Nature has both an intrinsic value in and of itself and an instrumental value as the environmental infrastructure that underpins our economy and sustains our community. That is why the state of the environment has a profound effect on our quality of life and the health of our economy. Reporting on the state of the environment helps us to take stock of environmental conditions in our state, to identify emerging issues and to take effective action for ourselves, for future generations and for the environment.
I am pleased to present the Environment Protection Authority’s ninth NSW State of the Environment. This report supports the work the EPA already undertakes by outlining the status and condition of major environmental resources and the associated environmental trends and implications for the environment and human health. The report uses the most up-to- date information from a range of government agencies and authorities.
This latest report explains the challenges we have overcome, notes the issues we are still working on, and explores emerging challenges. Air quality continues to be generally good overall, with low concentrations of lead, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Ozone and particle pollution levels require ongoing attention.
Industry and household waste disposed of in landfill is decreasing and garden and food waste recycling is increasing. The NSW Government is combating illegal dumping and funding emergency pollution clean-ups, such as those for illegally dumped asbestos.
Since 2012, the area of public land reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 has increased by about 26,600 hectares. This includes significant reservations in the South Coast (Dharawal National Park), Sydney (Berowra Valley), Darling Riverine Plains (Warrambool) and near Moree (the Gwydir wetland). The Conservation Partners Program has helped encourage and support conservation on private land, which is of growing importance to restore connected, resilient landscapes.
There are several challenges that we are working to address, such as the decline of NSW threatened species and our greenhouse gas emissions.
The government’s Saving our Species program was established to protect all threatened species over the next century and has been bolstered with $100 million over the next 5 years, and the legislative reform we are undertaking will help safeguard biodiversity at a bioregional scale.
The government is also implementing its Renewable Energy Action Plan and the Energy Efficiency Action Plan in order to increase the use of sustainable energy sources and improve energy efficiency, to continue the downward trajectory of NSW emissions.
NSW State of the Environment 2015 reminds us that challenges also present opportunities. They present the opportunities to improve our economy, our environment, and our health and amenity at the same time, through ecologically sustainable development. The government is committed to working with communities, industry and other stakeholders to better protect and conserve the environment, to enhance our wellbeing, and to meet the challenges ahead.
Minister for the Environment