Management of places of high conservation and landscape value
Protected area: 'an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associate cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means.'
Protected areas on land
This chapter is focused on those particular parts of the coast that have been acknowledged as significant in one way or another and hence have been accorded greater or lesser forms of legislative protection or recognition. Dedication to reserve status at the coast in Australia is driven by three themes: biodiversity, heritage, and aesthetics. For the terrestrial coast these three often overlap. Many areas retaining elements of biodiversity significance are often seen as attractive landscapes; sometimes these same areas contain sites of heritage significance, or landscapes that have been identified in these terms. Both terrestrial and marine coastal reserves are designated mainly for biodiversity reasons, including the protection of specific species, but all jurisdictions include reserves conserving all three themes. Some reserves, such as the Ningaloo Reserves of Western Australia, cross the shoreline, but most land-based parks extend to low water.
Recently the Commonwealth has reinforced its management powers over World Heritage Areas, Ramsar wetlands, threatened or endangered species, migratory species, and Commonwealth land and marine areas, through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (see page 203). This replaces, among others, the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975, which had been a key instrument in the Commonwealth's management of its protected areas.
On land and within territorial waters, reserves have been dedicated and defined under the separate legislation of the Commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory. As a result, Australia has several different systems of reserves, and the varying management regimes differ between jurisdictions and run across the full range outlined within the 1UCN guidelines listed in table 4.9.