The first national park in Australia was the National Park (later Royal
National Park) south of Sydney, reserved in 1879. The National Park was a Crown
reserve, established not for nature conservation but for lawns and gardens and
Early legislation to protect species in New South Wales focussed on those
plants and animals considered cute and cuddly' or pleasing to the eye (pages
2-3). The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1967 established national
parks, state parks, nature reserves and the National Parks and Wildlife
Service. In 1974 a new Act was introduced which tidied up existing legislation.
The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 still governs the operations of
the National Parks and Wildlife Service to this day (page 5).
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has eight different categories
of protected areas, each of which have a different purpose' or design. National
parks are defined as: relatively large areas set aside for their predominantly
unspoiled natural landscape, and flora and fauna. As at 30 May 1998, there were
103 national parks with a total area of 3 764 654 hectares (page 7).
In 1995 the NSW Government signed the National Strategy for the Conservation
of Australia's Biological Diversity, which committed the Government to the
establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative network of
terrestrial and marine protected areas. The NSW Draft Biodiversity Strategy
identifies performance targets for establishing a comprehensive, adequate and
representative (CAR) reserve system, based on comprehensive regional
assessments, for forests by the year 2000 and for all other terrestrial and
marine ecosystems by the year 2010 (pages 8-9).
The current conservation reserve system in NSW does not include all
ecosystems. There is a geographic bias towards more protected areas on parts of
the coast, the ranges and the north-west desert. Fertile coastal plains,
commercial forest ecosystems, the tablelands and the western slopes and plains
remain poorly represented in the reserve system. As at the 30 May 1998, 4 551
372 hectares were reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act,
which was approximately 5.67% of the total land area of NSW (pages 10-13).
Over the last few years there has been several significant amendments to the
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. These include: the National
Parks and Wildlife Amendment Act (Aboriginal Ownership) Act 1996; the
National Parks and Wildlife Amendment Act (Regional Parks) Act 1996
which created a new category of protected areas called regional parks, and the
Marine Parks Act 1997. The passing of the Forestry and National Park
Estate Act 1998 created a large number of new national parks (pages 13-15).