Nature Conservation Act 1992 amendment FAQ
The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 10 May 2016, reversing a number of amendments made to the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) and other legislation by the previous government that did not align with the current government’s commitments and priorities for the protected area estate.
When do the changes commence?
The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (NCOLA Act) commenced on 25 May 2016 and most of the changes commenced immediately. The remaining provisions, which relate to changes in the classes of protected area, will commence on 1 July 2016.
Has the object of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) changed?
Yes. The change to the object of the NCA has reinstated the conservation of nature as the primary purpose of the NCA, while also continuing to recognise the important role indigenous people play in managing protected areas. The object of the NCA is now:
The object of this Act is the conservation of nature while allowing for the involvement of indigenous people in the management of protected areas in which they have an interest under Aboriginal tradition or Island custom.
Have there been any changes to the classes of protected area?
Yes. The national park (scientific), conservation park and resources reserve classes of protected area, and their associated management principles, are being reinstated.
There are nine former national parks (scientific) that will be reinstated as national parks (scientific).
The changes will remove the ability to declare special management areas (scientific) due to the reinstatement of the national park (scientific) class of protected area.
The regional park class of protected area will be removed and these areas will be reinstated as either conservation parks or resources reserves, effectively returning them to the class they were before the previous government’s amendments were introduced. The former national park (recovery) class is not being reinstated at this time and these former areas remain amalgamated with national parks with special management areas (controlled action) declared over them.
These changes commence on 1 July 2016.
What are national parks (scientific)?
National parks (scientific) are set aside for the protection of highly significant natural values and represent the highest level of protection under the NCA. These areas have special values that lend themselves to research and scientific purposes, and are therefore managed to strictly limit human access, use and impacts to ensure protection of conservation values.
There are nine national park areas that will be reinstated as national parks (scientific):
- Capricornia Cays National Park (scientific)
- Dipperu National Park (scientific)
- Epping Forest National Park (scientific)
- Keppel Bay Islands National Park (scientific)
- Mount Abbot National Park (scientific)
- Mount Bauple National Park (scientific)
- Palmgrove National Park (scientific)
- Raine Island National Park (scientific)
- Taunton National Park (scientific).
Information is available on the management of these parks.
What are conservation parks and resources reserves?
Like national parks, conservation parks and resources reserves are set aside to protect biodiversity and natural and cultural features. These areas are generally smaller and may be of lesser conservation significance than national parks and, therefore, can allow for a wider range of uses than national parks.
Development is also usually limited to low key, nature-based recreation and tourism facilities, however, essential public infrastructure may be allowed. Resources reserves can be used for controlled levels of resource extraction such as mining or quarrying.
Are there any implications for traditional owners in Queensland?
The reference to indigenous people in the management of protected areas has been retained in the object of the NCA, ensuring strong recognition of the important link between the conservation of areas and the historical role of indigenous people as stewards of Queensland’s natural landscape.
The amendments made by the NCOLA Act also include a requirement that amendments to management plans be jointly prepared with indigenous landholders of national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land) and indigenous joint management areas (i.e. North Stradbroke Island). This formalises existing processes for amending management plans for these parks.
Similarly, the amendments formalise the requirement that consent be received from indigenous landholders of national parks (CYPAL) and indigenous joint management areas before declaring special management areas (controlled action) over these parks.
Finally, the amendments streamline the process of converting regional parks (which revert back to resources reserves and conservation parks on 1 July 2016) to national parks (CYPAL) under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991.
Are there any other changes affecting management plans?
Provisions that previously allowed management plans under the NCA, Marine Parks Act 2004 and Recreation Areas Management Act 2006 to be amended without public consultation if the amendments related to a change in State government policy, have been removed. Public consultation will now be required in these circumstances.
Do the changes impact on stock grazing permits?
No, stock grazing permits are not affected.
The provisions in the NCA which allowed the chief executive to grant stock grazing permits for emergency drought relief in six prescribed national parks until 31 December 2013 have been removed as they were redundant.
How do the changes impact on rolling term leases under the Land Act 1994?
Amendments to the Land Act 1994 have automatically reverted approximately 70 rolling term leases for agriculture, grazing or pastoral purposes back to term leases. Affected leases are those which are wholly or partly on land that is national park (all classes), regional park (being reinstated as ‘conservation park’ or ‘resources reserve’ on 1 July 2016) or forest reserve.
The remaining term of the lease, conditions of the lease and uses authorised by the lease have not changed.
Rolling term leases for agriculture, grazing or pastoral purposes, which do not cover national park, regional park or forest reserve (i.e. leases which are on State forest or any other land tenure), are not affected by the amendments and continue as rolling term leases with no change.
For information about leases under the Land Act 1994 please contact the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.