Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (New South Wales)
The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (formerly Department of Environment and Conservation and Department of Environment and Climate Change) (DECC) was the peak environmental regulator in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Formerly a NSW Government Agency it was created in September 2003 from the merger of:
- the Environment Protection Authority,
- the National Parks and Wildlife Service,
- the Botanic Gardens Trust, and
- Resource NSW.
The Department was renamed in April 2007 as part of the merger of the former Department of Natural Resources and NSW Greenhouse Office with the Department of Environment and Conservation. In 2011, following the election of a new State Government, the Department was broken up with its responsibilities split between the new Office of Environment and Heritage (part of the Department of Premier and Cabinet) and the Department of Industry and Investment.
The former department was responsible for:
- management of flora and fauna
- promotion of environmentally sustainable consumption and production
- protection of the state's cultural heritage, particularly Aboriginal cultural heritage
- regulation of air and water quality, noise, chemicals, radiation and waste disposal
The organisation had strong links with the Sydney Catchment Authority.
The department was headed by Director-General Lisa Corbyn and headquartered in Sydney, with offices across the city and state.
The department consisted of seven functional areas: ~ Climate Change, Policy and Programs Group ~ Environment Protection and Regulation Group ~ Parks and Wildlife Group ~ Botanic Gardens Trust ~ Corporate Services Division ~Culture and Heritage Division ~ Scientific Services Division
Although an agency of the NSW government, the department included a number of independent boards and committees. The management of the Botanic Gardens overseen by the Botanic Gardens Trust. The powers of the Environment Protection Authority - exercised by the department, sometimes to investigate or prosecute government agencies - are formally vested in an independent board.
Threatened species determinations are made by an Independent Scientific Committee. A number of advisory councils have been established to allow community members to have a say in the management of parks and reserves.
The department and its predecessor, the Environment Protection Authority, have run a number of highly-publicised campaigns on pollution-related issues, many of them in conjunction with local government. Priority areas have included keeping stormwater clean, monitoring water pollution at ocean and harbour beaches, litter reduction and air quality management.
Parks and Wildlife
The Parks and Wildlife division is referred to in the department's external communications by its pre-merger name, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The NPWS manages over 660 protected areas in the state, including Kosciuszko National Park, Sydney Harbour National Park, Royal National Park and the Blue Mountains National Park.
With the national parks estate covering around 10 per cent of New South Wales, the department is a significant player in debates over land management in the state. The NPWS has a significant amount of responsibility for fire management in the state, and is often the target of criticism when Sydney - the so-called "city in a national park" - is threatened by bushfire.
As a land manager, the NPWS must also address pest management issues. The status of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park and deer in Royal National Park is particularly contested, with many park users viewing these introduced species as having heritage value.
The New South Wales Labor government under Bob Carr sought to significantly increase the size of the national parks estate. This was despite funding constraints, meaning that funding per unit area has fallen in recent years. A large number of parks and reserves in the NPWS estate lack detailed plans of management and fire management strategies.
Botanic Gardens Trust
The Botanic Gardens Trust manages four parkland areas in and around metropolitan Sydney.
The department is mirrored at a national level by the Department of the Environment and Heritage. Some protected areas in metropolitan Sydney are protected by other agencies, including local councils, the Centennial Park Trust, the Sydney Olympic Park Trust, and the Australian Government's Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. Elsewhere in the state are protected areas managed by the Marine Parks Authority of New South Wales and the State Parks of New South Wales.
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