WALGA undertakes both policy and projects covering a range of environmental issues, creates awareness about specific environmental issues and provides resources to support Local Government Officers and Elected Members.

Key Policy Areas and Projects

Current Issues

Better Urban Forest Planning Guide

The loss of urban green space and native vegetation is a very important issue for Local Government, particularly in urban areas where there is clearing of land for infill and greenfield development. Reduced canopy cover impacts on public amenity, human health and biodiversity and as trees are often replaced with hard surfaces, this generally leads to increases in average temperatures creating urban heat islands. This often results in increased energy and water use for homes and businesses.

The changing climate is also playing a role, with increasing average air temperatures, declining rainfall and more extreme heat events. This will not only exacerbate the impacts on the health and wellbeing of the community but will affect tree retention and management for Local Governments.

To assist Local Government, WALGA along with the Western Australian Planning Commission and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage released the Better Urban Forest Planning Guide in November 2018. The Guide will assist Councils, developers and government agencies in their planning and policies around urban greening, tree retention and replacement. It includes information on planning, market based and regulatory ‘tools’, case studies that highlight ‘best-practice’ actions and how to access CSIRO’s Urban Monitor data, which is also available on WALGA’s Environmental Planning Tool.

For more information, please contact  Craig Perry or Laura Simes, Environment Policy Advisor, on 9213 2049.

Assessment of the capacity of Local Government to implement environmental management and sustainability

 In 2017, WALGA and Perth NRM undertook a survey of Local Government and Natural Resource Management organisations to inform the environment and sustainability programs and support that each organisation offers to the sector.  The final report on the outcomes of the survey was published in October 2018.

Natural area management was identified as having the highest levels of adoption of best practice, with Local Governments reporting competency for areas such as bushland restoration and bushfire risk management.  Organisational sustainability had the greatest capacity gaps for areas such as State of the Environment monitoring and changing community behaviour.  Some areas were not addressed by a fifth of Local Governments, including Aboriginal cultural heritage and water sensitive urban design.  Top issues Local Governments are currently dealing with include urban forest management, climate change, water availability and waste management.

The resources provided by WALGA and WA’s seven NRM organisations were reported as highly valued. Further actions to support the sector include increasing the ability of Local Government to engage with and educate local communities, facilitating the exchange of best practice knowledge and skills between government and land managers, and working with stakeholders to ensure research priorities and legislative or policy reviews incorporate the needs of local government.

WALGA has provided an InfoPage that summarises the key findings of the report.  For more information, please contact  Melanie Davies, Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer, on 9213 2065.


WALGA submission on the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Regulations and Ministerial Guidelines

The Western Australian Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) will replace the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (WC Act) and Sandalwood Act 1929 when it is fully proclaimed. Biodiversity Conservation Regulations (BC Regulations) have been developed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). The BC Regulations are intended to commence on 1 January 2019, and will replace the Wildlife Conservation Regulations 1970 and Sandalwood Regulations 1993.

The BC Regulations provide for the licensing and management of activities that affect biodiversity.  Ministerial Guidelines have also been prepared, which provide detail on the criteria and procedures for the listing of threatened species and ecological communities, other specially protected species, critical habitat and key threatening processes. 

WALGA lodged a submission with DBCA which supports the increased protection for biodiversity conservation in Western Australia, and makes comment on particular activities and licensing arrangements contained in the regulations.  Among the changes are the introduction of regulation for the sale of commercial firewood and log timber, and harvesting of sandalwood, from private property.  Changes to species listed as Managed Fauna, and the take areas, will also be introduced.  The submission can be found here and further information is provided in WALGA's InfoPage.  For more information, please contact  Melanie Davies, Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer, on 9213 2065.
 

Managed Fauna provisions under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 Regulations

The Western Australian Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) will replace the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and associated Wildlife Conservation Regulations 1970 when it is fully proclaimed. Biodiversity Conservation Regulations are currently being developed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. These Regulations are intended to commence on 1 January 2019.

Some species of fauna protected under the BC Act can cause significant damage or have major impacts on other native species.  These species are referred to as ‘Managed Fauna’ and the areas where they can be taken are known as Managed Fauna areas.  Species prescribed as managed fauna include the Australian raven, Eastern long-billed corella, Little corella, Galah, Rainbow lorikeet and Sulphur-crested cockatoo. 

Similar to the Open Season notices that existed under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, Managed Fauna may only be taken under certain circumstances.  Landowners and occupiers intending to take Managed Fauna should also be aware of their responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act 2002.   Please refer to WALGA's InfoPage for more information, or contact Nicole Matthews, Environment Policy Manager, on 9213 2039


Recommendation to declare the feral cat as a pest in Western Australia

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has completed a technical assessment and recommended that the feral cat is declared as a pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007.  The technical assessment and recommendation follows the Australian Government listing predation by cats as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), and an agreement in July 2015 from Environment Ministers from across Australia to enable effective and humane control of feral cats in each of their jurisdictions.

Should the recommendation be accepted by the Minister, DPIRD will not enforce landholders to undertake management activities.  Rather, declaration will enhance landscape scale management activities through better coordination of government and community programs. 

DPIRD is also developing a draft policy aimed at mitigating the risk of harm to domestic pet cats.  WALGA will keep the sector updated on opportunities to comment on the draft policy. Please refer to WALGA's InfoPage for more information, or contact Melanie Davies, Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer, on 9213 2065. 
 

Australia's Strategy for Nature 2018 - 2030:  WALGA interim submission

In November 2017, Australian, State and Territory Environment Ministers agreed to revise “Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: 2010- 2030” based on the findings of a review into the first five years of the strategy’s implementation. The public comment period for the revised “Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory”closed on Friday, 16 March. 

WALGA coordinated a submission on behalf of the Local Government sector.  The submission recommends significant revision of the strategy to provide a strong national framework for biodiversity conservation, identify outcomes and set measurable targets, and commit adequate funding for implementation and monitoring of results.  WALGA's submission can be viewed here.

For further information, please contact Melanie Davies, Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer, or call 9213 2065.

EnviroNews

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