Protected area establishment and management
A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed through legal or other effective means to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
All Australian governments have agreed to minimum standards that protected areas must meet to be included in the National Reserve System.
- The land must be designated a 'protected area' to be conserved forever, with effective legal means guaranteeing its perpetual conservation.
- The land must contribute to the comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness (CAR), of the National Reserve System - in other words it must meet certain scientific criteria and strategically enhance the protected area network. See the National Reserve System scientific framework for more information.
- The land must be managed to protect and maintain biological diversity according to one of six international classes developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The six-level system classifies protected areas according to their management objectives, which range from strict nature conservation to multi-use reserves (objectives must not be inconsistent with the primary purpose which is biodiversity conservation)
- For those who obtained Australian Government funding to establish and manage a property in the National Reserve System, there are additional guidelines and processes, related to management that must be followed.
The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a global environmental agreement which guides international action on biodiversity conservation, and provides a guiding framework to inform our domestic biodiversity conservation priorities.
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework is made up of global goals and targets for biodiversity conservation and restoration, including ensuring that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas, and of coastal and marine areas, are effectively conserved and managed. Australia has committed to protect and conserve 30 per cent of land and 30 per cent of oceans by 2030.
Australia is a world leader in protected areas, including through our Indigenous Protected Areas program and National Reserve System. Australia has one of the world’s largest representative systems of marine protected areas, covering 45 per cent of Australian waters.