, environmental protection and threatened species to ensure the highest risks to the environment are effectively managed and controlled.
- Support the government's incident and security emergency preparedness so that we are ready to deal with bushfires and biological, chemical and radiological threats and other incidents.
- Develop a science investment plan that recognises the importance of decisions made on a scientific basis and identifies priority areas for environmental science, research and information provision.
- Lead the National Chemicals Working Group to achieve a risk management framework for chemicals, and improved criteria, information and education for adverse chemical impacts.
- Number and estimated value of new pollution reduction programs negotiated with licensees.
- Pollutant load indicator for total assessable air and water pollutants from premises licensed under load-based licensing.
- Prosecutions completed under EPA legislation.
- Prosecutions completed under threatened species, parks, wildlife and Aboriginal heritage legislation.
- Number and value of penalty infringement notices issued by DEC under EPA legislation.
- Percentage of time valid air quality data available from DEC monitoring network.
- Estimated tonnes of VOC emissions to the GMR prevented per summer due to DEC regulation of the fuel industry.
- Percentage of Beachwatch and Harbourwatch sites that comply with Beachwatch swimming water quality guidelines more than 90% of the time.
- Number of regulatory actions under the Contaminated Land Management Act
- Number of hazardous material incidents where DEC provided on-site technical or clean-up advice .
Strategic focus area: Community wellbeing improved
- Establish and promote new 'liveability' concepts, such as linking improvements in health and air quality and by promoting 'Healthy parks, Healthy people'.
- Increase the active participation of Aboriginal communities in conservation management, on and off reserved land.
- Complete the development of a NSW odour mitigation policy.
- Develop a noise mitigation policy framework to guide development within the state.
- Percentage of general terms of approval for integrated development assessment processes issued by DEC to consent authorities within statutory timeframes.
- Percentage of Environment Line pollution incident reports about issues relating to air quality, odours or noise from regulated premises.
- Number of formal agreements with Aboriginal communities for co-management of protected areas.
Goal: Conservation of natural and cultural values across the landscape - see DECannrep06548chapter3.pdf (1549 kb)
Strategic focus area: Biodiversity protected and restored
- Lead the process of reforming NSW threatened species conservation laws, systems and approaches.
- Review, develop and lead implementation of the next stage of the NSW Biodiversity Strategy, 'Living NSW'.
- Provide tools and knowledge to support catchment management authorities and councils in their protection of the natural and cultural values of biodiversity.
- Work to address the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
- Develop and implement off-reserve programs and initiatives for conservation as part of building a comprehensive, adequate and representative protected area system.
- Develop and implement a strategy for improved protection of NSW wetland systems.
- Private and unreserved land in NSW managed for conservation under DEC-managed programs.
Strategic focus area: Aboriginal cultural heritage protected
- Lead other government agencies in building effective relationships with Aboriginal people and communities to protect cultural heritage and to deliver the government's Culture and Heritage Cluster Action Plan.
- Review legislation and approaches for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
- Progress the return to Aboriginal communities of ancestral remains, cultural materials and knowledge, including working with Aboriginal communities and the Australian Museum.
- Identify, assess and protect places of significance to Aboriginal people in NSW.
- Number of Aboriginal remains and collections of cultural material held under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 repatriated to Aboriginal communities.
- Number of Aboriginal Place declarations (for sites of Aboriginal cultural significance) made under National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
Strategic focus area: Reserve system managed and improved
- Develop and implement a strategy to build and finance the reserve system, with emphasis on under-represented areas such as central and western NSW and marine environments.
- Systematically assess the natural and cultural values of the reserve system.
- Develop and implement an approach that promotes excellence in management of the reserve system, including the State of the Parks program and plan of management review.
- Develop and implement a strategic framework for cultural heritage management and interpretation within the reserve system.
- Area of land managed by DEC for conservation outcomes.
- Number of national parks, historic sites and nature reserves covered by a plan of management or where a draft plan has been on exhibition.
- Number of reserves covered by a fire management strategy (adopted or in preparation).
- Number of historic heritage projects undertaken as part of the Heritage Assets Maintenance Program.
Strategic focus area: Public use of reserve system sustainable
- Develop a policy and strategic planning framework for sustainable and culturally appropriate use of national parks.
- Put in place a total asset management approach for reserves.
- Number of participants in Discovery education programs and percentage satisfied.
Goal: Sustainable consumption, production, resource use and waste management - see DECannrep06548chapters4and5.pdf (799 kb)
Strategic focus area: Sustainability reflected in government and business operations
- Actively contribute to the government's metropolitan and regional planning strategies to promote sustainability principles and environmental protection.
- Guide purchasing and resource use by government agencies towards more sustainable practices.
- Minimise DEC's own environmental impact in terms of energy, water and paper consumption.
- Work with businesses to move them towards sustainable practices.
- Percentage of products with recycled content purchased by NSW agencies as reported under WRAPP.
- Percentage of waste recycled by NSW agencies as reported under WRAPP.
Strategic focus area: Resource conservation improved
- Implement the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy focusing on avoiding and preventing waste, increasing use of renewable and recoverable materials, and reducing roadside and railway litter and illegal dumping.
- Contribute early in the planning process to improve conservation and efficiency in resource use in urban and rural areas e.g. for water.
- Develop a sustainability framework for a more integrated approach to managing environmental issues.
- Change in waste disposed of to landfill in the Greater Sydney Region under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy.
Goal: A credible, efficient and effective organisation - see DECannrep06548chapters4and5.pdf (799 kb)
Strategic focus area: One integrated DEC
- Build staffing knowledge and accountabilities and the capacity to deliver services across DEC, emphasising conservation, environmental and cultural heritage concepts, values and practices.
- Review and implement the internal Cultural Heritage Change Program and the government's 'Two Ways Together' plan.
- Establish effective cross-divisional links within DEC.
- Develop and implement new industrial awards for DEC.
- Establish and implement effective integrated corporate support services across DEC, including policies, procedures, systems and infrastructure.
- Set and achieve challenging targets for occupational health and safety.
- Review work priorities to achieve DEC's two-year budget savings targets while also ensuring manageable workloads for staff.
- Percentage of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests granted by DEC that provide 80% or more of requested information.
- Number and value of reported DEC staff accidents and workers' compensation claims
- Percentage of DEC staff represented in equal employment opportunity groups.
This overview of the performance of DEC's financial operations for 2005-06 should be read in conjunction with the accompanying financial statements and related notes DECannrep06548finance.pdf (1220 kb). The report provides separate financial statements for the EPA and Stormwater Trust.
The net cost of services is the cost to the NSW Government of DEC services and is derived by deducting the total retained revenue from total expenses and adding/deducting any loss/gain on the sale of non-current assets. Our operations resulted in total expenses of $489.28 million, total retained revenue of $123.37 million, and a net cost of services of $365.91 million.
In addition, DEC collected revenue on behalf of the NSW Government amounting to $163.45 million, which contributed to Crown revenue.
How we use our financial resources
The following pie charts provide a snapshot of where DEC revenue came from and how it was allocated in 2005-06.
Page last updated: 26 February 2011