Second Review of State Conservation Areas

Under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974

The state conservation area (SCA) is a category of reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (the NPW Act). SCAs protect natural and cultural heritage values and provide recreational opportunities. However, unlike other reserves such as national parks and nature reserves, they also provide for other uses including mineral exploration and mining, and petroleum exploration and production. SCAs are the only reserve category that allows for exploration and mining.

1 July 2014
Office of Environment and Heritage
Publication, Report
  • ISBN 978-1-74359-264-9
  • ID OEH20140568
  • File PDF 2.9MB
  • Pages 320
  • Name second-review-state-conservation-areas-2014-140568.pdf

Because SCAs provide for these dual uses, they form an important category in the public reserve system. SCAs provide an opportunity for lands to be included in the reserve system that, because of their mineral interests, might otherwise not have been available for active conservation management and public appreciation and enjoyment.

SCAs were introduced as a reserve category under the NPW Act in 2002. This amendment also changed all existing state recreation areas (SRAs) to SCAs.

A new class of reserve, called a community conservation area (CCA), was created in 2005. A CCA is divided into four zones, with Zone 3 being the equivalent of an SCA. CCAs are therefore included in this review. Of the 147 reserves that are considered to be SCAs for the purposes of this review, 19 are classified as CCA Zone 3 SCAs.

As at 2 October 2012, there were 147 SCAs covering about 744,704 ha, which represents 10.5 % of all land reserved under the NPW Act. They protect natural and cultural heritage values in landscapes ranging from coastal scrub and rainforest to rangelands, and may include habitat for threatened species or significant Aboriginal sites.

The review process

The first review of SCAs commenced in October 2007, five years after the SCA category was introduced in the NPW Act, and continued over a six-month period to 30 April 2008. The review recommended that ten parcels of land be recategorised as either national park or nature reserve.

The second review of SCAs commenced in October 2012 and continued over a seven-month period to 1 May 2013. Titles granted after this period were not considered in the review.

This review follows the same process as the first review. It identifies those SCAs that are currently the subject of exploration or mining titles; or have identified mineral values from past exploration and mining activity; or have geology that indicates potential mineral values which have not been adequately tested. In conducting the review, the Minister is in effect asking the question, ‘Is the dual-purpose reserve category still required?’ To answer this for each of the 147 SCAs a three-step decision-making process has been applied, as follows:

  • Firstly, do mining or exploration titles apply to land within the SCA? If yes, then the dual-purpose reserve category is still required. Also, under the NPW Act, land that is subject to mining or exploration titles cannot be reserved as national park or nature reserve by NSW Government Gazette notice.
  • Secondly, does the land within the SCA contain significant mineral values? If yes, and the land is likely to be the subject of exploration and mining activity in the future, then the dual-purpose 6 Second Review of State Conservation Areas category is still required. These recommendations are supported by a description of the relevant geological evidence.
  • Thirdly, have the mineral values of the land been adequately investigated? If not, but the geology of the surrounding area suggests that mineral values are likely to be found, then the dual-purpose reserve category is still required. For those SCAs that are recommended to be reserved as a national park or nature reserve, the recommendation for the most appropriate reserve category is based on: the original conservation assessment of the area; consideration of the different management principles for national parks and nature reserves; and the landscape in which the reserve is situated.