Strategic Objectives and Indicators

This section discusses the Directorate's performance against the strategic objectives and indicators specified in the ACT Budget Papers.

Strategic Objective 1: Deliver a planning and leasehold system that delivers quality spatial outcomes and urban design, integrated transport and development outcomes that contribute to economic prosperity and a sustainable Canberra.

Strategic Planning

The Directorate undertook numerous planning and strategic land use management studies and initiatives in support of creating "sustainable, compact and liveable neighbourhoods".1 The City and Gateway Urban Renewal Strategy, the ACT Planning Strategy Refresh and an integrated approach to planning Section 72, Dickson were this year's flagship projects. Further, the Directorate's commitment to improving design quality in the ACT was strengthened with the establishment of the National Capital City Design Review Panel. Co-chaired by the government Architect and the Chief Planner from the National Capital Authority, the panel is providing effective design advice to a range of proposals for development.

A compact neighbourhood represents a sustainable approach to land use and management; however, it will result in infill development and changing character in established areas. The Planning Policy Division has anticipated the flow-on effects of a compact neighbourhood for Canberra. With the aim of enabling infill development while protecting the amenity and character of established areas, the Directorate is undertaking strategic planning studies to prepare for this important transition. Further information on key outcomes can be found at Strategic Objective 3, page 26.

Announcement of an Interim Chief Engineer position on a part-time basis was made in June 2018. Among other duties, a major task of the interim Chief Engineer will be to scope the role of the ongoing Chief Engineer.

The interim Chief Engineer will undertake ongoing consultation with industry representatives and will add value to co-ordination of infrastructure investment and urban development within the Territory.

Infrastructure Planning

The Directorate was also involved in many key infrastructure-related projects that support our growing city. This year, the main infrastructure-related projects included:

Strategic Indicator 1: Develop, engage on and implement city-wide urban land and transport policies, strategies and plans that underpin planning for the future urban growth, land supply, and major infrastructure in a coordinated way across government.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

Strategic Objective 2: Protect and enhance our natural environment, water resources and heritage values.

In 2017–18 the Directorate delivered the following key outputs:

Strategic Indicator 2.1: Work with the community on implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

Under the Water Act 2007 (Cth), the ACT must prepare a ten-year water resource plan that demonstrates how surface water and groundwater is managed in the ACT consistent with the net Sustainable Diversion Limits set under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. The ACT Water Resources Act 2007 is the framework for the ACT Water Resource Plan.

The ACT Water Resource Plan will establish how the ACT will comply with its net Sustainable Diversion Limit of 54.70 gigalitres/year for surface water and 3.16 gigalitres for groundwater; that is, the maximum amount of water that can be taken annually from the environment for consumptive use.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

Strategic Indicator 2.2: Deliver the ACT Healthy Waterways project against timelines agreed with the Commonwealth.

A joint initiative of the Australian and ACT governments, the ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Priority) Project is investing $93.5 million in infrastructure, in-lake research, education, monitoring across the ACT region. This project aims to reduce nutrient and sediment loads and significantly improve water quality in the ACT's lakes, the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee rivers and, consequently, the Murray–Darling Basin.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

Strategic Indicator 2.3: Develop and implement ACT wide sustainability policies including biodiversity conservation.

In partnership with our community, the government has a key role in protecting biodiversity and improving the management of our national parks and reserves, rural lands and waterways.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

Strategic Objective 3: Deliver balanced and effective policies for safe buildings, effective environmental controls and optimal land use outcomes.

In 2017–18 the Directorate delivered the following key outputs:

Strategic Indicator 3.1: Continuous review of regulatory policies, systems and ensuring that environment protection, heritage, nature conservation and construction activities are properly coordinated and effective in application.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

  1. Precinct Codes, including a new Northbourne Avenue Corridor Precinct Code and amendments to nine existing codes
  2. Design guide for apartments and attached housing
  3. A technical report to support the changes to the Territory Plan, which will enable the implementation of the framework.

New outcome driven, performance based planning controls, accompanied by a design guide, have been drafted to support design excellence and innovation, and will improve the design qualities of development in the ACT. Initially, the new controls will be piloted in the city centre and gateway corridor.

When completed and adopted, the Territory Plan variations will enable more people to live and work in the city. They aim to deliver a "Liveable and competitive Canberra attracting investment and talent within an outcome-focussed planning system".3b

Highlights:

3D Canberra

The 3D Canberra planning tool enables planners and designers to perform interactive, live, human-scale experimental analysis in an accurate 3D Canberra city context. 3D Canberra is improving the way we understand and review complex planning and development scenarios across the city, especially in areas that are experiencing urban renewal, such as existing town centres and along major public transport routes. The development of 3D Canberra is ongoing.

Highlights:

Master Plan Program

The Master Plan program responds to the government's strategy to create a more compact, efficient city by focusing urban intensification in town centres, group centres and along the major public transport routes. Through place-specific investigation, the program undertakes strategic planning for areas undergoing change by responding to the changing needs and priorities of the community.

The master plans identify outcomes, principles and opportunities to manage urban change, consistent with the government's strategic priorities while retaining the key values of each specific area. The program consists of 15 master plans over five years to guide growth and investment in our centres as a key action of the 2012 ACT Planning Strategy.

Twelve master plans have been completed, with Territory Plan variations being prepared to translate each master plan into the regulatory framework of the Territory Plan. The Kippax Group Centre Master Plan, Curtin Group Centre Master Plan and Tharwa Village Plan are to be presented to government early in the next financial year.

Highlights:

ACT Planning Strategy Refresh 2018

The 2012 Planning Strategy sets out the long-term policy and goals to provide for the orderly and sustainable development of the ACT. Every five years the ACT Government is required to consider whether the strategy should be reviewed. The decision to review, made in October 2017, acknowledged that much of the 2012 strategy remains relevant but that changes Canberra is experiencing need to be integrated into the strategy, notably light rail, ongoing urban renewal and a growing population.

The ACT Planning Strategy Refresh 2018 takes into account key government priorities such as:

The Refresh is building on the direction set in the 2012 Strategy to better integrate with the key areas of climate change, transport and housing policy, all of which have strategies concurrently in development.

Engagement with the Canberra community began in June 2018 through a series of 'speaker sessions'. Leading speakers were invited to stimulate conversations about the challenges facing Canberra's compact city future, contemporary urban design, supporting infrastructure, the bush capital image, and other planning and urban design topics.

Highlights:

Territory Plan variations

The Territory Plan section consults on, and recommends changes to, the Territory Plan to implement key policy decisions of the ACT Government. Variations to the Territory Plan are made in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2007 (P&D Act), which requires ministerial approval for major policy changes. The planning and land authority may approve technical amendments.

The National Capital Authority is consulted on Territory Plan variations with a view to confirming that proposed changes are not inconsistent with the National Capital Plan.

Five Territory Plan draft variations (DVs) are incorporating the recommendations of master plans into the Territory Plan:

Another four DVs are underway:

DV352 commenced in May 2018, making changes to various development tables, codes and definitions.

Highlights:

Technical Amendments to the Territory Plan

Technical amendments (TAs) allow the Directorate to make minor changes to the Territory Plan, including clerical, routine, language, technical, operational and minor policy updates. TAs are broadly grouped into two categories: administrative TAs that do not require public consultation; and substantive TAs that are required to be publicly notified for a minimum of 20 working days under the P&D Act.

Thirteen administrative TAs commenced, including miscellaneous, boundary or overlay changes and future urban area uplift (where land ceases to be in a future urban area). Six substantive TAs commenced, including for code and clarification amendments to the Territory Plan.

National Airports Safeguarding Framework

The Directorate continues to represent the ACT Government on the interjurisdictional National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group, chaired by the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

Highlights:

National Capital Design Review Panel

The Directorate established the interim National Capital Design Review Panel (NCDRP) in 2017 to independently review and provide professional urban design advice to improve the quality of buildings, estate developments, landscapes and public spaces. The interim NCDRP includes a panel of experienced, multi-disciplinary members who provide expert urban design advice to decision makers, developers and their design teams.

Highlights:

Section 72 Dickson

The Section 72 Dickson urban renewal study area is located between Cowper Street, Antill Street, Hawdon Place and Sullivans Creek. It is 800 metres from major public transport services on Northbourne Avenue, adjacent to the Dickson group centre, with access to excellent recreation facilities including the Dickson playing fields, pool and tennis courts. These elements combine to make it an important precinct for reconsideration of how it can support a range of community uses.

Dickson Section 72 has been identified by the ACT Government and the community as a site with opportunities for broader community benefits especially in view of its location, site topography and mature landscape. The ACT Government committed to providing social housing and Common Ground 2 within Dickson Section 72 to support a diverse community.

The first stage of engagement with the community and key stakeholders (23 January to 16 March 2018) sought to understand their aspirations and concerns for the future of the precinct. Key activities included a community workshop, meet the planners and 'info kiosks' at Dickson shops, and 'walkshops' of the site with members of the community and local school groups.

The next stages of the project will be informed by stage 1 engagement and the agreed planning and design principles. The Directorate has chosen to streamline an integrated Section Plan for Dickson Section 72 that will set the policy context for future developments, including: land uses; possible building heights; active travel locations; traffic movement and public realm activation areas. This project demonstrates an innovative way of planning and designing a precinct through the implementation and delivery phases.

Highlights:

A 'walkshop', facilitated by the Heart Foundation (ACT), gave the community an opportunity to discuss and challenge proposed opportunities for the precinct, and kept the channels of conversation with the community open through the stages of the project.

Forward Priorities

In 2018–19, the Planning Policy Division will focus on:

For further information contact:

Kathy Cusack
Executive Director
02 6205 0204
Kathy.Cusack@act.gov.au

Heritage

Capital works

In 2017–18, $151,000 was allocated for heritage projects through the capital works program:

Canberra Tracks.

Canberra Tracks provides heritage interpretation at 174 sites in the ACT, including eight self-drive interpretive trails. Each heritage site on the trails has an interpretive sign telling the story of its past and its connection to the present. The Canberra Tracks program has increased private and community partnerships.

The network of signage was further consolidated with updated information. A new sign was installed at the site of Toll Dale.

New downloadable content was added to the free Augmented Reality app, which includes 48 two minute videos. People can now explore our heritage through 360° internal panoramas of places not usually open to the public. Brief audios bring life to six sites and geo-locator pips at Lake Burley Griffin negate the need for new signage. The sign at Regatta Point outside the Canberra Region Visitor Centre was updated explaining and promoting the app and its functions.

The Canberra Tracks brochure was reprinted and continues to be placed at 110 tourism outlets including hotels, visitor centres, attractions, and at Floriade.

Glenburn Homestead Pise Building Engineering Assessment.

In 2016–17, large cracks were recorded in the circa 1900 pise (rammed earth) building, and the lintel around the building's front door partially collapsed. An engineering assessment, completed in June 2018, identified a conservation strategy and a scope of works to guide the immediate and ongoing conservation and management of the place.

Relocation, conservation and interpretation of an Aboriginal cultural tree, Namadgi Visitors Centre.

In May 2018, an Aboriginal cultural tree was relocated from the Outward Bound property at Tharwa to Namadgi for conservation and interpretation. The tree was felled and cut into four pieces many decades ago, with one piece containing a large canoe scar in its entirety. At the request of Representative Aboriginal Organisations (RAO), the ACT Government funded this project to promote and celebrate the Aboriginal culture and history of the ACT. Following completion of conservation works, the cultural tree will be installed and interpreted at the Namadgi Visitor Centre.

ACT Parks and Conservation Service Cultural Heritage Management System

Thousands of Aboriginal places occur in lands managed by the ACT PCS, and a cultural heritage management system (CHMS) is currently being developed to manage these places in partnership with Traditional Custodians and in accordance with Heritage Act obligations. The project commenced with a review of the PCS management estate and current heritage management practices, which has informed a scoping of the CHMS and its governance. The initial stage of the CHMS also includes draft content on Standard Operational Procedures for Aboriginal cultural heritage management.

Ginninderra Blacksmith's Workshop Conservation Works.

Minor conservation works to the Ginninderra Blacksmith's Workshop including the repair of the corrugated iron roof.

ACT Heritage Grants Program

The 2017–18 ACT Heritage Grants Program funded 21 projects totalling approximately $352,000. The program is the primary source of funding for individuals and community organisations involved in heritage conservation in the ACT.

Summary of grant projects
Type of grant Grant value
Individual grant projects* $197,354
Community partnership projects
- Heritage Advisory Service ($25,000)
- Heritage Festival ($77,000)
$102,000
Heritage Emergency Fund $52,624
TOTAL $351,978
*For detailed information on community support initiatives (grants and sponsorship), see whole-of-government report prepared by Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.
Heritage Festival

The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival (14–29 April 2018) included 156 activities involving 60 event organisers from government, community and private sectors.

The theme 'My Culture, My Story' focused on how a place is strengthened through our many cultural identities. A more inclusive society is the result when we have a better sense of our own identity. Events closely aligning with this theme included many Aboriginal heritage activities and activities at the Embassy of Ireland and the German Harmonie Club. Activities included open days, talks, tours, exhibitions, dances, a re-enactment, demonstrations and workshops. Regional events attracted people to Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Yass, Braidwood, Goulburn and the Monaro. There were fewer flagship events (where more than 1,000 people attend), however people appreciated the intimate atmosphere of the smaller, well-run events.

More than 10,000 people attended a festival event. More than 97% of the 130 survey respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with the event they attended. The festival continues to reach new markets with 55% of survey participants stating they had not previously attended a Heritage Festival event.

Social media was boosted to 26 posts with a reach of 58,052 compared to seven posts last year and a 31,148 reach. The printed program remained a popular way to find information.

Heritage Advisory Service

The ACT Government's Heritage Advisory Service was used 60 times. The service provides one hour of free heritage and architectural advice to prospective heritage purchasers and/or owners of heritage places intending to renovate or restore their properties.

The service also provided advice to ACT Heritage and the ACT Heritage Council on the condition of, and conservation works needed at, four heritage places: Glenburn Homestead; Rock Valley Homestead; Gungaderra Homestead; and Demandering Hut.

The service has been managed by ACT Heritage under contractual arrangements since 2002. The current service provider is Philip Leeson Architects Pty Ltd.

Heritage Emergency Fund

In 2018, $17,155 was released from the Emergency Fund to undertake urgent repairs to St John's Schoolhouse Museum, which forms part of the
ACT Heritage Register entry for St John the Baptist Church and Churchyard.

Heritage Registration

ACT Heritage assisted the Heritage Council in making significant progress on the nominations list, which was reduced from 108 to 94. The Heritage Council accepted an additional five nominations. There has been notable improvement in thematic representation on the ACT Heritage Register, with an increase in cultural precincts, Aboriginal cultural sites, and places with links to the ACT's educational history and natural heritage.

Highlights include the site of a Corroboree at the junction of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers, and rows of red flowering native shrubs in the Red Hill Nature Reserve that were planted to make Canberra colourful.

The ACT's educational heritage is now better represented on the ACT Heritage Register after the provisional registration of Signadou and Blackfriars Precinct, and registration of Tharwa School. Tharwa School is an important part of the history of the Limestone Plains as it provided access to education for children in rural communities who would not otherwise be able to attend school in the more populated areas.

A geological site, the Barton Highway Road Cut, was registered. The place demonstrates an important part of the underlying geological formation of the Canberra region. This part of the region's geology was formed in a marine environment that was lowered by tectonic movement and then built up by material eroding from mountains.

During 2017–18:

Nominations accepted to the ACT Heritage Register:

  1. The 'Brick Banks' at Erindale Skatepark, Wanniassa
  2. Historical Railway Objects
  3. Narrabundah Duplexes, Narrabundah
  4. 40 Donaldson Street, Braddon
  5. Kingston Hotel, Griffith

Nominations dismissed by the Heritage Council:

  1. Red Hill School, Red Hill
  2. Trettes, Jervis Bay

Decisions to provisionally register:

  1. Barton Highway Road Cut, Nicholls
  2. Tharwa School, Tharwa
  3. 11 Northcote Crescent, Deakin
  4. Signadou and Blackfriars Precinct, Watson
  5. Red Hill Historic Plantings, Red Hill

Decisions not to provisionally register:

  1. Red Hill Rutidosis Site, Deakin
  2. Bull Oak Grove near Molonglo Gorge, Kowen
  3. Grassland Earless Dragon Habitat, Jerrabomberra and Majura
  4. Molonglo River to Barton Highway Woodland
  5. Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve, Gungahlin
  6. Pale Pomaderris Habitats across the ACT
  7. Austral Toadflax Site near Kambah Pool, Tuggeranong
  8. Tharwa Village Precinct
  9. Pine Island Agglomerate
  10. Canberra Nature Park
  11. Murrumbidgee River Corridor
  12. Narrabundah Duplexes, Narrabundah
  13. Open Systems House (formerly Churchill House), Braddon

Decisions to register:

  1. Barton Highway Road Cut, Nicholls
  2. Corroboree Ground and Aboriginal Cultural Area, Queanbeyan River, Majura and Jerrabomberra
  3. Glenburn Precinct, Kowen (further registration)
  4. Tharwa School, Tharwa

Advice

ACT Heritage provided a significant amount of formal advice, including:

ACT Heritage also continued its success in providing advice on formal DA referrals within statutory timeframes, with 88% of all advice on DAs provided within the 15 working day statutory response period.

Forward priorities

In 2018–19, focus will be on:

For further information contact:

Ian Walker
Executive Director, Environment
02 6205 9027
IanS.Walker@act.gov.au

Environment

The Environment Division helps protect the natural environment—air, land, water and biodiversity— through policy, programs, monitoring, research and on-ground projects. The Division works across land uses and in partnership with a range of stakeholders—environmental volunteers, rural landholders, community groups, non-government and government organisations. Our people acknowledge and learn from Aboriginal culture in managing the landscape.

Policy and program areas cover water policy and catchment management, environment protection, nature conservation, natural resource management, forestry, fire and agriculture.

The Division receives funding from the Australian Government, including through the National Landcare Program and Murray–Darling Basin reforms, including the ACT Healthy Waterways Project.

Monitoring and scientific research aims to fill gaps in critical knowledge and provide the evidence
upon which policy is developed and management strategies devised.

This includes management and reintroduction of threatened species and mitigation of threats to people and ecosystem integrity, including fire, biosecurity issues, water quality and climate change.

The Division supports the role of Conservator of Flora and Fauna, whose main functions are to develop and oversee policies, programs and plans for nature conservation and monitoring of ecological condition.

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service (PCS) is a Branch within the Environment Division and reports on land management through Output 2.3 (page 78).

Regional Partnerships for Landcare

ACT NRM is the regional natural resource management (NRM) organisation that delivers services and projects for improving biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and Aboriginal outcomes. ACT NRM received funding from the Australian Government including $3.805 million (2015–18) under the National Landcare Program and $95,000 for pest animal and weeds (2015–19) under the Managing Established Pest Animals and Weeds under Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

ACT NRM also commenced negotiations with the Commonwealth for funding to deliver Core Services through Regional Land Partnerships (2018–23) and received $24,000 from Landcare Australia to deliver the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards. ACT NRM also manages funding received through government programs and administers the ACT Environment Grants.

Sustainable Agriculture
Supporting ACT and region farmers

The ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator (RLF) and NRM Facilitator support the development of a skilled and capable Landcare community in the ACT. Community engagement highlights included programs aimed at improving the efficiency and sustainability of pastures and grazing management on ACT rural land and projects which address pest animals and weeds. Work delivered included:

ACT Rural Grants

The $450,000 ACT Rural Grants program (2013–18) supports ACT rural landholders to implement innovative sustainable farming practices. The program involved three competitive grant rounds (2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17), with funding provided under the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme and managed by ACT NRM. Across the five years of the program, the ACT Rural Grants has achieved over 4000 hectares of improved land management across 31 ACT farms. The program supports rural landholders to undertake on-ground activities on their farms that:

Support for rural landholders in this final year of the program included individual landholder projects as well as collaborative, cross-property projects that could achieve landscape-scale improvements in land management. These projects were well-supported by landholders and delivered in partnership with the RLF.

ACT Landcare Awards

The biennial State and Territory Landcare Awards are sponsored by Landcare Australia with funding from the Australian Government and sponsors. These awards recognise and celebrate the enormous efforts and achievements of the Landcare community across Australia. ACT NRM organised the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards. Winners of national categories from the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards will progress to the 2018 National Awards to be held in Brisbane in October 2018.

Winners of the 2017 national categories in the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards were:

Winners of ACT Government sponsored ACT Landcare Awards were:

Partnerships and Community engagement
Rural Landcare

The ACT RLF and NRM Facilitator continued to build on existing partnerships and strengthen Landcare and NRM networks.

Highlights:

Community Landcare

In addition to programs targeting rural landholders and existing Landcare networks, ACT NRM has delivered initiatives aimed at broader community engagement and education including:

ACT Environment Grants*

The 2017–18 ACT Environment Grants received 20 applications, of which nine projects were funded to a total of $203,000. These projects included actions to protect threatened ecosystems, on-ground weed control, setting up a space for the treatment of wild animals, and citizen science projects to assist the monitoring for frogs in remote areas

*For detailed information on community support initiatives (grants and sponsorship), see whole-of-government report prepared by the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.

Investment Plan

The Regional NRM Investment Plan (finalised in June 2017) acted as an investment prospectus to design and seek funding for programs and projects, strengthen existing partnerships, attract new partners and investors and broker investments between partners. In December 2017, community consultation concluded with 15 expression of interests being received from prospective partners for future regional NRM investments across the ACT. This process, including advice from the NRM Council, informed ACT NRM's February 2018 tender submission for funding under the Regional Land Partnerships, National Landcare Program Phase II.

Aboriginal Engagement

ACT NRM engages the local Aboriginal community through the Aboriginal NRM Facilitator and Kickstart My Career Through Culture program. See section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Reporting for details on South-east Australia Aboriginal Fire Forum held in May 2018 and student participation on Kickstart program.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity projects funded through Australian Government NRM Programs have focussed on enhancing the resilience of grassland and woodland ecosystems across the ACT and region through targeted on-ground works to support the recovery of threatened flora and fauna.

Woodlands

White-Box–Yellow-Box–Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland is listed as a critically endangered ecological community under the EPBC Act. Nationally, less than 5% of the original extent of this ecological community remains. ACT NRM was successful in gaining a $2.155 million grant for a 5-year project, 2012–17 (ACT BioFund Project) to help consolidate and connect 60,000 hectares of the largest remaining box-gum grassy woodland landscape in Australia

A review of the project was finalised in August 2017. The review evaluated the ACT BioFund project, including how the project contributed to the delivery of the broader ongoing Woodlands Restoration Program in the ACT including two ACT Government-funded projects: the ACT Woodland Restoration Project (2011–15) and The Murrumbidgee River Corridor Million Trees project (2008–18), and other complementary initiatives.

Threatened species recovery

ACT NRM supported delivery of the Australian Threatened Species Strategy, including managing $600,000 from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program for a joint project between ACT NRM, Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and ACT PCS to expand Mulligan's Flat Sanctuary from 485 to 1555 hectares.

Natural temperate grasslands

The Canberra Nature Park grassland enhancement program trialled different methods of biomass management—ecological burns, grazing, slashing and invasive species control—to enhance the health of grasslands and threatened species' populations. ACT NRM provided $240,000 to PCS in 2015–18. The following targets were achieved:

The program adopted an adaptive management approach, and grazing and fire trials were underpinned by a robust experimental design and comprehensive monitoring effort. The program completed three years of monitoring across seven grassland reserves, including monitoring of vegetation community composition, vegetation structure, reptiles (including the threatened Striped Legless Lizard and Grassland Earless Dragon) and invertebrates (including the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth).

The Grassland Program's community engagement component included seven presentations to groups such as catchment groups, local and interstate community forums, the National Recovery Meeting for the Grassland Earless Dragon and various government events (e.g. Ecofocus).

Conservation Policy and Research

Legislation reviews and implementation
Fisheries Act 2000

Public consultation was held on a review of the Fisheries Act 2000 that will ensure the legislation appropriately addresses contemporary fisheries management issues.

Nature Conservation Act 2014

Work continued on the implementation of the Nature Conservation Act 2014 (NC Act), which commenced in June 2015, including through the development of legislative instruments relating to species, ecological communities and key threatening processes, including:

Conservation strategies and Action Plans
Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy

An updated Aquatic and Riparian Strategy, with accompanying threatened species action plans, has been drafted. The strategy's vision is 'Healthy waterways supporting diverse aquatic and riparian flora and fauna, and providing high quality ecosystem services'. Following approval from the ACT Scientific Committee, the strategy was put out for community consultation from 12 January to 11 March 2018 (NI2018-17). Comments received have been included in the document prior to going to the ACT Scientific Committee in June 2018. The approved revised strategy will be released by the end of 2018.

Native Grasslands Conservation Strategy

The Native Grassland Conservation Strategy, which includes eight action plans for threatened grassland plants and animals, was published in December 2017 (DI2017-288). The strategy and action plans provide guidance on the conservation of native grasslands and their component species in the ACT, regardless of tenure and land use.

Murray Cod Native Species Conservation Plan

This plan was finalised in November 2017 (NI2017-561) following consultation from 15 June–30 July 2017 (NI2017-292). The Murray Cod has special protection status because it is a listed threatened species under the EPBC Act. This plan provides for the protection and management of the species and the continuation of sustainable recreational fishing. The plan was developed with expert advice from the Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee and Scientific Committee.

Native Woodlands Conservation Strategy

Drafting of the revised ACT Native Woodland Conservation Strategy and associated action plans (and conservation advice) began. The strategy will build on the protection and management of woodlands achieved since the 2004 Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy. It will provide guidance on the management and conservation of grassy woodlands in the ACT for the next ten years. The scope of the revised strategy will be broadened to include all woodland formations in the ACT, including both lowland and montane woodland communities. A framework for the strategy and a literature review is complete. Workshops and information sessions have been facilitated to provide interested stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback and discuss priorities as the document is developed. A draft strategy will be made available for public comment by early 2019.

ACT Action Plan for Listed Migratory Species

The first ACT Migratory Species Action Plan was finalised on 23 February 2018 (DI2018-27). The plan provides actions to improve knowledge and management of migratory birds that regularly visit the ACT and are listed under the EPBC Act (s.209), including Latham's Snipe. Listed migratory species are a matter of national environmental significance and the plan identifies strategies and actions to improve their management and habitats while in the ACT; and inform environment impact assessment in areas where migratory species occur. Consultation on a
draft strategy occurred from 12 July–25 August 2017
( NI2017-357 ). A focus of implementation was monitoring of Latham's Snipe at Jerrabomberra Wetlands through a partnership with the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and PCS.

Representation and engagement
Natural Policy

The Directorate represented the ACT Government on inter-jurisdictional working groups including the Biodiversity Working Group, Threatened Species Working Group and Wetlands and Aquatic Ecosystems Working Group (all chaired by the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy), Feral Cat Taskforce (chaired by the Commissioner of Threatened Species) and Drought Task Group (chaired by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources).

In 2015, all Australian jurisdictions collaboratively developed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide greater consistency and reduced duplication in the assessment and listing of threatened species and ecological communities. Work undertaken through 2017–18 included development of conservation advice for some of the 34 ACT-listed species and a further 17 species listed under the Australian Government's EPBC Act that may occur in or visit the ACT.

Changes to the threatened species list will largely be finalised later in 2018 in continued consultation with the Scientific Committee.

The ACT has contributed to enhancing collaboration in efforts to reduce the threat of feral cats on native wildlife, and strengthening national approaches including through the National Biodiversity Strategy and Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform.

Scientific Committee

The Scientific Committee consulted on two nominations during the year: the Eastern Bettong as a Conservation Dependent Species (NI2017-548) and Unnatural Fragmentation of Habitats as a Key Threatening Process (NI2018-201).

The Scientific Committee assessed the Eastern Bettong against the Conservation Dependent criteria and the Loss of Hollow-bearing Trees (and more broadly mature trees) against the criteria for a Key Threatening Process (NI2017-198). Listing assessments and draft conservation advices have been prepared for these processes and recommendations will be forwarded to the Minister next year. The Minister is responsible for making a decision on listings.

The Scientific Committee will assess the nomination of Unnatural Fragmentation of Habitats as a Key Threatening Process in 2018–19 (NI2018-201).

The Minister made an instrument (DI2017-294) outlining criteria and processes for the nomination and assessment of Protected Native Species in December 2017 following consultation with the Scientific Committee at meetings in 2017–18.

The ACT Scientific Committee is a statutory expert body appointed by the Minister for the Environment under the NC Act. The Committee is appointed for a three-year term, which ended on 30 June 2018. Appointment processes were undertaken for the Scientific Committee to establish a new committee from 1 July 2018.

Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee

The Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee, a non-statutory expert advisory committee, provides independent strategic advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Directorate on the sustainable management of the Territory's natural resources. All appointees to the NRMAC have appropriate expertise and qualifications to advise government on a range of natural resource management issues in the ACT. An appointment process to fill a vacancy was undertaken in 2017–18.

Grassy Woodlands Stakeholder Group

The Directorate established a Grassy Woodlands Stakeholder Group, a consultative forum for the community and the ACT Government to exchange and discuss information, knowledge and views to help enhance management and protection of the ACT and region's lowland grassy woodlands. This was in response a recommendation in relation to a Feasibility Study for a New National Park, 'That the ACT Government considers an ongoing role for the National Park Feasibility Reference Group (or similar representative group) to support conservation outcomes for the ACT's lowland grassy woodlands'.

The consultative forum met twice and discussed the development of the ACT Woodlands Strategy, indicating that a forum to disseminate and celebrate outcomes from grassy woodlands research and projects would help in developing the new strategy. An ACT Woodlands Forum was held on 27 and 28 June, with over 100 people attending.

Threatened species
Plants – survey and monitoring
Terrestrial fauna and fish – survey and monitoring
Threats and threatening process
Land-based surveys and baseline information