The economic impact of protected areas on the Greater Shoalhaven region

The Greater Shoalhaven region as defined in this study is located within commuting distance of Wollongong and Sydney with 25 percent of the employed residents working outside this region.

The resident population of the Shoalhaven has been growing rapidly over the past 20 years and has a similar age profile to NSW as a whole. However, population projections indicate that it will be subject to rapid ageing with immigrant retirees.

The economy of the Greater Shoalhaven region represents 1.4% of the NSW economy and has a significant industry in food manufacturing, paper products and a range of smaller operations producing mainly for export. Primary production is small. The economy is dominated by the provision of services to residents including those working outside the region. Some of the specialised personal services are limited but presumably are readily accessed in nearby Wollongong. Business services tend to be relatively weak.

The Greater Shoalhaven region has been a high growth area and that is expected to continue and to be based on the quality residential characteristics of the region. The average income of households in the region is close to the NSW average and is currently less dependent on welfare and retirement incomes.

Summary of findings

An analysis of the socio-economic impact of protected areas (Commonwealth and NSW Marine Parks Authority and the former Office of Environment and Heritage), on the regional economy of the Greater Shoalhaven region was carried out for the Department in 2004 by the Centre for Agricultural and Regional Economics using input-output analysis, and produced the following findings.

Regional economic activity

Park management expenditure (p.a.)

Park visitor expenditure (p.a.)

Percentage of total regional economy attributable to protected areas

Regional value-added activity




Household income





208 jobs

3,219 jobs


The following points are notable:

  • Regional economic impacts associated with the expenditure of visitors are much greater than the impacts of park management expenditure.
  • Park management expenditure and visitor expenditure together contributed over 5% to regional value added activity, over 6% to household income and over 7.5% to regional employment.