Full descriptionThe National Parks and Wildlife Service was established by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1967 (Act No.35, 1967), but in fact had been formed administratively during the preceding months by the amalgamation of officers formerly attached to the Fauna Protection Panel, and the Parks and Reserve Branch of the Department of Lands, and functioned as a Branch of that Department. On 1 October 1967 the Service assumed an independent existence, with the Director of National Parks and Wildlife directly responsible to the Minister. (1)
The Act reserved twenty five areas, as National Parks, State Parks and Historic Sites, to be administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. (2) The prime objectives of the legislation were: the reservation of national and state parks and historic sites already in existence or to be provided in the future; and their preservation, care, control and management and to these ends, the bringing together in one service the related functions of national parks and fauna and flora protection.
The Act repealed the Kosciusko State Park and Ku-ring-gai Chase Acts and abolished the Fauna Protection Panel and office of the Chief Guardian of Fauna. Amendments to the Fauna Protection Act and Wildflowers and Native Plants Protection Act vested all the powers, duties and responsibilities contained in those Acts in the Director, National Parks and Wildlife Service.
A number of bodies were established under the 1967 legislation to advise the Service on various aspects of park and wildlife management, including the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council (3), the National Parks Advisory Committee of Architects (4), the Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Relics (5) and the non-statutory Parks and Reserves Scientific Committee. (6)
The Service was reconstituted under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (Act No.80, 1974) the purpose of which was to consolidate and amend the law relating to the establishment, preservation and management of national parks, historic sites and Aboriginal Sites. This legislation was effective from 1 January 1975.
"As a result of the Machinery of Government review, State Fisheries was transferred on 3 January 1975, from the portfolio of the Chief Secretary to the Minister for Lands and Forests and, together with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, formed one administrative unit under the control of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife Service as a Permanent Head". (7)
There was a reorganisation of the Head Office administrative structure in 1976 with the creation of the Environmental Education and Extension Services Section and the Scientific Services Section and the strengthening of the Protection Services Section. (8)
By the National Parks and Wildlife (State Recreational Areas) Amendment Act 1980 (Act No.80, 1980), responsibility for the administration of State Recreation Areas, previously with the Department of Lands, became that of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. These areas continued to be managed by the Trustees responsible to the Minister.
The Wilderness Act 1987 (Act No.196, 1987) consolidated the Service’s responsibility for the investigation, protection and management of wilderness in the State.
In 1995 the Urban Parks Authority was abolished and its functions transferred to the Service. (9)
During 1994-95 the Service "underwent a major restructure and a number of new functional areas were created. The aim of this organisational change was to help ensure a coordinated approach to the management of an integrated system of urban and regional parks with significant recreational facilities in natural settings".
The Environmental Policy Division within the Policy and Planning Directorate was responsible for formulating, developing and implementing environmental policies and procedures aimed at protecting, conserving and managing the heritage of NSW and providing input into Cabinet proposals;
The Conservation and Planning Assessment Division within the Policy and Planning Directorate was responsible for identifying, assessing and planning the conservation of nature and Aboriginal culture within NSW, and historic heritage within the reserve system;
The zone teams within the Policy and Planning Directorate were established to ensure the optimal delivery of the Service’s core business of nature and heritage conservation;
The Technical Services Directorate was created to manage and direct technical and scientific initiatives;
The Cultural Heritage Service Division within the Technical Services Directorate was responsible for carrying out original and relevant environmental research, representing the Service on scientific committees, providing comment and advice on research and surveys conducted outside the division;
The Geographic Information Systems Division within the Technical Services Directorate was responsible for maintaining a central archive of flora and fauna survey data, administering databases, and compiling and analysing biological, environmental and cultural data for State Index Map." (10)
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (Amendment) Act 1996 (Act No.58, 1996), added Regional Parks to the existing categories of land managed by the Service. Regional Parks were created to "provide open space and recreational opportunities in urban setting." (11)
The National Parks and Wildlife Service Amendment (Aboriginal Ownership) Act 1996 (Act No.142, 1996) enabled the transfer of ownership of dedicated areas to Aboriginal Land Councils. Transfer of ownership was subject to the areas being leased back to the Minister for the Environment under a joint Management regime. (12) In September 1998 the Mootwingee National Park, Mootwingee Historic Site, and Coturaundee Nature Reserve were the first dedicated areas to be transferred back. (13)
By 30 June 1997 the organisational structure of the Service was expanded to include an Aboriginal Heritage division. The purpose of the unit was to "provide a coherent and consistent approach to Aboriginal Heritage in the Service and ensure that Aboriginal Communities are able to participate in the management of their heritage." (14)
The Marine Park Act 1997 (Act No.64,1997) established the Marine Parks Authority, which was to be comprised of the Directors – General of NSW Fisheries, Premier’s Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The aim of the Act was to declare areas of water and adjoining land as Marine Parks in order to "conserve marine biological diversity and marine habitats and maintaining ecological process". (15)
In 1997-98 the Service had implemented the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (Act No.101, 1995). (16) The purpose of the act was principally to: conserve biological diversity and promote ecologically sustainable development; to prevent the extinction and promote the recovery of threatened species, populations and ecological communities; to protect the critical habitat of those threatened species, populations and ecological communities that are endangered; to eliminate or manage certain threatening processes; ensuring proper assessment of activities impacting threatened species, populations, and ecological communities. (17)
The NSW Scientific Committee was established in 1996 under s.127 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act: to consider threatened species nominations, and to decide which species, populations and ecological communities should be listed as endangered, vulnerable or extinct in New South Wales; deciding which threats to native plants and animals should be declared key threatening process under the Act; reviewing and updating lists of threatened species, populations and communities and key threatening process in the Schedules of the Act. (18)
The Service was restructured in 1998-99, following the completion in November 1998 of a major review of the Service commissioned by the State Government. (19) The restructure resulted in "a change in the composition of the executive, with the appointment of eight directors under the Director-General. Four of these Directors were regionally based and responsible for the on-the-ground activities across the state, while four directors lead corporate directorates". Two new corporate directorates, Policy and Science, and Community Programs were also created. (20)
In 2002-2003 most of the provisions of the National Parks Wildlife Service (Amendment) Act 2001 (Act No.130, 2001) commenced. The Act involved a number of significant amendments to the Principal Act including "a review of reserve types, standardisation of the system of reservation [of land], a consistent system of making plans of management, the insertion of management principles, increase in some penalties, a review of leasing powers and updating of provisions in relation to Aboriginal cultural heritage." (21)
The Threatened Species Conservation (Amendment) Act 2002 (Act No.78, 2002) modified the criteria for listing a population as endangered, and also added vulnerable ecological communities as a category that could be listed under the Act. These amendments were in response to a review of the Act by a Parliamentary Committee in 1997, which recommended "certain legislative amendments and procedural changes were required to better secure the [policy] objectives." (22)
After the election in March 2003 the Service was renamed the National Parks Service and the following responsibilities were removed: The Parramatta Parks Trust, and the staff responsible for the administration of Regional Parks under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 were transferred to the Department of Sport and Recreation; staff who were principally involved in the administration of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, and staff from the Threatened Species Support Unit; and staff who were principally involved the administration of the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 which were administered by the Minister for Natural Resources were to be transferred to the Department of Sustainable Natural Resources. As the whole wildlife function appeared to have been removed from the Service, it appeared to have been abolished and reconstituted as the National Parks Service. (23)
(1) National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1967 s.4 (12); NSW Government Gazette (No.103), 22 September 1967, p.3445.
(2) National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1967 - Second and Third Schedules.
(3) National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1967 s.9.
(4) National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1967 s.40.
(5) National Parks and Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 1969 s.33a.
(6) Report of the National Parks and Wildlife Services for the period 1 October, 1967 to 30 June, 1969 p.8 in Parliamentary Papers 1969-70-71, Volume 7 p.8.
(7) Public Service Board Annual Report, 1975, p.77.
(8) National Parks and Wildlife Service Annual Report, 1975, p.3, in NSW Parliamentary Papers 1976-77-78 volume 9 p.993.
(9) National Parks and Wildlife Service, Annual Report for the year 30 June 1995, p.5.
(10) Ibid., p.9.
(11) National Parks and Wildlife Service, Annual Report for the year 30 June 1997, p.9.
(12) Ibid. pp.8-9.
(13) National Parks and Wildlife Service, Annual Report for the year 30 June 1999, p.6.
(14) Annual report 1997, op. cit., p.6.
(15) Ibid., p.9.
(16) National Parks and Wildlife Service, Annual Report for the year 30 June 1998, p.6.
(17) Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 s.3.
(18) http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/About+the+NSW+Scientific+Committee (accessed 29/07/2004).
(19) National Parks and Wildlife Service, Annual Report for the year 30 June 1999, p.7.
(20) Ibid., p.9.
(21) National Parks and Wildlife Service, Annual Report for the year 30 June 2003, p.10.
(22) http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Threatened+Species+Conservation+Amendment+Act+2002 (accessed 19/08/2004).
(23) NSW Government Gazette (No.67), 2 April 2003, pp.4300-4333.
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