The Nature Conservation Act was enacted by the Parliament of Queensland, Australia in 1992 for the purpose of protecting its national parks, nature refuges and wildlife areas. The act mandates gathering information and identifying critical habitats so as to effectively manage the native wildlife and cultural heritage of Queensland. The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) is the governmental agency responsible for administering the act.
1. Conservation Management:
DERM was formed in 2009 with the merger of the Department of Natural Resources and Water and the Environmental Protection Agency. As part of its responsibility for administering the Nature Conservation Act, DERM is developing management profiles for all ecosystems and species located in Queensland. The profiles are designed to achieve improved conservation by: (1) sufficiently identifying the wildlife and vegetation in each ecosystem; (2) identify threats posed to these areas; and (3) provide guidance for best-management practices to minimize identified threats.
2. Threatened Species:
Under the NCA, all native wildlife is protected, yet some native animals and plants have declined in numbers and are in danger of becoming extinct. Part of DERM’s management responsibility includes categorizing threatened species using these classifications: extinct in the wild, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened and least concern. Currently there are 16 mammals, 15 frogs, 14 birds, eight reptiles, four fish and two butterflies that are considered endangered in Queensland.
3. Nature Refuges:
The NCA recognizes the importance of community participation in nature conservation and, in furtherance of that goal, DERM promotes nature refuges as one such community-based approach. A nature refuge is a voluntary agreement between a private land owner and the government that acknowledges the owner’s commitment to manage and preserve the land in accordance with conservation values. The agreement also recognizes the owner’s use of the land to generate an income and maintain a standard of living that is sustainable and compatible with conservation values. Nature refuges currently comprise the second-largest expanse of protected areas in Queensland.
4. Parks and Forests:
DERM’s management of Queensland’s national parks and forests is intended to provide for the permanent preservation of the area’s natural condition, protected from human interference. Recreational activities in these areas are regulated by the department and must conform to its rules. Queensland’s national park are set aside forever and can only be revoked or canceled by an act of Parliament.
5. Cultural Heritage:
An important part of Queensland’s cultural heritage is Aboriginal rock art found throughout the Central Queensland Sandstone Belt, some dating back 19,000 years. The images left on stone by the area’s Aboriginal people are some of the most significant in Australia and its importance is recognized worldwide. Aboriginal people and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service work together to protect these places. Damaging or even touching Aboriginal rock art is a serious offense under the Nature Conservation Act.