Management for Nature Conservation

Status of threats and condition

  • The most commonly reported threats were weeds (85% of parks) and pest animals (79% of parks).
  • The impact of most key threats has remained stable since 2013.
  • The condition of natural values was good or very good in 54% of relevant terrestrial parks (52% of park area). This percentage has remained stable since 2013.
  • The condition of natural values was good or very good in 93% of marine parks (75% by marine park area). This percentage has remained stable since 2013.

 

Extent management objectives met

  • Management objectives for marine pests, fire and inappropriate water regimes were fully or substantially met in 38%, 58% and 37% of relevant parks, respectively. The extent to which management objectives for these threats were met has remained stable since 2013.
  • Management objectives for weeds, pest animals, non-compliance and visitor impacts were fully or substantially met in 41%, 25%, 13% and 20% of relevant parks, respectively.
  • Although the extent to which management objectives were met was stable for most relevant parks across these threats, significantly more parks reported that it had declined (between 21% and 33% of relevant parks across the four threats) than improved (between 8% and 11% of relevant parks across the four threats) since 2013.
  • Management objectives for nature conservation in terrestrial parks were fully or substantially met in almost 40% of relevant parks (over 60% by park area). Although the extent to which management objectives were met remained stable for most relevant parks (67%), significantly more parks reported that it declined (24%) than improved (9%) since 2013. This may, in part, be due to more parks now having more comprehensive objectives detailed in conservation action plans.
  • Management objectives for nature conservation in marine parks were fully or substantially met in over 30% of relevant parks (over 60% by park area). The extent to which objectives were met has remained stable

 

Key factors influencing management effectiveness (over assessment period, 2013-18)

Improved management actions 

  • Implementation of well-planned, resourced and monitored weed, pest animal and habitat restoration initiatives at priority parks (e.g. Mallee, Grampians, Alps).
  • Excellent delivery partnerships (CMAs, volunteers, other government agencies) enabled larger-scale delivery of environmental programs (e.g. large-scale Mallee revegetation).
  • Improved clarity of management objectives for parks through conservation action planning.
  • Improved environmental conditions including mild bushfire seasons, natural flood events and increased environmental water allocations.
  • Targeted compliance programs (e.g. illegal firewood removal).
  • Targeted marine and terrestrial monitoring programs and partnerships providing valuable knowledge (e.g. Great Otway, Yarra Ranges, Alpine National Parks).

Challenges 

  • Some priority parks were still in recovery phase from recent large-scale bushfires (e.g. Grampians, Yarra Ranges).
  • Improved environmental conditions resulted in favourable conditions for spread of weeds.
  • Lack of effective management strategies for key pest animals (e.g. feral cats, deer).
  • Complex and diverse stakeholder views on proposed threat management, e.g. feral horses.
  • Challenges in reconciling planned burns for community safety and conservation objectives.

 

 

Management of Traditional Owner cultural values

Status of threats and condition

  • The threatening processes with the highest percentage of parks having an extreme or major impact on Traditional Owner cultural values were: wildfire, illegal activities, damage to cultural values by visitors, and lack of knowledge/expertise.
  • Traditional Owner places and objects were in very good or good condition in 36% of relevant parks. Condition was unknown in just over a third of relevant parks.
  • The condition of Traditional Owner places and objects has remained stable since 2013. 

 

Extent management objectives met

  • Objectives for management of fire with respect to Traditional Owner cultural values conservation were fully or substantially met in 60% of relevant parks. 
  • Less than 30% of parks fully or substantially met objectives for non-compliance and visitor impacts on Traditional Owner cultural values. 
  • The extent to which parks are meeting objectives for managing visitor impacts, non-compliance and inappropriate fire regimes on Traditional Owner cultural values has remained stable since 2013.
  • Around 40% of parks that identified Aboriginal places and sites fully or substantially met objectives for management of those values, while almost 20% did not meet management objectives. This has remained stable since 2013.

 

Key factors influencing management effectiveness (over assessment period, 2013-18)

Improved management actions 

  • Improved understanding of cultural heritage management plans, permits and other tools.
  • Organisational commitment to stronger partnerships with Traditional Owners.
  • Appointment of cultural heritage officers.
  • Development of the Managing Country Together Framework.

 

Challenges 

  • Limited knowledge or monitoring of significant sites.
  • Limited awareness and understanding of intangible Aboriginal cultural values and how best to protect them.
  • Lack of proactive management and Traditional Owner engagement.

 


Management of Historic Heritage

Status of threats and condition

  • Park managers identified threatening processes impacting on historic heritage values in 128 parks (43% of the 300 assessed parks).
  • The threatening processes with the highest percentage of parks having an extreme or major impact on historic heritage values were: wildfire (30%), inadequate maintenance (23%), weathering/age-related dilapidation (19%) and extreme weather events (15%). 
  • Park managers reported that the condition of historic heritage places and objects was very good or good in one-third of relevant parks. Although condition was stable in 71% of these parks, significantly more parks reported that it declined (19%) than improved (9%) since 2013.
  • For the 55 assessed parks that include places on the Victorian Heritage Register, park managers reported that heritage places and objects were in very good or good condition in 45% of parks. These parks showed a similar trend; condition remained stable in 65% but declined in significantly more parks (29%) than improved (6%). 

 

Extent management objectives met

  • Almost 30% of relevant parks indicated that they were fully or substantially meeting objectives for management of historic heritage places and objects. This has remained stable since 2013.
  • Of the 55 assessed parks with sites on the Victorian Heritage Register, 32% fully or substantially met objectives. Although the extent to which objectives were met remained stable for most of these parks (64%), significantly more parks reported that it decreased than increased (29% compared to 8%, respectively).


Key factors influencing management effectiveness (over assessment period, 2013-18)

Improved management actions 

  • Introduction of funding through the Victorian Government’s Living Heritage Grants program has seen a significant investment in conservation works to priority places.
  • Launch of the Heritage Asset Management App (HAMA), which provides a tool for capturing the condition of the heritage buildings and structures managed by Parks Victoria.
  • Well-managed lease arrangements assisted with the maintenance of places and objects with historic heritage value.

Challenges 

  • Declining maintenance of heritage places resulting in declining condition.
  • Gaps in specialist heritage management skills and knowledge in regions.
  • Some heritage assets present unique conservation challenges.

 


Management for Visitors and Community

Park visits and visitor services

  • The total number of visits to parks and piers in 2018-19 was 130.8 million. This has steadily increased over the reporting period.
  • 75% of the Victorian population visited a park in 2018. This figure has remained relatively stable since 2002.
  • Over 114,000 participants were involved in interpretation and education programs in 2017-18, including 70,000 participants to general interpretation activities, more than 30,000 participants in education programs, and over 12,500 Junior Ranger participants.
  • Between 2014-2015 and 2017-18 there has been an increase in the number of school/education activities and Junior Ranger programs available in Victorian Parks.
  • In 2017-18 there were 496 licensed tour operators, who generated over 472,000 visits. This is a 33% increase in licensed tour operators and a 109% increase in generated visits compared to 2013 data. 

 

Park assets and their condition

  • There are over 38,600 assets managed across the Victorian parks network, up from 28,000 assets in 2013. 
  • Asset condition (considering all assets within a park) was excellent or good in 27% of relevant parks and fair (serviceable) in 50% of relevant parks. Although 60% of relevant parks reported that the condition of assets was unchanged since 2013, significantly more parks reported that it declined (28% of relevant parks) than improved (12% of relevant parks).
  • When park asset classes are considered separately, at least 80% of visitor assets (e.g. shelters, barbeques and toilets), 84% of access assets (e.g. roads, tracks, signage), 76% of buildings and accommodation and 70% of maritime and waterway assets were in average or better condition. 


Outcomes and benefits for visitors and communities

  • Based on community surveys, 86% of the community rated the adequacy of visitor recreation opportunities as very good or good. this has remained relatively constant in the past two decades, with approval ratings consistently above 80%.
  • Based on park manager assessments, more than 60% of relevant parks provided adequate visitor opportunities across the variety of recreation experiences except for learning about nature or heritage, where 44% of parks fully or substantially provided these visitor needs.
  • Park managers reported that inadequate maintenance of assets or facilities as being of extreme or major consequence to visitor experience values in 16% of relevant parks while changes to access, inadequate assets or facilities and wildfire were reported as being of extreme or major consequence in approximately 10% of parks.
  • The majority (>80%) of park visitors indicated they were fully or very satisfied with their park visit. Overall, their experience and satisfaction has improved since 2013. 
  • Between 2014 and 2018, community satisfaction with management of national, state, regional parks and conservation reserves, and management of bays, waterways and piers increased to 90% and 80%, respectively. Satisfaction with management of metropolitan parks remained stable at more than 80%.
  • Around one third of visitors rated preservation of the natural environment as the foremost benefit of Victoria’s parks to the community. 

 

 

Extent management objectives met

  • Management objectives were fully or substantially met in 55%, 57%, 57% and 73% of relevant parks for provision of visitor opportunities, parks servicing, visitor facilities and visitor safety respectively, while less than 45% of parks fully or substantially met objectives for asset management, interpretation and education and the promotion of heath programs. 
  • The extent to which relevant parks met objectives for visitor opportunities, asset management, park servicing, visitor facilities and visitor safety has declined since 2013. Although the trend was stable for most relevant parks (between 65% and 74% across these five programs), significantly more parks reported that it had declined (between 20% and 27% of relevant parks across the five program areas) than improved (between 6% and 10% of relevant parks across the five program areas). 
  • The extent to which relevant parks met objectives for interpretation and education has remained stable since 2013

 

Community engagement and volunteerism

  • During the reporting period the number of hours volunteers contributed to parks per year increased from 219,000 to 281,776 hours in 2017-18.
  • Park managers reported that partnership activities were essential for achieving management objectives in over one third of relevant parks. This has remained stable since 2013.
  • Over 80 per cent of parks reported that volunteer activities were essential or often contributed to achieving objectives. This has remained stable since 2013.

 

Key factors influencing management effectiveness (over assessment period, 2013-18)

Improved management actions 

  • Roll out of the Visitor Experience Framework (VEF) to assist prioritisation.
  • Infrastructure improvements at a range of priority parks and sites.
  • Completion of strategic plans to reinvigorate and improve education and interpretation (Learning in Nature) as well as a disability action plan, cultural diversity action plan and a volunteering plan).
  • Improved information, accessibility and services for people with a disability.
  • New community engagement rangers.
  • Growth of programs to connect younger visitors and PV-led volunteer programs 
  • A variety of partnerships for nature-based health and wellbeing including integration of migrant communities and programs for people with a disability.
  • Development of citizen science initiatives to connect people with nature.
  • Introduction of ParkConnect system.

Challenges

  • Provision of contemporary services at high-growth priority locations (e.g. Shipwreck Coast).
  • Implementing maintenance regimes for visitor assets/facilities.
  • Provision of ranger services at peak times (including competition with fire season demands).
  • Keeping up with rapid growth of emerging visitor experiences (e.g. mountain bike riding).

 

 

Fire and Emergency Management

Fire and emergency planning, prevention, response and recovery

  • 96% of assessed parks had a planned approach to emergency management, while 94% of parks where fire management was an issue had a planned fire management approach.
  • The impact of fire on park values was minor or moderate in most of the parks where it was identified as an issue: fire had a major or extreme impact on natural values conservation in 24% of relevant parks, on asset protection in 17% of relevant parks, on Traditional Owner cultural values in 16% of parks, and on historic heritage values conservation in 18% of parks. (Response to this assessment was optional.)

 

Extent management objectives met

  • Of the 67 parks that identified asset protection as an objective of fire management, 68% were fully or substantially meeting fire management objectives.
  • Of the parks that identified fire management objectives for historic heritage, Traditional Owner and natural values objectives, around 60% were fully or substantially met. 
  • The extent to which fire management objectives were met has remained stable since 2013.

 

Key factors influencing management effectiveness (over assessment period, 2013-18)

Improved management actions 

  • Proactive fire and emergency partnership with DELWP and other agencies.
  • Comprehensive fire and emergency planning including emergency management plans and mock exercises.

Challenges

  • Limited resources to contribute effectively to Fire Operations Planning in some instances.
  • Natural values often have low priority in fire recovery. 

 

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