Monday, June 24, 2024

Mammoth monitoring program to track health of NSW national parks

NSW

A world-leading program to report on the health of NSW national parks is underway, with more than 600 surveillance sites across eight national parks areas to track long-term trends in biodiversity.

Minister for Environment, James Griffin said the program is the largest ever systematic survey for the NSW national park estate, and one of the biggest in the world.

“What we don’t know, we can’t protect, and by monitoring the health of our national parks through new animal camera traps, acoustic monitoring and vegetation surveys, we’ll be able to paint an even clearer picture to better protect these critical habitats,” Mr Griffin said. 

“Targeted surveys will be carried out at each of the national park areas to monitor threatened species, such as koalas, powerful owls and Wollemi pines.  A different set of surveys will track populations of feral animals and weeds and generate fire management metrics.

“The NSW Government is delivering the largest investment in our park estate – more than doubling feral animal control, increasing the number of firefighters and committed to zero extinctions on park.”

Surveys are underway in Kosciuszko and Royal National Parks, with camera traps already generating a wealth of data and showcasing the diversity of wildlife.

Initially, 30% of the national park estate will be monitored, including the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Macquarie Marshes, Myall Lakes, the Pilliga, part of the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area, Kosciuszko and Royal National Park.  

The surveillance network alone will involve more than 2,400 camera traps, 1,200 acoustic devices and 1,200 bird surveys; while vegetation surveys and soil samples will provide additional data on the health of park habitats.

The monitoring has four components, including:

  • park-wide surveillance monitoring for trends in mammal, bird, frog and reptile populations, and vegetation surveys and soil samples to provide additional data on the health of park habitats;
  • regular, targeted surveys to monitor threatened species such as koalas, powerful owls and Wollemi pines;
  • measurement and reporting of fire metrics;
  • monitoring of threats, including feral animals and weeds.

The results will be published in publicly available National Park Scorecards, providing a rich, data-based picture of the health of our national parks. 

Over time, the Scorecards will mean everyone can track the health of their favourite national park, with annual updates on whether biodiversity is improving and whether feral animals and weeds are decreasing.   

The initiative is supported by a $7 million grant from the NSW Environmental Trust and philanthropic investment of $1 million. 

For more information on the programs, visit National Park Performance Scorecards.

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