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Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

Sustainable Management of Ecosystems

Land Management

The findings of the National Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management undertaken by the Council of Australian Governments are being progressively incorporated, where applicable, into the review of the Defence Bushfire Management Policy that commenced in 2003-04.

Defence continued to promote sustainable environmental management of its properties. In February 2005, Defence circulated the National Guidelines for the Management of Feral Animals, Weeds and Overabundant Native Species on the Defence Estate to ensure the sustainable environmental management of its properties for continued Defence use.

Environmental protection requirements were incorporated into the planning and conduct of major exercises. Data on the environmental impacts of Talisman Sabre 05 were successfully collected as part of a trial Defence commissioned into the use of handheld computer/Geospatial Information Systems to assess the capacity of the technology to deliver more efficient environmental monitoring and reporting.

The Defence Estate Sustainability Assessment Tool was developed and used to identify, document and categorise environmental and social factors posing significant risks to the sustainability of 30 major Defence bases and training areas across Australia. A framework to ensure the long-term sustainability of Defence land-based training areas is under development.

Interaction with Marine and Aquatic Environment

Defence continued its significant role in conservation efforts through 2004-05 by funding independent scientific research into the ecology of blue and pygmy whales off the Western Australia coast. The findings were used to upgrade and expand information relating to the whales and monitor the sub-surface krill on which they feed. The research is critical for sustainable use of maritime exercise areas adjacent to Fleet Base West.

The Proof and Experimental Establishment at Port Wakefield (South Australia) is in the final stages of the nomination process with the Department of the Environment and Heritage after being nominated in 2003-04 for inclusion on the list of Wetlands of International Importance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Flora and Fauna Interaction

Threatened Species Management

During 2004-05, Defence received a report from the Department of the Environment and Heritage on the conservation values of Commonwealth land in western Sydney (New South Wales). The review highlighted that the relatively undeveloped Defence properties in western Sydney were some of the few remaining strongholds for Cumberland Plain Woodland vegetation. Defence is currently working with the Department of the Environment and Heritage to develop appropriate management plans to conserve and protect these large areas of remnant vegetation.

Defence continued to contribute to the sustainable management of its training areas across Australia, through the application of sustainable environmental management practices. Strategies included environmental impact and risk assessments, developing and improving Environmental Management Plans and Standing Orders and implementing projects in relation to threatened species.

A project to re-establish the Eastern Bristlebird, which commenced last year, is continuing and the relocation of the bird into suitable habitat within Beecroft Weapons Range on Beecroft Peninsula on the New South Wales coast is proving to be successful. In conjunction with the University of Wollongong and Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay, Defence is monitoring the movements of the relocated birds to ensure the success of the program.

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