At a glance
Reservation on public land and the use of covenants and private reserves on private land in Tasmania are key means to conserve our biodiversity. However, reservation does not provide absolute protection, nor is it the only means of conservation. Even reserves are susceptible to undesirable wildfires and disease outbreaks, such as Phytophthora, or pest invasions like the European red fox. Therefore, processes and events that threaten biodiversity may not always be managed through reservation.
Off-reserve conservation is recognised as having an important role in the conservation of biological diversity. This is particularly the case in areas where the reserve network does not adequately conserve native plant and animal communities and habitat. Nevertheless, reserves are an important response in protecting habitat and improving the coverage of the reserve system continues to be a focus of management action.
There are 589 formal reserves covering about 2,606,260 ha (38%) of the land area of the State and about 83,000 ha (3.5%) of the marine environment.
This 'At a glance' section provides an overview of the issue of reservation. More detailed information and references are available in the Reservation Issue Report. Seven indicators are presented in this issue that report on terrestrial (including rivers, riparian vegetation and catchments), estuarine and marine protected areas; wetland reservation; the protection offered by land tenure against land cover change; and the proportion of Natural Heritages Places management plans.
A recommendation addressing the Conservation and Reservation of biodiversity is provided, as well as a related recommendation on Conservation and Management of Coastal and Marine Biodiversity.
- Together with the Australian Alps and Cape York Peninsula, South-West Tasmania is recognised (Australian State of the Environment Committee 2001) as a region having among the highest levels of reservation nationally.
- Since 1996, one Marine Protected Area has been declared around Macquarie Island, south of Tasmania. It is the largest marine reserve in the world.
- In compliance with the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biodiversity, Tasmania is committed to establishing a reserve system over land, freshwater and marine systems which is comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) of the natural elements it protects.
- The CAR reserve system under the Regional Forest Agreement has resulted in 458,000 ha of new reserves containing 293,000 ha of forest. A framework has also been established through the Regional Forest Agreement to retain 80% of the 1996 area of forest Statewide. Within each bioregion, 50% of the 1996 area of each forest community needs to be retained.
- The Private Forests Reserve Program and the Protected Areas on Private Land Program are responding to the need to protect the many species and communities that do not occur on public reserved land.
- The Bushwalking and Track Review has been established to develop solutions to impacts associated with overnight bushwalking in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
- In 1998, the Australian Government, states and territories endorsed the Guidelines for Establishing the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas - ANZECC Task Force on Marine Protected Areas 1998.
- Following this, in 2001, DPIWE released the Tasmanian Marine Protected Areas Strategy. On 14 August 2001, the Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment, issued a reference to the Resource Planning and Development Commission to conduct an inquiry and make recommendations on the establishment of a marine protected area within the Davey and Twofold Shelf marine bioregions.
- DPIWE released a report entitled A Wetlands Strategy for Tasmania - Draft Discussion Paper in 2000.
- Althougth 38% of the land area and 3.5% of the marine environment of Tasmania are under reserves (only 0.06% or 1,416 ha lies in the immediate marine area around the State), the various habitat types are very unevenly represented, and many species and plant communities are not found in current reserves. For example, it is estimated that only 0.05% of Tasmania's marine species occur in reserves.
- Six of the eight terrestrial bioregions in Tasmania have more than 80% of their area outside any type of reserve. The situation is particularly critical in the Northern Midlands where 97.4% of the region is outside any type of public or private reserve.
- Of the nine marine bioregions in Tasmania, only three contain marine reserves.
- Even in formal reserves, land cover disturbance continues to occur through such impacts as inappropriate fire regimes, recreational activities and pests and diseases. The demand for use of some areas continues to jeopardise the values that their reserve status confers. Conservation Areas, in particular, have a poor record in relation to land cover disturbance and erosion.
- There were no fully protected estuaries out of the 111 present in Tasmania. Only parts of one estuary, the D'Entrecasteaux, have been protected, including the areas at Tinderbox (52 ha) and Ninepin Point (63 ha).
- Rivers, wetlands and riparian vegetation generally have a poor reservation status in Tasmania. For example, only five out of ten Ramsar sites (i.e. internationally significant wetlands) are wholly protected, and one partly protected, within secure reserves.
- Management plans are only required for reserves administered under the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002 and the Forestry Act 1920. Of the 398 reserves managed under the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002, only 49 have approved management plans and 53 have management plans in preparation. However, the approved management plans cover 66.9% of the total reserved land under this Act. All of the forest reserves managed under the Forestry Act 1920 have management plans. However, the National Land and Water Resources Audit (NLWRA 2001), in its biodiversity assessment of Tasmania's bioregions, identified considerable variation in the effectiveness of reserve management, as well as the comprehensiveness, adequacy and respresentativeness of the reserve systems.
- There is uncertainty about the impact of the numbers of bushwalkers and other recreational users within reserves, due to limited monitoring. Without this data there is limited information to allow reserve managers to assess the effectiveness of management actions that aim to limit their impact.
- The extent to which genetic diversity is conserved in Tasmania is very uncertain due to scarce information.
- There is some uncertainty about priorities for wetland and riparian reservation because of a lack of detailed inventories, although there is sufficient information to improve the status of protection for internationally recognised Ramsar wetland sites and other national and State priority wetlands.