Nature Conservation Act 1992 amendments
The second stage of reforms to the Nature Conservation Act 1992 have been passed by the Queensland Parliament through the Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (No.2) 2013. The Bill delivers a suite of amendments to the Nature Conservation Act 1992, Marine Parks Act 2004, Forestry Act 1959 and Recreation Areas Management Act 2006, aimed at:
- increasing access to national parks and other public lands
- achieving red tape reduction
- streamlining legislative processes.
This Bill will result in the most significant changes to the way that Queensland national parks and other protected areas are managed since the Nature Conservation Act was introduced in 1992.
It will result in national parks and other protected areas being managed more effectively, with a focus on the protection and appreciation of all the values these areas contain.
The Object of the Act remains the conservation of nature but it is being expanded to better provide for recreation and ecotourism opportunities in the protected area estate.
The Bill introduces three new additional objects to the Act, namely the:
- involvement of Indigenous people in the management of protected areas in which they have an interest under Aboriginal tradition and Island custom
- use and enjoyment of protected areas by the community and
- social, cultural and commercial use of protected areas in a way consistent with the natural, cultural and other values of the areas.
The Bill also cuts red tape by drastically reducing the large number of tenure categories within the Act—and creating a more streamlined and simplified approach to the management of protected areas. These changes to the tenure structure will occur progressively over the coming months.
In the future two main tenure categories will be used—national parks and regional parks. This will reduce confusion around the purpose of the many different types of protected areas, some of which have not been used since the introduction of the Act in 1992.
The cardinal principle of national park management—that a national park is managed to the greatest possible extent, for the permanent preservation of the area’s natural condition and the protection of its cultural resources and values—will not be changed.
On this basis national parks will continue to be managed around the conservation of their natural and cultural resources.
However, the management principles will be broadened to acknowledge that national parks also provide for educational, recreational and ecotourism opportunities that are consistent with each area’s natural and cultural values.
Management of regional parks will focus on a broader variety of uses including commercial and recreational purposes, while still having a focus on the natural and cultural values of these parks.
Mining and logging on national parks will remain strictly prohibited to ensure that these places are preserved forever.
The amendments provide civil immunity coverage to the Queensland Government in undertaking its responsibility to manage Queensland’s parks and forests.
At a time when the government wants to encourage the public to use our parks we are also being exposed to record levels of personal injury claims. The changes to civil liability provisions are a practical response to this trend.
The measures will not provide civil immunity coverage in all circumstances. This government is of the view that there are some things it should be responsible for managing—structures such as bridges, constructed lookouts, or controlled burns.
The amendments make it clear that in undertaking these management responsibilities, the State’s exposure to claims of negligence will remain unchanged.
For more information see the frequently asked questions.
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