Regional State of the Environment 2012

Northern Rivers Catchment Management (on behalf of the 15 participating councils)
November 2012

Cover of Regional State of the Environment 2012

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About the report

Kempsey Shire Council and the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (NRCMA) have prepared a Regional State of Environment (SOE) Report for 2012. ¬†Involving 12 councils and three county councils from Port Macquarie–Hastings in the south to Tweed in the north, this collaborative report will assess both local and regional environmental state using a set of indicators and measures specifically designed for the region.

Released in November 2012, the Regional SOE Report has 3 main goals:

  1. to meet the reporting requirements of the Local Government Act 1993;
  2. to provide information to the community and decision-makers on the condition of the local environment and where resources are best placed to respond to community expectations; and
  3. to better align with state Natural Resource Management (NRM) reporting.
Map of the Northern Rivers Catchment Management and councils involved in the Regional Stae of Environment Report 2012

Partnership

The Regional SOE Report partnership is between NRCMA, councils and county councils from the Northern Rivers region.  

Government agencies are also involved in the project providing expertise and data. Involved agencies include Department of Premier and Cabinet, Division of Local Government, Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Primary Industries, Department of Lands, Office of Water, Ministry of Health, and the Food Authority.

Partnership role

Councils have each signed an agreement which details their role in the project, and committed $5,000 to fund a Project Officer to produce the report.

Key council roles include:

  • Combining local government reporting with the Regional SOE report framework
  • Providing data and commenting on its quality and suitability
  • Developing a report structure and reviewing the report text
  • Promoting and distributing the final report
  • Evaluating the project’s effectiveness

Government agencies are involved in the project working group and are providing data, assisting with data analysis and development of the report framework, and providing a dedicated contact officer for the project.

The NRCMA negotiated the development of the project with councils, is hosting the project officer, and is ensuring that the project integrates with the CMA Catchment Action Plan (CAP) and State of Catchment reporting.

Reporting themes

The indicators developed for the report cover four key themes and 18 resource categories which support the State natural resource management targets.

Table showing themes and resource categories

Biodiversity/Vegetation

  • Resilient landscapes
  • Native vegetation restoration
  • Conservation: Reserves and agreements
  • Native flora and fauna
  • Invasive species

Soils/Landuse

  • Soils
  • Land use
  • Acid sulphate soils

Water

  • Freshwater and estuarine rivers
  • Wetlands
  • Groundwater
  • Near-shore marine

People & the Environment

  • Regional characteristics
  • Population characteristics & change
  • Population pressures on catchments
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Surface water
  • Waste

The indicators focus on the condition of the environment to inform both the community and decision-makers on how to best allocate resources, and to provide a baseline of environmental condition for the next SOE report in 2016.

Project objective

This project aims to produce a useful, informative and streamlined report that informs both local councils and state government agencies about the current condition of the environment at a regional and local level.

All councils must prepare an SOE report for their area in the year of the ordinary election (2012). Currently, there are multiple state and regional environmental reporting frameworks across the NSW north coast region that report independently of each other, and are not delivered in an integrated or strategic manner. As such they do little to inform state SOE reporting, the state Plan, or regional natural resource management (NRM) prioritisation and investment processes.  

Councils, agencies, Northern Rivers CMA, and the Local Government and Shires Association agreed in November 2009 to review the current SOE reporting process across the Northern Rivers CMA region. Taking advantage of a change in local government reporting, the collaborative partnership between local councils and government agencies was formed and a set of environmental indicators and measures for the region was developed.

The Project Officer commenced in February 2012, with report finalised in late November. The report will allow the involved councils to make informed decisions on the environmental objectives in their community strategic plans, while also placing them in a regional context. The report will guide both local and regional environmental planning and resourcing, and inform the State on regional environmental condition.