The period covered by the last strategic plan, NPA Strategy 2018-2022, witnessed a truly shocking deterioration in the condition of nature across the globe.
During these five years the long-predicted impacts of a heating climate and habitat loss became all too real. In NSW, years of record-breaking drought saw massive loss of aquatic life as rivers ran dry, and culminated in fires that changed lives forever, burning more than 40% of the forest estate. The fires ended with an equally record-breaking series of destructive floods. A half decade that provided grave testimony to the increasingly unstable climatic systems produced by global warming.
These climatic stresses added to the habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from urban development, agriculture, infrastructure networks, invasive species, mining and the continuing diversion of inland waters. The impacts on our biodiversity have been devastating, with populations of once common native species in sharp decline and a steadily growing number of extinctions.
A dire situation, but one that generated a glimmer of hope. After years of inadequate action and in the face of impending environmental disaster, governments have finally started to take genuine notice of the perils of climate change and species loss. Heightened by pandemic isolation, there has been increasing awareness of the importance of natural places for people’s health and wellbeing.
Improving ecosystem protection helps stabilise the changing climate by sequestering and storing atmospheric carbon. The eucalypt forests of the Great Divide, old growth rainforests, alpine bogs and the wetlands, are some of the largest carbon stores on the planet. Protecting these ecosystems from disturbance, damage or development, and where necessary restoring their condition to a more natural state, is an essential part of combating both the climate and extinction crises.
There are growing international calls for a significant proportion of our land and seas to be managed for the primary purpose of nature conservation. The High Ambition Coalition, which now includes more than
50 nation states, including Australia, describes this movement as ‘a global deal for nature and people with the central goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. The 30 by 30 target is a global target which aims to halt the accelerating loss of species, and protect vital ecosystems that are the source of our economic security’.
The Australian Government formally adopted the 30by30 target in 2021.
Which land tenures and management approaches are the best way of delivering on the 30 by 30 targets will be the subject of vigorous debate over the coming years. What is beyond question is that the gold standard for conserving nature in the long term is the national parks, nature reserves and marine sanctuaries that make up our Protected Area Network.
It has taken nearly 150 years for Protected Areas to reach 10% of NSW, so even if some other tenures are counted against 30by30 the challenge of reaching 30% by 2030 cannot be overstated.
NPA commits to focusing our efforts and resources over the next 5 years on protecting, restoring and connecting natural areas across NSW, promoting, experiencing and appreciating nature and building a respected, resilient and vibrant organisation.
Protect, restore and connect natural areas across NSW
30 by 30 is implemented in NSW
NPA is committed to the expansion of the NSW network of national parks and reserves (Protected Areas), to a minimum of 30% of all terrestrial and marine bioregions by 2030. This will be done in accordance with Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative reserve selection principles, with a particular focus on habitat connectivity, biodiversity conservation, natural ecosystem processes and climate adaptation.
Maintain and improve the condition of NSW Protected Areas
NPA is committed to the maintenance (and where necessary restoration) of natural ecosystem processes, biodiversity and cultural heritage in Protected Areas and other high conservation value lands and waters across NSW.
Improve legal protections for nature in NSW
NPA is committed to improving planning processes and legal protections against inappropriate development and activities in Protected Areas and other high conservation value lands and waters in NSW.
Caring for country
NPA supports the reasonable expectations of First Nations peoples for an integral role in the care and management of their traditional estates and country. We acknowledged that First Nations people’s culture, knowledge and involvement are integral to the care and management of their traditional estates and country.
Promote, experience and appreciate nature
NPA is committed to expanding our nature-based activities so that individuals and communities from multiple generations and diverse backgrounds have the opportunity enjoy nature.
Build a respected, resilient and vibrant organisation
NPA needs to increase the future resource base available for the work described in this strategic plan by expanding membership, volunteer and staffing capacity, and funds.
NPA requires sound governance that meets legislative and community expectations and provides a solid foundation for NPA to carry out its mission.
NPA is committed to maintaining our status as experts in Protected Areas and other areas of exceptional conservation significance.
This strategy is ambitious, but the intertwined climate and extinction crises demand great ambition. It is not a time for caution but a time for bold action. NPA will make a significant contribution with the expectation that its actions will:
- Reverse or slow the loss of biodiversity, native vegetation cover and ecosystem services such as clean water and carbon sequestration;
- Improve the health and resilience of ecosystems in the face of a rapidly changing environment;
- Slow the net growth in NSW’s greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon in intact ecosystems (particularly forests, woodlands and wetlands) in well managed protected areas;
- Expand the level of understanding, appreciation and contact with nature with more people experiencing delight in nature’s variety and wonder, and becoming more highly motivated to support its protection and conservation;
- Leave a world worthy for future generations where bushland, waterways and seas are esteemed and valued as essential for health, wellbeing and the conservation of native plants and animals;
- Catalyse radical reforms to environment, planning and natural resource management laws that affirm and enforce society’s fundamental responsibility for protecting nature; and
- Fortify NPA as a robust, rigorous and proactive organisation that provides its supporters with flexible avenues for engagement.