State conservation areas (SCAs) were introduced as a reserve category under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) in 2002. The SCA category enables lands with mineral values to be reserved for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage values, protecting values that might not otherwise have been protected due to mineral interests.
Lands categorised as SCAs are reviewed by the Minister for the Environment, in consultation with the Minister responsible for the Mining Act 1992, every 5 years. The aim of these reviews is to assess whether there is still a need for mining or exploration activity.
If there is no longer a need, an SCA can be upgraded and recategorised as national park or nature reserve, except where land is bound by an authority, lease, licence or permit under the Mining Act 1992, Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991, Offshore Minerals Act 1991 or Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982.
First review of state conservation areas
This first review of SCAs began in October 2007, 5 years after the SCA category was introduced in the NPW Act.
The review was published in 2008 and recommended that land within 10 SCAs be converted to national park or nature reserve. Six SCAs and parts of 4 SCAs, an area of about 4,100 hectares, were recommended for recategorisation as national parks and nature reserves.
Second review of state conservation areas
The second 5-yearly review was completed in 2014. The review found the SCA category was no longer needed for 7 SCAs and parts of 2 SCAs, an area of 35,864 hectares.
One SCA and parts of 2 SCAs, covering 32,700 hectares, have been changed to national parks. Six SCAs, covering 3,164 hectares, have been converted to nature reserves. The new reserves were gazetted on 21 November 2014.
Other state conservation area reviews
Under the National Park Estate (South Western Cypress Reservations) Act 2010, 11 SCAs were created in the central and west of New South Wales, including addition of land to the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area. Within one year of their creation, these land additions were subject to a review to look at mineral and petroleum values and work out whether they should remain as SCAs or be converted to national parks. This review is separate to the 5-yearly reviews of all SCAs.
The review recommended that 10 of the SCAs remain and one SCA become a national park.State Conservation Areas: Review and results under the National Park Estate (South-Western Cypress Reservations) Act 2010 and Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area Act 2005