About us

About us

Examples of our work


NSW Energy Efficiency Action Plan

In August 2013 OEH released the NSW Energy Efficiency Action Plan. This plan will help ease the cost of living for households, unlock energy productivity for business, and position the NSW Government to lead by example.

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Cover image: NSW Energy Efficiency Action Plan

The plan provides 30 actions grouped across five streams. These will help deliver savings on bills and reduce pressure on future prices. These streams are:

  • Strengthen the energy efficiency market
  • Energy efficient homes
  • Energy efficient business
  • Energy efficient government
  • State wide delivery.

The plan incorporates the best parts of existing NSW Government energy efficiency programs and makes them more cost-effective, more accessible and more targeted. It also commits to investigating new policy options to deliver the additional savings required to meet NSW 2021 targets.

New Native Vegetation Regulation 2013

The Native Vegetation Regulation 2013 (the Regulation) commenced on 23 September 2013, and replaced the Native Vegetation Regulation 2005.

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Rural farm. Photo: M Cufer/OEH.

The changes to the Regulation have come about through an extensive public consultation process and include the recommendations of an independent facilitator. Some changes include:

  • bringing in new self-assessable codes for some types of clearing activity
  • clarifying the meaning of problematic definitions in the old regulation
  • removing the need for native vegetation approval in many instances where a consent from Council is also required
  • providing greater discretion for Local land Services when dealing with regrowth.

These changes are designed to cut unnecessary red tape for farmers, reduce dual consent, support local councils carrying out their land management functions and maintain environment protections.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Managing fire in the NSW reserve system

Bushfires are a natural and inevitable part of the Australian landscape, and NSW is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world. A strong strategic framework and an active fire management program are crucial to mitigating the risk of wildfires.

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Fire management strategy

cover image: Living with fire in NSW national parks

During 2013, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) released a 10-year fire management strategy, Living with Fire in NSW National Parks: A Strategy for Managing Bushfires in National Parks and Reserves 2012-2021. The strategy provides a clear statement and framework for the NPWS fire management approach, and outlines priorities in managing bushfires in national parks and reserves during the next 10 years.

With almost 1200 fire fighters, as well as aircraft and heavy plant machinery which can be employed in fire management operations, NPWS has managed to treat almost 208,000 hectares in 1370 separate hazard reduction activities in 2012-13. The previous best year for NPWS hazard reduction burning was in 2009-10 season when over 90,000 hectares was treated in controlled burning operations. This is a significant achievement for the NPWS as it represents 83% of the total amount of hazard reduction burning that was carried out in NSW.

For 2013-14, more than 600 hazard reduction burning activities have been scheduled aiming to treat well over the minimum target of 135,000 hectares of bushfire prone land, subject to favourable weather conditions.

Fire incidents in the parks system account for less than 5% of the total bushfire incidents in NSW, and nearly 90% of all fires that occur on parks are contained within park boundaries.

NPWS does great work to protect life and property as well as biodiversity. This work keeps communities safer from future hazards and ensures local environments are well protected.

Promoting parks in a digital age

The NPWS website is an ongoing project and part of a broader digital strategy to promote national parks in NSW.  Results of visitor surveys show the benefits of this work with the number of domestic visits to our parks in 2012 reaching 35.5 million – 5% higher than in 2010.

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New Years Eve fireworks

During 2013, there has been massive growth in web visitation.  By November, the site was receiving nearly 250,000 visits (and over 1.1 million page views) per month. This represents a growth of more than 280% over a 12-month period.

NPWS is continuing to develop new content to promote our parks. In November 2013, the site included 222 parks and nearly 1300 attractions.

Accommodation can now be booked online with 79 properties, 31 campgrounds and 48 individual hard roof accommodations currently bookable. In 2012-2013 the online booking system supported over 24,000 bookings for more than 84,000 room nights, across 73 locations in national parks around the state. Events, tours and venues can also be booked via the online ticketing system. During 2012-2013, there were 66 types of public tours, 10 types of group tours, 16 venues, 3 picnic sites and 2 events sold via the online ticketing system. More than 80% of 2012 NYE tickets were sold online.

Our national parks and reserves are public resources to treasure, and we want to make it easier for everyone to interact with us and, ultimately, get out into the great outdoors and visit a park. NPWS will continue to promote our parks for visitation and utilise new technologies to allow visitors to the website to download useful apps, book online trips, access interactive maps and communicate via social media.

Successful volunteering in the NSW reserve system

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has more than 6,500 volunteers contributing more than 126,000 hours of effort each year to conserve and promote the state’s natural and cultural heritage.

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Volunteers weeding

Based on research, planning and a number of capacity building initiatives, NPWS has strengthened and grown the quality and range of volunteering opportunities across the state. This has resulted in a 70% increase in the number of volunteers since 2006-07.

Our parks and wildlife benefit hugely from the generous time and dedication of these volunteers. Volunteers, in return, benefit from an unforgettable experience in some of Australia's finest nature locations. Research conducted by NPWS found volunteers were motivated for a number of reasons – passion for the environment, wanting to give back to national parks, enjoyment of learning and appreciation of the opportunities that volunteering with NPWS provided in nature, and historic and Aboriginal heritage.

NPWS volunteer projects can be grouped into those that utilise individual volunteers, community groups (such as Friends of the Rock-Wallaby or Friends of Lane Cove) or incorporated groups, such as National Parks Association (NPA) and Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA). Examples of NPWS volunteer projects include campground hosts, Aboriginal bushcare, corporate volunteering, bush regeneration, heritage and tour guiding, track maintenance by mountain-biking groups, wildlife surveys, pest management, and the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife.

Exciting volunteer opportunities are available in many of NSW's stunning national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas. To find out more, visit the Volunteer for NSW national parks website.

Regional Operations

Saving NSW threatened species

Australia is home to more than 500,000 animal and plant species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Over the last 200 years, more than 100 animal and plant species have become extinct. In NSW alone there are close to 1000 animal and plant species currently at risk of extinction.

Saving our Species is the NSW Government’s new program to secure as many of these species as possible in the wild for the next 100 years.

NSW’s international offering

The National Australian Built Environment Ratings Scheme (NABERS) is a world class rating system that measures the energy efficiency, water usage and waste management of buildings.

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Launch of NABERS in New Zealand

NABERS is administered by the NSW Government on behalf of the Australian, state and territory governments. More than 70% of NSW’s office market has been rated with NABERS Energy for Offices, making our property sector a world leader in sustainability.

In June 2013 the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage launched NABERS for New Zealand.

The launch of NABERS NZ is the first time another country has adopted the scheme and recognises the success of the NSW rating tool initiative. The scheme has the potential to help commercial office building owners and tenants to save 25% in energy costs through improved energy management.

Koala conservation

The NSW Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the conservation of koalas through continued funding for koala conservation and recovery work.

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Mother and baby koalas

The Minister for the Environment and Minster for Heritage announced in 2012 that the Office of Environment and Heritage had allocated $710,000 in funding over three years under the new Priorities Action Statement in recognition of the iconic status of koalas. Koala conservation measures are important as Koala populations suffer from the impact of fires, dogs, collision with cars and prolonged and severe drought – and have specific dietary requirements which can make for poor recovery potential.

The funding will be used for a variety of conservation measures including tracking changes in koala populations; developing a standard approach to mapping koala habitat; and evaluating the effectiveness of previous tree plantings. Furthermore, it will give incentives to landholders to manage and approve priority koala habitat on their lands and to identify koala habitat and threats and recommend mitigation activity for councils and the community.

Community bush regeneration

As part of the Government’s commitment to regenerate degraded natural bushland, the Environmental Trust, through its Community Bush Regeneration Large Project Stream, has awarded over $8 million to 33 projects commencing from 1 July 2012 that will run for a maximum of six years.

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Community bush regeneration

The aim of the Community Bush Regeneration Large Project Stream is to facilitate projects run by local community groups to undertake large, long term bush regeneration projects.

One of the grant recipients, Bega River and Wetlands Landcare Group Inc, was awarded $249,580 for its Bega River and wetlands river oak regeneration project. The project aims to achieve the ecological recovery of a four-kilometre stretch of the lower Bega River around the urban township of Bega. In January 2013, the Minister for the Environment visited the site of the project and was pleased to note the progress so far. Almost 6,000 volunteer hours are predicted to be contributed to this project over the next six years, which will include the protection of remnant stands of mature River Oaks for future generations.


Celebrated declaration of NSW’s 91st Aboriginal Place

On 15 June 2013, the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage joined the local community to celebrate the declaration of Butterfly Cave as the State’s 91st Aboriginal Place.

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Environment Minister Robyn Parker at Butterfly Cave with Awabakal women.

As at June 2013, a total of 96 Aboriginal Places have been gazetted. Butterfly Cave is the first Aboriginal Place to be declared within the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council area, and the declaration has been warmly welcomed by the entire community. It was used as a traditional meeting and place of ceremony by Awabakal women and served as a safe haven. The area is highly valued by the Aboriginal peoples and is still used as an area for the continuing education of young girls by female Elders.

The declaration of Butterfly Cave as an Aboriginal Place marked a long journey for the local Aboriginal community to have the significance of the site formally recognised and protected. The declaration recognises that Aboriginal culture is living and continuing, and that the connection of Aboriginal people to the land and culture is immensely important to their wellbeing and future.

Celebrating our heritage

The NSW Government continued its commitment to the protection of the state’s heritage, with a further 30 items listed on the State Heritage Register in 2012-13.

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Minister for Heritage Robyn Parker MP, Member for Penrith and Museum of Fire Director, at the heritage listing announcement.

This included a number of sites at Uralla associated with the bushranging activities of Captain Thunderbolt; Newcastle’s Grand City Hall and Civic Theatre; the Bundian Way Aboriginal walking track linking Mount Kosciuszko to Eden; and the Modernist architectural movement’s ‘Jack House’ at Wahroonga.

The listings ensure that future management or development of the sites is adequately supported by the Heritage Council and represents the NSW Government’s commitment to conserving, revitalising and caring for places of heritage significance. The Government’s support for the protection of the State’s heritage is continuing with the call for applications for the next round of funding under the 2014-15 NSW Heritage Grants program.


Air quality monitoring

OEH provides the community with timely and accessible information on key air pollutants from 40 air quality monitoring stations across NSW with hourly data available in near real time.

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Sydney Tower during a dust storm and on a clear day. Photo: L Goggin/OEH

The network was expanded when the Minister opened new air monitoring stations at Camden and Wyong in December 2012. Over the past year OEH has responded to numerous media requests to describe and explain the causes of poor air quality, particularly in the Hunter Valley.

Identifying high-value agricultural land

The debate about potential land-use conflicts between agriculture and the coal seam gas industry remains a hot topic in NSW. OEH is making an important contribution to the information base underlying the government’s decision-making process.

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Tinderry Nature Reserve. Photo: S Cohen/OEH

OEH has collaborated with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to set criteria for ‘biophysical strategic agricultural land’ (BSAL) and used OEH’s soil data sets to produce a state-wide, regional scale map. This map provides the first indication to industry of possible areas of impact on high value agricultural land. More detailed mapping and data collection is now underway in areas that may be the focus of coal seam gas development.

OEH is also improving access to soils information. The OEH soils data storage information systems are being redesigned so they are open to industry and the community to both access and contribute data.

Protecting the health of NSW estuaries

OEH has been working with local government since 1998 to increase the understanding of the impacts of catchment development on the health of coastal lakes and estuaries in NSW.

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Nadgee Lake. Photo: J Neilson/OEH
Effective management of estuaries relies on sound information about processes and status, good decision making and effective communication. Scientific input to this process has come from OEH through three programs:


  • a state-wide estuary health monitoring program (includes over 130 estuaries)
  • specific research projects, generally funded by local government or the Environmental Trust
  • programs with local residents.

OEH has focused on questions directly related to the practical management of estuaries and their catchments and best value-for-money management actions.

Communication methods including public presentations, web material, and videos have been used to increase community understanding.

The level of knowledge of estuary function in NSW, on scales ranging from state-wide to habitats within estuaries, is greater than anywhere else in Australia. Recent exposure of the work to international audiences has shown that it is held in high regard. This work won the Innovation Award under the NSW Coastal Management Awards 2013.

OEH Knowledge Strategy

OEH has developed a Knowledge Strategy which lists priority knowledge needs for OEH and the EPA.

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Cover image: Knowledge strategy

The Knowledge Strategy ensures that our science aligns with management, policy and legislative needs. Some priorities are aspirational and best achieved through collaboration. The Knowledge Strategy also identifies opportunities for research partners and other organisations to work with OEH.

It has six knowledge themes:

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation
  • Coastal, Estuarine and Marine Environments
  • Landscape Management
  • Pollution
  • >Water and Wetlands

Further information is available at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/knowledgestrategy/index.htm.

Page last updated: 18 September 2015