I am pleased to present the sixth NSW State of the Environment report prepared by the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, with guidance from the State of the Environment Advisory Council and independent scientific experts.
NSW State of the Environment 2006 is a thorough and broad-ranging report to the people of NSW, the custodians and beneficiaries of our environment. It details the condition of the environment across the State, as well as the responses we have put in place to the challenges identified and areas for future improvement.
NSW is blessed with unique and diverse natural and cultural resources and a community that places a high value on the environment. So it is encouraging that the report shows continued progress in the quality of our air and water. The quality of our urban drinking water remains high, although the recent drought highlights continuing pressures on our water supply.
We have achieved much in creating our world class national parks, preserving our rainforests and western forests and enacting landmark laws to clean up the contamination that remains as a legacy of our industrial past. The greatest environmental challenges we now face are the protection of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and the health of our soils. The pressures on our natural systems arise from competing land use claims associated with increased production and development, which in turn are related to our healthy, growing economy.
All of these complex issues are compounded by the threat of global climate change. There is an increasing need to balance the books for the carbon budget by reducing our energy consumption and switching to more sustainable energy sources.
Developed economies should set good examples as members of the global community. NSW is fulfilling its role as a responsible member of the global community and is taking positive action to address climate change.
The NSW Government is committed to a diverse range of environment protection programs to meet these challenges. During the three-year period covered by this report, we have made further major reforms to natural resource legislation, covering water, vegetation, threatened species and planning. NSW has also led the way in Australia with its greenhouse plan and is spearheading work on a national emissions trading scheme. It is too early to quantify the effects of these legislative and policy reforms for the purposes of this report, but there is no doubt they are taking us in the right direction.
The Government is continuing its commitment to building strong partnerships with the community, landholders, industry, independent experts and other stakeholders to develop new ways to consolidate and continue the progress we have made. The development of the NSW State Plan reinforces the importance of these partnerships in its 'Environment for Living' priority.
NSW State of the Environment 2006 is an important reference for measuring our progress as well as a resource for all who care about the environment of this State. I thank all those involved in contributing both to the report and to the programs that protect our State's environment.
Minister for the Environment