Assets of Intergenerational Significance

The NSW Bushfire Inquiry recognised the need to identify the most important natural and cultural assets in the national park estate, so that special provision can be made for their conservation.

The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 was amended to allow the Minister for the Environment to declare an area to be an Asset of Intergenerational Significance (AIS).

An Asset of Intergenerational Significance (AIS) can be any area of exceptional value – natural or cultural – that warrants special protection including dedicated management measures.

The first tranche of AIS are intended to protect the most important habitat for threatened species. Subsequent themes for AIS declarations may include nationally significant wetlands or important cultural heritage.

What assets will be declared

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is identifying and assessing other areas in the national park system that may merit declaration and management as an environmental Asset of Intergenerational Significance (AIS). These assessments take into account the best available scientific information and new data and research about conservation values and threats that continue to emerge. 

Potential declarations of environmental AIS will be informed by a range of considerations that include:

  • sites for critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable species
  • important areas for breeding, feeding or shelter
  • locations where locally extinct mammal species are being reintroduced
  • where the national park otherwise provides important habitat.

Opportunities to declare land in national parks as cultural AIS will also be examined. Aboriginal communities will lead the process to determine areas with Aboriginal cultural heritage significance in national parks for declaration as cultural assets. NPWS will work with Aboriginal people, including our joint management partners, to confirm the matters that should be considered and to respect cultural sensitivities and knowledge. 

These cultural assets may include lands with tangible cultural heritage of importance to Aboriginal people, such as rock art, scar trees and middens. Protection may also be provided to intangible values, such as places of spiritual importance where storylines live on in the landscape and where significant cultural activities occurred and continue to take place.

Similarly, further work is required to examine the scope to declare lands as cultural AIS because of their historic heritage values.

Conservation action plans

For each threatened species AIS, NPWS is under a statutory obligation to prepare and implement a concise conservation action plan (CAP) which sets out:

  • key risks to the declared area of habitat for the threatened species
  • priority actions to reduce risks to this important habitat – such as dedicated feral animal control or fire management, or the establishment of insurance populations
  • actions to measure and report on the health/population of the threatened species (metrics).

In most cases, draft CAPs will be exhibited for public comment and advice sought from the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council. In some limited situations, where a plan needs to be urgently finalised to address an imminent threat, public exhibition and referral to the Advisory Council may not be feasible.

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