The NSW national parks system is made up of more than 7.5 million hectares of land across more than 890 parks, reserves, state conservation areas, Aboriginal areas and historic sites. These protected areas are collectively referred to as 'parks'.
Each year, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service acquires land to develop the park system and better include a wide variety of ecosystems, environments, plants and animals, and places important to people. We do this so that we can best represent and protect our natural and cultural heritage.
Acquiring and reserving land
The first step in establishing a new park, or adding land to an existing park, is to acquire the land. We often purchase the land for new parks but sometimes it can be donated or transferred. Land can be recommended by the community or government.
All land proposed for inclusion in our national parks system must be fully assessed and evaluated for its conservation value. It can then be approved for purchase or acquisition by other means.
Acquiring land is not the same thing as reserving land.
The second step is to formally reserve the land which has been acquired. Reservation protects the land in-perpetuity, allows land to be covered by a plan of management, ensures all the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 apply and publicly identifies land as part of the national parks system. Reservation occurs by the publication of a notice in the NSW Government Gazette.
Land is not always reserved immediately after being acquired.
Proposals to acquire land can be triggered in various ways, including:
- a government initiative, commitment or policy
- community interest or concern about the protection of a particular conservation value
- an outcome of research or government assessment
- an offer of land for sale
- an offer of donation or bequest
- development processes that require a biodiversity offset
- compensation for revoking a park
- an outcome of a whole-of-government land-use planning process.
Land with different types of ownership can be acquired and reserved, including freehold, leasehold and other Crown land such as state forest or Crown reserves.
The land acquisition process
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service acquires land by agreement, under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, in a four-step process involving assessment, prioritisation, consultation and approval.