Current Issues

Australian State of the Environment Report

The Australian State of the Environment (SoE) 2016 Overview was tabled in Parliament on 7 March 2017, as required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  The Australian Government conducts a review every five years and produces nine thematic reports (e.g. biodiversity, land, atmosphere), with information about condition, trends and pressures provided for each.  

The reports highlight that climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation, and invasive species remain the key environmental pressures.  Amplified by cumulative impacts, much of Australia’s environment is in decline.  The poor state and declining trend of Australia’s biodiversity is of particular concern, as are the increased pressures in coastal areas.  Key challenges to address include weak legislative frameworks, poor coordination of policies and management arrangements between different managers, translating policy into action, and insufficient resources.

The SoE reports can be accessed from the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy website.

States and territories of Australia also produce SoE reports, generally every three to five years.  The Government of Western Australia last produced a report in 2007, while all other States and Territories have produced reports within the past four years, with the exception of Tasmania (2009).

Commencement of Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 was partially proclaimed in the Government Gazette on 2 December 2016.  The Act will fully replace the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and the Sandalwood Act 1929 later this year once the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations have been made.
 
Certain provisions of the Act are now in operation, including the ability to establish biodiversity management programmes, and biodiversity conservation agreements and covenants.
 
The Act strengthens biodiversity conservation in Western Australia by providing for the recognition of threatened ecological communities, threatening processes and critical habitats.  It also provides incentives for conservation initiatives with private landowners, and new maximum penalties for illegal taking.
 
An InfoPage that summarises the new provisions of the Act can be found here.  Public consultation on the draft regulations will be invited this year, please refer to progress updates on the Department of Parks and Wildlife website here.


Commonwealth Threatened Species Strategy - Year One Review

Australia has a growing list of more than 1,800 plants and animals listed as threatened under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  The Commonwealth Government's Threatened Species Strategy was launched in July 2015, and establishes a five year action plan to protect and recover Australia's threatened plants and animals. 

In December 2016, the Threatened Species Commissioner released the Threatened Species Strategy - Year One Report.  Achievements included feral cat control, creation of predator-free sanctuaries, implementation of recovery projects for 10 priority threatened birds and 20 priority threatened mammals, and implementation of recovery projects in threatened species habitat.  The challenge of recovery is significant, with 49 new additions to the threatened species list in 2016 alone.  An InfoPage that summaries the report can be found here.


EPA Review of Effectiveness of Advice for Planning Schemes not Assessed under the EP Act 1986

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has reviewed the content and effectiveness of advice provided for planning schemes not assessed under section 48A of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.  An InfoPage that summaries the key outcomes can be found here

The Office of the EPA are developing process improvements and resources to assist local governments implement the identified improvements.  A briefing will be held at WALGA on Wednesday 22 March from 10 am to 12 pm, please email environment@walga.asn.au to register your interest in attending this event.


Biosecurity Position and Recommendations Paper released for Local Government feedback

WALGA has released a draft  Biosecurity Position and Recommendations Paper for comment by Local Government.


The purpose of this document is to:

  • outline WALGA’s existing and recommended future policy position on post border biosecurity;
  • summarise the sector's feedback to WALGA that underpins the recommended policy position;
  • provide a number of policy initiatives for the State Government to consider either independently or as part of the review of the BAM Act; and
  • provide a number of initiatibves considered beneficial to the overall governance and coordination of post border biosecurity under a 'shared responsibility', community based approach.
Local Government is invited to comment on WALGA's recommended draft policy position and the recommendations to the State Government before it is submitted to WALGA's State Council for its consideration. The closing date for comments is Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain – Endangered Status

The Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain were listed as an Endangered Ecological Community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 on 16 September 2016.

As a result, Local Governments need to consider the impacts of activities such as planning, infrastructure development and road maintenance on the ecological community and refer any actions likely to have a significant impact (direct or indirect) to the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) for assessment and compliance purposes. It is also a priority for land managers to protect and restore high quality Banksia Woodland remnants, and improve connectivity between patches.

WALGA hosted a briefing by DoEE officers on the implications of the listing and related matters of interest on Wednesday, 30 November 2016.  An InfoPage that summarises the key information and practical implications for Local Government can be found here.  An Information Guide to assist land managers to idenify, assess and manage the Banksia Woodlands community, along with the approved Conservation Advice, can be found on the DoEE website here.  

Resources

Climate Change Collaborators (C3)

WALGA hosts a quarterly Climate Change Collaborators meeting for Local Government officers to share work, hear presentations, and connect with new developments surrounding climate change.

State of the Climate 2016
At the Climate Change Collaborators meeting on Wednesday 15 February 2017, Glenn Cook from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) gave a BOM/CSIRO State of the Climate 2016 presentation.  You can view a range of State of the Climate materials on the BOM website here, including the report at a glance, full report and a range of short video presentations.
 

Bushfire Planning and Biodiversity Management Event

The Planning and Environment Policy Units at WALGA hosted a Bushfire Planning and Biodiversity Management Event on Wednesday, 22 February in Perth, and in Busselton on Friday, 10 March

Speakers for the day included experts from the Fire Protection Association of Australia, the Office of Bushfire Risk Management, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Greening Australia and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.  Local Government Authorities from Mundaring and Busselton provided case studies of applying the various bushfire regulations and policy requirements in practice.  The presentations can be found below (please note that they include those where consent was granted for upload).

Natural Area Management Network (NAMN) Forums

The NAMN Forums are designed to educate and bring together Local and State Government Natural Area Managment staff, and other interested agencies and parties, on a range of relevant issues. The Forums are run quarterly.

At the NAMN Forum in November 2016, the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Roadside Conservation Committee, the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council, the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, the WA Museum and the City of Joondalup presented on Weed Management.  The presentations can be found below (please note that they include those where consent was granted for upload).
At the NAMN Forum in August 2016, the Perth Zoo, DPaW and three Local Governments presented on Urban Fauna Management. Their presentations can be found below.

NAIA Templates and Database

Four Natural Area Initial Assessment (NAIA) templates were developed to help Local Governments assess site-specific ecological values, biodiversity significance and threats.  The templates mean data collection and assessment is consistent with regional scientific standards.

A database is available for Local Governments to store the data they collected using the NAIA Templates

Biodiversity Planning Guidelines for Local Governments

This document was developed to help Local Governments plan for the retention, protection and management of local biodiversity. Local Governments will follow a four-phase local biodiversity planning process resulting in the preparation of a Local Biodiversity Strategy.  

The Local Biodiversity Strategy will then guide:
  • A local planning policy for biodiversity conservation;
  • An action plan for managing biodiversity on Local Government land;
  • A strategy to provide incentives for conservation on private land; and
  • An amendment of the local planning strategy and town planning scheme.

Local Government Guidelines for Bushland Management

This document helps Local Governments to prioritise management actions for natural areas and to ensure that this management in line with biodiversity principles. By prioritising local reserves for management actions, Local Governments will:
  • Manage natural areas for long-term sustainability;
  • Justify funding requests on the basis of sound biodiversity conservation principles; and
  • Use resources effectively.

Environment and Sustainability Facts and Figures

The L ocal Government Environment and Sustainability report, produced by WALGA, aims to provide a snapshot of current environmental Local Laws and Policies that Local Governments have in place. It is intended that this report will be repeated on an annual basis, so WALGA can build a time series and monitor trends across the sector.

Past Environment Submissions

This document outlines all past Environment and Climate Change submissions.