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Reforming the Qld Nature Conservation Act

The Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act) is almost 25 years old and support for a refresh is growing. At this recent sold-out event in Brisbane on 15 June, participants were given the opportunity to challenge the framework of the Act related to wildlife management. From this the foundation of a wish list for change was developed.

Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) South East Queensland Division and Ecology Special Interests Section hosted the event.

The timing for this was excellent considering the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) is embarking on a critical review of the subordinate Nature Conservation Regulations within the next twelve months to identify areas for improvement and streamlining. Geoff Clare, Deputy Director-General, Conservation and Sustainability Services at DEHP, explained this process and also detailed the significant investment of funds into managing contentious human-wildlife interactions such as flying-foxes and Saltwater Crocodiles.

David Francis, Principal Environmental Scientist at Cardno shared his thoughts on the Protected Plants framework and High Risk areas. David identified the issues faced by environmental practitioners due to the inaccurate mapping used to identify High Risk areas for protected plants and the onerous survey requirements within such areas that do not take into account the ecology of the species being surveyed for. Potential areas for improvement included:
 
  • Trigger area buffer reduction and remove highly modified environs.

  • Habitat modelling.

  • Creating low risk and high risk triggers for clearing activities.

  • Accrediting existing mapping or alternative processes in some instances. 

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    Aaron Organ, Director and Principal Ecologist at Ecology and Heritage Partners, provided an introduction to the regulation of threatened species in Victoria and particularly those species that occur within Melbourne’s growth areas. Participants were astounded by the outcomes of the Melbourne Strategic Assessment including how vegetation and habitat areas are ‘time-stamped’, how environmental offsets are applied routinely for compensating for loss of ecological values, and particularly the fees that are paid for offsets for certain species’ habitats.

    To close the seminar, delegates workshopped their thoughts on the NC Act framework. Ideas were discussed by the panel of speakers and noted for inclusion into an EIANZ submission to DEHP. Ideas generated included:
     

    • Greater use of Strategic Assessments within Queensland and particularly SEQ.

    • Greater linkages with the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 such as has been done with assessment of Koala habitat in SEQ and essential habitat within the Vegetation Management Act 1999.

    • Simplify the NC Act to focus on protected areas, wildlife protection and criminal offences for taking of wildlife.

    • Overhaul the use of Species Management Programs and consider a holistic approach to fauna and fauna habitat management.

    • Focus on compliance and enforcement rather than assessment.

    • Consider incentive-based regulation.

    • Involve the community in the wildlife management framework.

    The output of the seminar will be a submission to DEHP, which will discuss the ideas presented above and at the seminar and will present solutions to some of the issues faced by practitioners.

    Our staff are regular contributors to ecological and cultural heritage policy development at both a state and national level. If you have any concerns or suggestions related to the Nature Conservation Act 1992, or would like to discuss the implications for your project, please contact us on 1300 839 325.





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