Australian Society for Limnology

ASL working group on representative reserves:


Many Australian environmental scientists and planners will be familiar with the development of comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve systems in terrestrial environments.   This terminology (and the process behind it) is currently being applied to the marine environment, driven primarily by concerns relating to the protection of biodiversity, and the benchmarking of sustainable management.    "Comprehensive, adequate and representative" (CAR) protected areas are fundamental components of the international Convention on Biological Diversity 1992, and the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity 1996.

Six of Australia's eight State and Territory jurisdictions are committed, by various policy statements, to the development of representative freshwater reserves.  The exceptions are South Australia and Tasmania; however both these States are currently developing wetland strategies, providing a possibility for commitments to be made in this direction in the near future.  While clear commitments to develop representative freshwater reserve systems have been made over the last decade, programs to develop such reserve systems, for the most part, have remained un-funded.  These commitments currently lack support from those responsible for funding their implementation: senior bureaucrats and politicians.

There is the opportunity, perhaps, for ASL to play a part in providing advice on the development of representative freshwater reserves systems - which may well gain prominence over the next  year or two, as understanding of their role and importance becomes more widespread.

The title of the working group is a compromise. It's short, but it doesn't convey the scope of the working group as well as a longer, clumsy title would.  A more accurate title would use the internationally accepted term "protected area" instead of "reserve".  Where the term "freshwater" is used, this should be read as shorthand for "aquatic inland", and includes inland saline wetlands, and estuaries whose ecologies are heavily dependent on streamflow.  The term "aquatic" is too wide, providing an opportunity for confusion with marine reserves.  Strictly speaking, the title should probably be: "the ASL working group on representative river, lake, wetland and aquifer protected areas".

Rivers, wetlands and aquifers lie within complex layers of land ownership and management.  Even where the ecosystems themselves are protected by surrounding nature reserves under Crown ownership, human activities both upstream and downstream can have major effects.  The proposed discussion paper will overview these issues, recognising both existing ownership and management frameworks, as well as koori claims to land and water resources.

Working Group objective:

The objective of the working group is to explore the need for an ASL policy on the development of systems of comprehensive, adequate and representative aquatic reserves, covering rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers.   The working group will develop a discussion paper, which will appear on this site.   At this stage it seems likely that discussion amongst ASL members, as it develops surrounding the draft paper, may indicate that an ASL policy document should be prepared on representative reserves.   In this case the the working group would prepare a draft policy as an Appendix to the final version of the discussion paper.

Working arrangements:

The working group is comprised of members of ASL with an interest in representative reserves.  The group is convened by Jon Nevill.  The group  reports to the ASL Policy Committee through Deb Nias (ASL Policy Committee Coordinator) and Jane Chambers (ASL President).

A reference group has also been established to include people interested in the area, either outside the ASL, or within the ASL where a lack of time prevents the stronger commitment to the issue attached to membership of the working group.

Membership of the working group.

Membership of the reference group.         Email Jon Nevill with inquiries about the groups.


Progress on developing the Discussion Paper.

The development of representative reserves systems in terrestrial and marine environments (extract from the first version of the ASL draft discussion paper; Word97, 70 kbytes).

Background paper:   Nevill, Jon (February 2001) Freshwater Biodiversity.  Published in hard copy by the Water Research Foundation of Australia (Australian National University, Canberra) - 130 pages; MS Word97 format: 600 kbytes.  Download instructions.

Comments on general "reserve" issues by group members.

Australia's National Reserve System Program

R Thackway 1997: Towards a representative system of ecologically-based reserves

Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia

Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database (CAPAD)

National Reserve System Program Report (PDF, 800 kbytes).

Ecological Society of Australia draft position paper on protected areas ( Ecological Society of Australia, Bulletin, June 2001, MSWord97 doc, 40 kbytes)


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