About SoE 2006
New South Wales State of the Environment 2006 (SoE 2006) reports on the status of the main environmental issues facing NSW. The report has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of section 10 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991. This is the sixth such report prepared by the Department of Environment and Conservation NSW (DEC) (which now incorporates the NSW Environment Protection Authority), with previous reports published in 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2003.
SoE 2006 aims to provide credible, scientifically based, statewide environmental information to assist those involved in environmental policy- and decision-making and managing the State's natural resources.
SoE 2006 is structured around six major themes: Toward Environmental Sustainability, Human Settlement, Atmosphere, Land, Water and Biodiversity. Thirty-seven environmental issues are reported within these themes through environmental data for 71 environmental indicators. These indicators are consistent with those covered in previous reports and align closely with the core environmental indicators approved by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) in March 2000. The indicators will be reviewed for the next State of the Environment report, due in 2009, to take into account the statewide natural resources targets, and to ensure clear definitions throughout.
Although SoE 2006 has been prepared by DEC, much of the material it contains results from extensive input by a wide range of government agencies, other organisations and individual specialists who provided data, analysis and interpretation, and reviewed the assembled content of the report. DEC relies heavily on receiving such support from contributing agencies.
The specialist input also includes the advice and support of six independent scientific experts as well as members of the NSW State of the Environment Advisory Council, which in 2006 was formed from a subcommittee of the EPA Board. The Acknowledgments section lists the experts and advisory council members. As in previous reports, the Minister for the Environment has invited the advisory council to prepare an open letter on the preparation of SoE 2006 and this is included in the report.
Indicator summaries and ratings
SoE 2006 assesses each environmental indicator's status, its trend since SoE 2003 and the quality of available information. A colour code is used to show the status, and the basis for the ratings is summarised. Main responses are also described.
The status and trend ratings depend on the extent and appropriateness of the data available and therefore the information quality rating signifies the confidence level for each rating.
The indicator ratings and colours used in SoE 2006 are more refined than those in SoE 2003 in which a colour was used to symbolise the combined status and trend, and where there was no rating of information quality.
Indicator status refers to the environmental condition of the indicator:
- Green is used if the data for the indicator is considered to show a generally positive or healthy environmental condition.
- Amber indicates that the environmental condition is neither positive nor negative. This could be because the data demonstrates a moderate overall status or the results are mixed across different areas of the State.
- Red is used if the available data shows that there is generally a poor environmental condition or the condition is under significant stress.
- Grey is used where there is insufficient information to make an assessment.
The indicator trend describes the direction of any change in environmental condition, and is generally judged over the reporting period between SoE 2003 and SoE 2006. It may also include information or projections on future trends where available.
- improving – the data shows a generally positive trend
- stable – the condition of the indicator is essentially unchanged
- deteriorating – the available data shows that the trend is mostly negative
- unclear – the results are mixed across different areas or there is no obvious trend
- not assessable – there is insufficient information.
Information quality is described as good, moderate or poor, to describe the appropriateness of the data to the indicator.
A poor data quality rating may mean that:
- there is no data on which to base a rating
- there is insufficient data on a statewide basis
- the data is not of a high enough standard on which to base a rating
- the data does not relate closely to the indicator and so is not fit for the purpose.
Where there is insufficient suitable data or expert advice to make a judgement, the status or trend may be considered not assessable.
Response(s) summarises the most significant responses that address issues relevant to the indicator.