- The Rangelands covers the western part of the state, comprising 57 % of NSW. Cool rangelands also occur on the tableland areas of NSW but are not included in this report.
- There are 9 bioregions wholly or partly within the rangelands portion of NSW.
- The climate is semi arid with rainfall decreasing from 400+mm in the east down to 200 mm per year in the west. Rainfall tends to be more summer dominant in the north of the state and more winter dominant in the south. Most of the rangelands within NSW are flat to gently undulating. They are generally part of the Murray Darling Basin, although the far north west of the state is part of the Bulloo and Lake Eyre catchments.
- Most of the rangelands fall within the Western Division of NSW, administered by the Department of Land and Water Conservation.
- The Tenure is predominantly Crown leasehold under the Western Lands Act of 1901 with small areas of freehold, Aboriginal land and National Parks. World Heritage Areas include the Willandra Lakes Region.
- Vegetation types include grassland, chenopod shrublands, open woodlands and tall riverine woodlands.
- Pastoralism is the dominant land use with sheep being the main enterprise. The NSW dingo fence plays an important role in protecting this industry. Intensive irrigation of cotton and horticulture occur along major rivers such as the Darling, together with significant areas of cereal cropping interspersed with grazing along the eastern and southern edges.
- Mining occurs at centres such as Broken Hill, Cobar and Lightning Ridge.
- There are significant Aboriginal populations, particularly in many of the towns along the river systems.
Administration ArrangementsThe NSW Government has several agencies with responsibility for natural resource management in the rangelands of the State:
- Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC): The key role of DLWC is to plan and manage land, vegetation and water use in NSW to support the social and economic base of the region without placing the environment at risk. The DLWC was formed in 1995 as an amalgamation of the previous Department of Lands, Soil Conservation Service, Department of Water Resources and sections of the Department of Public Works. The first two entities had been combined into the Department of Conservation and Land Management in 1992. The Department plays a major role in the assessment, allocation, management and monitoring of the natural resources of NSW. It has responsibility for strategic planning in relation to land vegetation and water use generally and also for developing and implementing overall environmental policies. This department oversees the use of pastoral lands through the Western Lands Act, Native Vegetation Conservation Act, Water Act, Soil Conservation Act, Rivers and Foreshores Act, Catchment Management various other pieces of legislation.
- National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS): The NSW National Parks and Wildlife has responsibility for protection and management of parks and reserves and for the protection of native flora, fauna and natural and cultural heritage of the State. This responsibility includes research, surveys and conservation, education and communication programs about natural resource conservation. In the Rangelands the NPWS carries out responsibilities under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, The Threatened Species Act and the Wilderness Act. The Service is also responsible for the development and support of a number of agreements between itself and landholders for joint management of lands in relation to biodiversity conservation.
- NSW Agriculture (NSW Ag) is responsible for the provision of technical, marketing and economic support services to pastoral, agricultural and horticultural industries. NSW Ag provides a range of research, advisory and marketing services to pastoralists and agricultural operators including support for whole farm planning and general advice on integrated resource management.
- State Forests of New South Wales is responsible for sustainably managing the forest resources of NSW. They retain Crown Timber Rights on the pastoral leases of NSW. State Forests' goal is to manage the forests under its care to provide the widest range of benefits to the present and future generations of people in NSW. This goal is measured against commercial efficiency, environmental care and the social contribution.
- The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was established in March 1992 under the Protection of the Environment Administration Act and is required to administer various pieces of legislation on behalf of the environment and the community. The EPA's philosophy is that pollution prevention is as important as control. In addition to its regulatory functions the EPA is active in environmental education, environmental economics, environmental research and monitoring, and regular reporting on the state of the environment in NSW. The EPA works in active partnership with all sectors of the community, including industry, government and non-government organisations.
- NSW Fisheries is the agency responsible for managing the fisheries resources of New South Wales. The agency provides management, scientific research, advisory and compliance services. It advises the government on the use and conservation of fisheries resources. In consultation with industry and the community, NSW Fisheries develops policies and regulations on resource sharing and allocation. Principal legislation administered by the department comprises the Fisheries and Oyster Farm Act 1935 and the Fisheries Management Act 1994.
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