NSW State of the Environment 2012

About SoE 2012


New South Wales State of the Environment 2012 (SoE 2012) 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 eighth SoE report since 1993 and it was prepared by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

SoE 2012 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 2012 is structured differently from previous SoE reports. The first chapter, People and the Environment, considers the key drivers and pressures that can have an impact on the environment. This chapter incorporates sections on Urban Water, Energy, Transport, Waste and Noise that formerly appeared in an SoE chapter called Human Settlement. The remaining chapters of Atmosphere, Land, Water and Biodiversity are thematic and largely unchanged. An exception is that this year’s Biodiversity chapter no longer reports on fisheries resources. This is because the Status of Fisheries Resources in NSW 2008/09 (K. Rowling, A. Hegarty & M. Ives (eds) 2010, NSW Industry & Investment, Cronulla) provides a general overview of the state of marine and estuarine fish populations harvested by commercial and recreational fishers in NSW.

Although SoE 2012 has been prepared by the EPA, 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, information, analysis and interpretation, and reviewed the assembled content of the report. The EPA relies heavily on receiving this support from contributing agencies.

The specialist input also includes reviews and advice from independent experts as well as members of the SoE Executive Committee from the EPA and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Indicator summaries

SoE 2012 assesses each environmental indicator’s current status, its trend since SoE 2009, and the availability of information used to make an assessment against the indicator. The status and trend ratings depend on the extent and appropriateness of available information, both qualitative and quantitative, and the information availability rating signifies the level of information used to make the assessment.

Indicator presentation

Indicator and status


Information availability

Indicator status refers to the environmental condition of the indicator.

The trend describes the direction of significant change in indicator measures. It is generally judged over the reporting period between SoE 2009 and SoE 2012, and in the future may impact on the overall status of the indicator. The following descriptors have been used in SoE 2012:

Decreasing - The indicator measure is getting smaller.

Increasing - The indicator measure is getting larger.

Stable - There has been no significant change in the measure of the indicator.

Unknown - There is not enough information to determine a trend for the indicator.

Information availability describes the statewide extent, condition and ‘fitness for use’ of the data used for the indicator. It is represented by the symbols below.

good = Good

reasonable = Reasonable

limited = Limited

Green - Good: the data shows a positive or healthy environmental condition

Yellow - Moderate or fair: the data shows that the environmental condition is neither positive nor negative and results may be mixed across the state

Red - Poor: the data shows poor environmental condition or condition under significant stress

Grey - Unknown: insufficient data to make an assessment