Environment management framework

The management of Australia’s environment involves many components and many organisations. Most land management is undertaken by landholders, Indigenous communities, nongovernment organisations, industry and volunteers, but only a very small proportion of this management is undertaken with the direct purpose of maintaining or improving environmental values. Conversely, most marine management is undertaken by government (both national and state and territory), with significant efforts directed towards environmental management.

Governments at local, regional, state, territory and national levels – in collaboration with partners – implement a broad range of policies and programs designed to tackle major threats to both the terrestrial and marine environments. These include management of protected areas, protection of heritage, and measures to protect threatened species and ecological communities, and to promote their longer-term recovery.

Australia’s Indigenous people have cared for the lands and seas over countless generations and continue to do so today. Their role in caring for Country is far more than environmental management – it is responsibility and stewardship of the land and seas, caring for Country as if land and seas, and plants and animals are kin. There is a complex web of government laws and agreements that relate to Indigenous people and the environment, but – overall – they are not adequate to deliver the rights that Indigenous people seek. Indigenous people are severely impacted in their ability to continue to manage Country and ensure its continued health. The mismanagement of Country that has occurred since colonisation began drives many Indigenous communities to demand management options that recognise and include Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous participation. Indigenous people continue to call for legislative recognition of their right to care for Country.