SEQ NRM Plan Review
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Natural assets such as air and soil, waterways and wetlands, rainforests, woodlands, forests and grasslands, coastal environments, as well as culture and people strengthen South East Queensland’s (SEQ) identity, health and liveability.
Key challenges facing these assets and our ability to sustainably manage them include climate change, population growth, and changes in how land is used.
To conserve and effectively manage the natural and cultural assets of SEQ, we need to better understand what and where they are, their current conditions and trends over time, as well as the investments in place to protect them.
In this way, we can leverage on successes, identify gaps and contribute to a collective vision for the future state of our region supported by sustainable use of its natural assets.
Natural resource management (NRM) is the suite of plans and actions for the protection and improvement of these natural assets. An NRM plan puts together a coordinated set of actions that seek to conserve, manage, or enhance these natural assets through proactive (planning) actions. The SEQ NRM Plan documents this vision with agreed programs and actions for sustaining the health of the region.
The plan is a living document which has been around now for over a decade. The first plan was created in 2009. It is reviewed regularly to ensure currency to changing circumstances. The last major update to the plan was released in 2016, and a review is currently underway with a view to publishing an updated plan in 2021.
Healthy Land and Water is providing the leadership in the review of the SEQ NRM Plan on behalf of the Australian and Queensland Governments and our members, with input from the community. This includes evaluating performance against the set targets for each of the 10 stipulated targets, brokering collaboration and engagement with key stakeholders, promoting improved understanding and articulation of Traditional Owner aspirations, identifying gaps and collate bespoke implementation plans. Our goal is to make SEQ an icon for its natural wealth, its liveability, and its people.
Through the implementation of innovative and science-based projects and initiatives, training and workshops, collaboration and more, Healthy Land and Water and its members are working to improve and protect SEQ’s landscapes, farmland, waterways, coastal environments, and biodiversity.
“Having access to clean water and air, food and housing, protection from pollutants, and access to places that positively influence our state of mind and improve our connection to the environment improve our quality life and health.”
– Julie McLellan
CEO, Healthy Land and Water
Purpose of the NRM Plan
The current SEQ NRM Plan contains a set of targets designed to assist with application of a collaborative approach and articulate the needs of the community (i.e. cultural, recreation and health), and those of a sustainable environment.
Through funding support from the Australian Government, the SEQ NRM Plan is designed to guide existing planning efforts from all levels of government, community, and industry in relation to natural resource management.
The plan identifies priority programs and is a useful document to ensure appropriate monitoring, evaluation, and reporting takes place.
The four main purposes of the SEQ NRM Plan are:
- To complement and inform state of the environment reporting and the preparation and review of the SEQ Regional Plan.
- To inform the preparation of local government planning schemes and policies, state government policy, government and non-government corporate plans, property plans.
- To inform the preparation of planning and investment associated with yearly and long-term business cycles at regional, sub-regional and property levels to ensure funding and community actions contribute to the achievement of regional targets.
- To advise state agencies and local governments in the assessment of development applications and activities that may significantly constrain the achievement of regional natural resource targets.
The targets set out in the plan are designed to ensure we maintain our region’s natural assets and our quality of life. By valuing natural assets and coordinating action at the property, catchment, and local government scale, we can build and protect the overall prosperity and wellbeing of the region.
The SEQ NRM Plan is recognised through the South East Queensland Regional Plan, ShapingSEQ, and Healthy Land and Water provides plan implementation updates to the Queensland and Australian Governments on a regular basis.
Progress on the South East Queensland NRM Plan is measured against baselines created in 2009 when the first plan was released.
Healthy Land and Water reviews data sets, analysis methods, and progress against a set of targets every five years, with support from academic/research bodies, government, and community experts.
This process is currently underway, with Healthy Land and Water coordinating a review of the latest data on the region’s natural assets.
We are using an expert science committee to determine if the trends detected in the last review released in 2016 are continuing or have since changed.
What the 2016 review found
The 2016 review identified that three key regional drivers of change are continuing to impact the extent and condition of SEQ’s natural assets:
- Land use change – Loss of bushland and wetlands due to land use change directly impacts native wildlife and scenic amenity and has a flow on effect on water and air quality and soil health. Over 54,000 hectares of bushland in the region were lost between 2001 and 2009 and in 2016, it was estimated a further 57,000 hectares were at risk.
- Demographic change – The natural assets and liveability of SEQ are major draw cards for business investment and interstate and international migration. Population growth can result in more intensive land use, increased greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, poorer water quality and waterway health, and reduced resilience within natural ecosystems.
- Climate change – Some implications of predictions of a hotter, drier region, with increased frequency of extreme events and continued sea level rise, are increased demands on water supplies, water quality challenges, reduced coastal resilience, and increased flood and wildfire frequency and intensity.
The review recognised the substantial collective regional action and good returns on investment being experienced, but also highlighted there is still a lot of work to do to maintain and enhance our natural assets.
Of the 41 targets defined in the SEQ NRM Plan, 10 headline targets were identified as priority areas for review. These were then assessed, with the review finding that most of the associated natural assets had either declined in condition or were likely to under current ‘business as usual’ planning scenarios.
The current review will build on and update the findings of the 2016 review. It will also address new and emerging threats and opportunities. Importantly, it is being informed and co-owned by an engaged network of stakeholders.
This project is supported by Healthy Land and Water through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Ten natural assets were identified by an expert panel and community roundtables during the last review to help tell a more focused story of how natural resource management can support the achievement of the Plan’s targets.
For each of the 10 natural assets, there is one high-level headline target within the SEQ NRM Plan that measures progress towards success. Each headline target has one or more linked indicators from the SEQ NRM Plan to assist with monitoring natural assets health. For example, protecting and managing bushland and forests also helps to maintain threatened species’ habitat, forest connectivity and wildlife corridors. Achievement of these headline targets is required to enhance and maintain the liveability and prosperity of the region.
The Natural Resource Atlas Story Map illustrates the latest data on condition of the 10 natural assets and the outcomes of our Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP). The EHMP is an annual program that monitors waterway health, with results provided through a Report Card. These results contribute to assessing the status of the water asset and inform progress of ShapingSEQ.
The 10 headline targets are listed below. Click on each target for more information.
|Farmland||Outdoor Recreational Spaces||Seagrass, mangroves and reef||Scenic amenity|
There has been much action and many wins over the lifetime of the NRM Plan.
This is the result of true collaboration and investment from Australian, State and Local Governments, community and environmental groups, industry and research, First Nation People and landholders.
The community of SEQ has on average tripled the value of original funds invested by governments and industry by providing labour and other resources to plan and implement local on ground projects.
A recent snapshot of some of the activities includes:
- Over 175 collaborations resulting in improved natural resource management (2016-2019).
- 40 projects with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
- 9 Indigenous people employed in projects on Country.
- 13 workshops held with 102 participants.
- Management activities for two cultural heritage sites.
- However, a number of barriers are still impacting on communities’ and Traditional Owners’ ability to effectively and fully participate in natural resource management. It is anticipated that the current revision will highlight the enduring barriers and jointly investigate bespoke options.
In the lifetime of the 2004-2014 SEQ NRM Plan, Natural resource management projects in SEQ delivered over 2,350 kilometres of creek bank stabilisation works, 11,460 hectares of bushland management and revegetation, and 16,523 hectares of weed management).
History of the Plan
In 2003, National Resource Management South East Queensland (NRMSEQ) and SEQ Western Catchments Group (SEQWCG) were formed through the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust and National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality programs; each were tasked to develop an NRM plan relating to their area of activity. NRMSEQ developed the SEQ Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan – the Future in the Balance and SEQWCG developed Healthy Land, Our Future – An Integrated Regional Natural Resource Management Plan for the Western Catchments of SEQ.
In 2005, NRMSEQ and SEQ Western Catchments Group merged to form SEQ Catchments Ltd and work started on a new, combined NRM Plan for the region.
In 2009, the new NRM plan for the region, the South East Queensland Natural Resource Management Plan 2009-2031 (the SEQ NRM Plan 2009; DERM 2009) was launched. Development of this whole-of-community plan was undertaken with the broader SEQ community and coordinated by the South East Queensland Regional Coordination Group, namely: Queensland Government, SEQ Traditional Owner Alliance, Growcom, SEQ Catchments Ltd, Healthy Waterways, Consortium for Integrated Resource Management, Queensland Conservation Council, SEQ Water, and Council of Mayors (SEQ).
The SEQ NRM Plan 2009 was purposefully “designed to guide existing and future plans, strategies and actions to coordinate the management and use of natural resources to enhance community, economic and environmental values” (DERM 2009), rather than to be an action- oriented implementation plan, in recognition of the many existing plans within the region. Whilst not statutory, the SEQ NRM Plan 2009 was a Policy in the statutory South East Queensland Regional Plan 2009-2031 (DIP 2009), which required land use change to have due regard to the achievement of NRM targets. Targets in the SEQ NRM Plan 2009 identified the minimum desired extent and, in some cases the condition, of integral components of land and seascapes in the SEQ region. The Plan has 41 targets under the following asset themes:
- Air and atmosphere
- Nature conservation
- Coastal and marine
- Regional landscape areas
- Traditional owners
In 2016, as requirement of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program for specific consideration the impacts of climate change, and in accord with its five-year review cycle, SEQ Catchments completed an update of the SEQ NRM Plan and a review of progress toward achievement of targets. The resulting revised SEQ NRM Plan, Managing Natural Assets for a Prosperous South East Queensland 2014-2031 (Prosperous SEQ; SEQC 2016) also enhanced the target framework by identifying 10 headline targets supported by the remaining 31 targets (referred to as indicator targets), to increase acceptance and improve uptake of the Plan.
- Outdoor recreational spaces
- Seagrass, mangroves and reef
- Scenic amenity
- Air quality
Feedback and engagement
Do you have any feedback regarding the SEQ Natural Resource Management Plan? We would like to hear from you.
This is an opportunity for you to give us your ideas and suggestions and provide insight into what you think needs to happen in your local area or in the region to achieve the goals of the SEQ NRM Plan.
If you would like to get in touch, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.