Managing parks prior to a plan of management policy

This policy provides guidelines for the management of a reserve that does not yet have a plan of management.

Dorrigo National ParkThe National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) requires that a plan of management (PoM) be prepared for a park as soon as practicable after the park is reserved. A PoM indicates how a park will be conserved, used, developed and managed.

If a park does not yet have a PoM, a statement of management intent (SMI) may be prepared to guide its management.


1. Parks without an adopted PoM will be managed consistent with the NPW Act and other relevant legislation, existing park management policies (including this policy), and other relevant manuals, procedures and guidelines.

2. An SMI outlines the key values, threats and management directions for the reserve and describes the management intent for the reserve in the period prior to a PoM being adopted. An SMI is not a replacement for an adopted PoM. Management activities outside the provisions of this policy may be carried out with appropriate director-level approval.

3. An SMI cannot authorise activities inconsistent with the objects and management principles of the NPW Act, or other legislative requirements. An SMI is not required to carry out activities that ensure health and safety, protect the environment or maintain existing assets at current standards.

4. An SMI will replace a statement of interim management intent. If there is an existing statement of interim management intent for a park (that is, no draft or adopted PoM), the statement of interim management intent will be considered in drafting the SMI for the park.

5. All SMIs will be published on the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website.

6. Any activities proposed by an SMI will be subject to:

  • an appropriate level of environmental assessment – for example, a Conservation Risk Assessment (CRA), Review of Environmental Factors (REF) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
  • a sustainability assessment to address the sustainability guidelines (Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Visitor Use and Tourism in New South Wales National Parks; internal document available to staff).

7. For lands vested in the Minister under Part 11 of the NPW Act, the park authority should check whether a local environment plan applies and if approval from the local council is required.

8. You should not undertake activities if they would be detrimental to:

  • native animal communities
  • significant plant communities
  • important geological features
  • any other significant items of natural heritage.

9. You may implement environmental repair and threat-management programs such as

  • erosion-control programs
  • bush-regeneration programs
  • weed and pest-animal control programs
  • activities arising from threatened-species recovery plans and the Priorities Action Statement (PAS)

in accordance with relevant OEH policies and procedures. 

10. Do not disturb, remove, destroy or otherwise interfere with

  • historic buildings
  • historic plantings (such as orchards or gardens)
  • landscape features (such as terracing or dams)
  • moveable objects relating to a place (including garbage dumps)
  • Aboriginal or archaeological sites

unless a conservation assessment or plan has been approved.

You should seek any approvals required under section 90 of the NPW Act or the Heritage Act 1977.

11. You may undertake non-intrusive works if they are necessary to protect cultural-heritage items from further deterioration or to ensure the safety and protection of visitors or wildlife.

12. You should carry out essential fire-management operations to fulfil OEH’s obligations to protect neighbours and park assets (including natural and cultural resources) from the threat of fire.

13. Small-scale prescribed burns and small-scale mechanical clearing should be undertaken where necessary.

14. Broad-scale burning should only be undertaken where it is in accordance with an adopted fire-management strategy for the reserve.

15. Activities that are not permissible under the NPW Act should be discontinued in the park unless they are existing interests that are subject to pre-existing legal arrangements (see sections 39 and 47H of the NPW Act). Examples of an existing interest are a current lease, licence, concession or permit that was obtained from the previous land manager. Any renewals of such interests must take into account OEH policies.

16. No new leases are to be issued until a PoM is adopted. Existing leases for permissible activities may be extended.

17. Short-term licences may be issued for existing interests under sections 39 and 47H of the NPW Act provided that they are permissible under the NPW Act.

18. Apiary licences should be managed in accordance with the beekeeping policy.

19. You may install fencing along the boundaries of the park in accordance with the boundary fencing policy.

20. You may install park-name, regulatory and warning signs in accordance with the signage policy (internal document available to staff).

21. Do not construct new structures such as workshops, offices, toilet blocks, radio towers, power lines, telecommunication lines and water mains. Do not extend existing structures or services unless this is essential for

  • public health and safety
  • the health and safety of staff
  • controlling pollution

or because the works are permitted under an existing lease or licence.

22. Existing service lines (for example, for water and electricity) may be upgraded and/or the lines cleared only where this is essential for management or the upgrading is permitted under an existing lease or licence. Upgrading and/or clearing must not affect cultural sites or places.

You should assess and manage risks to visitor safety in accordance with the visitor safety policy.

24. You should not construct new tracks, trails or roads except in emergencies. If constructed, they should be rehabilitated as soon as possible following the emergency.

25. You don’t need to maintain tracks and trails that are considered unnecessary for managing the reserve or public access. You should seek approval (via an SMI or from a director) to gate or close vehicle trails where access is damaging the reserve, or if a trail poses a risk to public safety.

26. You should maintain at current standards any tracks, trails, roads, bridges and lookouts that are to be retained. If upgrading is considered essential for public safety or fire-management purposes, this must be included in an SMI or approved by a director.

27. You should maintain at current standards existing visitor facilities that are to be retained, unless modifications are required to maintain health and safety or prevent pollution. A risk assessment of existing facilities should be undertaken in accordance with the visitor safety policy.

28. You can construct new visitor facilities only in accordance with an approved SMI or with approval from a director.

29. You may close existing visitor facilities if there is evidence that these facilities are causing unacceptable environmental impacts, dangers to public health and safety, or pollution risks. A director can approve a closure on the grounds of significant impact or risk. Other closures should be included in an SMI.

30. Non-destructive research may be conducted into the natural and cultural values of the park. Examples of such research are:

  • studies related to fire management
  • vegetation mapping
  • fauna surveys
  • cultural heritage surveys.

31. A PoM should be prepared as soon as practicable. An SMI should not be prepared as a substitute for a PoM. Any research and planning carried out in preparing an SMI should be used to inform the PoM. You may carry out research and develop other plans for the reserve, such as:

  • species-recovery plans
  • fire-management strategies
  • pest-species control plans
  • conservation plans
  • visitor surveys
  • preliminary site plans.

If any existing management operations are to be changed, you must communicate with and consult neighbours and the Regional Advisory Committee(s). If major changes are proposed, a communications plan should be prepared by the Visitor Experience Branch.

Policy adopted 24 May 2017

Scope and application

This policy applies to all parks reserved under the NPW Act, and to lands held by the Minister under Part 11 of the NPW Act, where there is no adopted PoM.


CRA means Conservation Risk Assessment, which is the assessment of environmental impacts conducted when no REF or EIS is required.

Ecologically sustainable development (under section 6 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991) means development achieved through implementing:

  • the precautionary principle – If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation
  • the principle of inter-generational equity – the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment are maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations
  • conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity
  • improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms – environmental factors should be included in the valuation of assets and services.

EIS means Environmental Impact Statement, which is an assessment of significant environmental impacts under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Park authority means the body responsible for care, control and management of a park, as defined in the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009.

PoM means a plan of management in relation to land reserved under the NPW Act that is prepared under section 72 of the Act.

REF means Review of Environmental Factors, which is an assessment of environmental impacts under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Statement of Interim Management Intent, which may have been prepared as an interim park management plan before a PoM was developed.

SMI means Statement of Management Intent, which outlines management directions for a reserve prior to a PoM being adopted and replaces an existing statement of interim management intent for that reserve.

Sustainability Guidelines means the Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Visitor Use and Tourism in NSW National Parks (internal document available to staff; published in 2011).

Visitor facilities means facilities provided specifically for visitors to a park. They do not include:

  • major infrastructure, including buildings (depots and accommodation), roads, airfields and helipads
  • minor infrastructure not used by visitors, such as staff car parks, dams, weirs, bore heads and pumps
  • signs.

Relevant legislation or other mandating instruments

Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)

Heritage Act 1977


NPW Regulation

Wilderness Act 1987

Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995

Related policies and other documents

Australia ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Significance (Burra Charter)

Beekeeping policy

Boundary fencing policy  

Ramsar Convention

Review of Environmental Factors Guidelines

Signage policy (included in the Park Management Policy Manual; internal document available to staff)

Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Visitor Use and Tourism in NSW National Parks (internal document available to staff)

Visitor safety policy

World Heritage Convention

Relevant policies for the activity proposed are also included in the Park Management Policy Manual (internal document available to staff)


Accountabilities under this policy are in accordance with the delegation of the Chief Executive Officer unless functions under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009. Delegations to OEH staff can be accessed internally.