Learn about the ecosystems and cultural heritage that parks help protect, current issues and management strategies and the range of people and organisations involved in park management.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Parks Victoria and what do we manage?
Parks Victoria is a statutory authority which is a government agency created by an act of parliament, the Parks Victoria Act 1998, and reports to the Minister.
Parks Victoria manages four million hectares of parks both on land and in the sea. It is the Local Port Manager for Port Phillip Bay, Westernport and Port Campbell. It is the Waterway Manager for the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers.
What types of parks does Parks Victoria manage?
Parks Victoria looks after over 4 million hectares of public land. Some of these areas are reserved to protect plants and animals whereas others are reserved more for recreation and public enjoyment.
It’s important to recognise the different purpose and management objectives of the different types of parks in Victoria.
Parks Victoria manages:
Areas of nationwide significance because of their outstanding natural environments, features, scenic landscapes, and diverse land types. They protect natural and cultural features and usually offer visitor facilities. They have limited areas for intensive recreation or development. In Victoria national parks are managed under the National Parks Act 1975. The oldest national parks in Victoria are Wilsons Promontory and Mount Buffalo. Both were reserved in 1898.
These are managed for the same purposes and under the same act as national parks. They are generally smaller than national parks and make up an area of land containing natural environments and features, scenic landscapes and one or more land types that represent the major land types of the State.
Managed for conservation and self reliant recreation. Wilderness parks are generally large areas with landforms and native plant and animal communities relatively unaltered or unaffected by the influence of the European settlement of Australia.
Areas of land containing indigenous or non- indigenous vegetation readily accessible from urban centres or major tourist routes. They offer diverse recreational opportunities for large numbers of people.
Marine national parks, marine sanctuaries and coastal parks
Protect marine and coastal environments, safeguarding marine habitats for important plants and animals and conserving natural, cultural and aesthetic values.
Managed for intensive recreation and conservation where appropriate.
What role does Parks Victoria play in managing national parks?
Discover how Parks Victoria works alongside government departments, businesses, community groups and Traditional Owners to preserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of our parks, bays and waterways.
What role does Parks Victoria play in managing marine protected areas?
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Victoria were declared for protection in 2002, covering 5.3% of the Victorian coastline. Each of the locations were chosen due to their ecological importance. With the help of researchers and volunteers, Parks Victoria’s role is to conserve the marine communities represented by the MPA network. There are 13 marine national parks and 11 smaller marine sanctuaries.
What is the role of a ranger?
Working as a ranger is as varied as the environments we manage. Many responsibilities and tasks fall into two categories: managing natural values (making sure that the environment and cultural sites are protected) and visitor services (helping visitors to understand and enjoy parks).
Rangers have a very diverse role, which includes protecting and enhancing natural and cultural assets, responding to emergencies, working with volunteers, Traditional Owners and other partners, patrolling and issuing permits, maintaining visitor facilities and managing projects, teams and contractors.
What is the purpose and application of a park management plan?
Management plans outline the vision, goals, measures and long-term strategies used in managing national and state parks. These are written every 15 years and are required as part of the National Parks Act 1975.
Management plans set out the how a park can be used and maintained depending on its area, number of visitors, features and type. Management plans can be found on park pages.
Parks Victoria is also now adopting a best-practice approach to conservation planning for managing the extensive parks estate across Victoria.
Are there different types of management zones within parks?
Each park is made up of multiple management zones which provide a framework for managing, developing or conserving areas within that park. Refer to the management plan for each park for more information about zoning within a park. The types of zones include:
- Reference Area
- Conservation and Recreation
- Recreation Development
How many people visit parks?
Victoria’s parks and waterways received more than 130.7 million visits in 2018–19. The visits were across the entire Parks Victoria estate and included:
- 49.6 million visits to national and state parks
- 29.5 million visits to major metropolitan parks
- 51.6 million visits to piers, bays and waterways.
There is a long-term trend in increasing parks visitation, with a 17% increase in national park visitation and 19% increase in metropolitan park visitation since 2016/17.
What ecosystems are found in Victoria?
Victoria’s land area supports a wider range of ecosystems than any area of a similar size in Australia: alpine, mallee, grasslands and grassy woodlands, forests, heathlands and heathy woodlands, inland waters and estuaries, and coasts.
For a list of plants and animals in a park, refer to the park management plan available from each park’s individual page.
What threats do native species currently face?
Native species currently face a variety of threats, both human and environmentally induced. These include habitat decline, natural disaster, predation, disease, competition and the effects of climate change.
Some species might cope better with these new conditions while others may find it harder to find food and to stay safe. If these changes occur over a large area, populations of different species may decline or become extinct.
What impact do introduced species have on park wildlife?
A pest is any unwanted organism that has moved into an area that it previously wasn't found in. They can be introduced to a new area in natural ways such as an insect hitching a ride on a migratory bird. More commonly, pests have been introduced by humans, either accidentally or deliberately.
Weeds compete with native plants for space, habitat, food and shelter. They can change the natural diversity and balance of ecological communities.
What impacts do natural disasters have on park wildlife?
Natural disasters, such as floods and fires, can have a major impact on a park’s wildlife. While the immediate impact can be devastating, they can have a longer-term benefit by creating new habitats and encouraging new growth.
What techniques does Parks Victoria use to monitor changes in the landscape?
Parks Victoria employees, along with university and other research partners conduct various projects to monitor change, improve park management and develop greater ecological understanding of our parks. Parks Victoria employs an ‘adaptive management’ approach, meaning decisions are constantly evolving as new information arises.
What type of impacts can humans have on parks and wildlife? How can we manage these?
Parks and green spaces are essential to human health and wellbeing. With use, however, comes the need to manage visitor impacts to ensure healthy parks can persist into the future.
When visiting parks, keep in mind the below impacts that human activity can have on the natural environment:
- Walking or driving off track can cause vegetation trampling, and weeds and pathogens to spread. Repeated passages and shortcuts can form new tracks in previously untouched areas.
- Camping outside of designated campsites can cause scars from campfires and prolonged cover over the vegetation.
- In unstable areas, mountain bike, motorbike and four-wheel drive tyres can cause damage to tracks creating ruts susceptible to pooling and erosion.
- Litter (including toilet waste, toilet paper, tissues, cigarette butts and food wrappers) and dumping of larger hard rubbish cause damage to natural areas as many items don’t degrade, can be swept into waterways, be mistaken for food by wildlife, or may contain hazardous materials (e.g. asbestos).