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Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development defines the goal of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) as ‘development that improves the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends’.

The NCA reports on its ESD commitments through Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

NCA Activities in line with the Principles of ESD

The NCA undertakes activities such as managing National Land and carrying out works to maintain or enhance the character of the National Capital and administering the National Capital Plan in accordance with the principles of ESD outlined in the EPBC Act. ESD considerations are incorporated into the NCA’s policy framework, such as the National Capital Plan.

The NCA has in place other formal guidelines to facilitate staff consideration of ESD and the principles of ESD when undertaking business activities. These guidelines include the Risk Management Policy and Framework, and the Guidelines for Events on National Land.

In all of our functions and operations, the NCA:

  • Develops and implements measures and adopts technologies to minimise waste, energy and natural resource use, and to prevent and minimise pollution.
  • Complies with environmental laws, regulations, agreements and other requirements either directly or through compliance by our contractors and suppliers.
  • Systematically manages activities to achieve and promote continual improvement by setting environmental objectives and targets and assessing our achievements.

The NCA and its employees are committed to improved environmental performance. It achieves this through embedding environmentally friendly practices into everyday activities.

NCA Outcomes Contributing to ESD

The NCA’s outcomes provide the framework for the NCA to ‘manage the strategic planning, promotion and enhancement of Canberra as the National Capital for all Australians through the development and administration of the National Capital Plan, operation of the National Capital Exhibition, and delivery of education and awareness programs and works to enhance the character of the National Capital’.

Effect of NCA Activities on the Environment

The NCA has established a number of corporate initiatives to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment. As a result of corporate environmental efficiency initiatives, the NCA has a work culture that:

  • actively recycles paper, cardboard, toner cartridges and co-mingled waste
  • promotes efficient use of water in kitchens and washrooms
  • efficiently uses paper and office appliances
  • has a conservative approach to the use of office lighting and air conditioning
  • is committed to electronic record-keeping.

The NCA uses 10 per cent green energy on all of its contestable sites managed under the Whole of Government Energy Contract.

To raise awareness of the impact of energy consumption on the environment, the NCA participated in the World Wide Fund for Nature’s ‘Earth Hour’ awareness event in March 2019. This is the 11th year the NCA has been involved in Earth Hour.

Measures taken to minimise the NCA’s Impact on the Environment

Minimising the NCA’s impact on the environment is a key objective of NCA’s strategic planning, promotion and enhancement of Canberra as the National Capital for all Australians. In 2018-19, these measures included:

  • Grinding and screening felled trees and leaves on National Land for re-use as compost and mulch to improve soil condition in garden beds and around young trees.
  • Ongoing use of an upgraded irrigation control system with Cloud-based technology and installation of data loggers on water meters allowing easy identification of water leaks in the system. These measures continued to achieve a reduction in water usage from the previous years.
  • The water within the Lake is observed, sampled and analysed to monitor the Lake’s water quality in accordance with the Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Management Plan and the ACT Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality (the Guidelines) (ACT Health, 2014). This provides information about the environmental health of the Lake as well as providing information to Lake users on the suitability of water based recreation during the recreational season (mid-April to mid-October). All responses and advisories issued due to adverse water quality are in line with protocols, legislation and the Guidelines.
  • Lake water is used for all irrigation in Commonwealth Park instead of treated, potable water. This means water used on these gardens and lawns are not over-treated for this purpose.
  • Ongoing partnership using an Environmental Care Agreement with the Friends of the Grasslands to undertake weed management and re-planting on conservation grasslands in the NCA National Capital Estate.
  • Fuel management which is consistent with the Bushfire Operations Plan for fire-prone areas of National Land, including the conservation grasslands. The Ecological Management Plan for these areas prescribes a number of principles to promote native grasses and lower the fuel load by managing the fire risks. In 2018-19, activities included fire trail maintenance, slashing of firebreaks and three hazard reduction and ecological burns with the assistance of the ACT Rural Fire Service volunteers at Yarramundi Grasslands, Scrivener’s Hut Conservation Woodland and Stirling Park. The NCA continues to implement policies to achieve a sensible balance between the use of the land and the Lake and protection of their environmental and heritage values as set out in the applicable Heritage Management Plans.
  • Minimising the NCA’s impact on the environment is a key objective of NCA’s strategic planning, promotion and enhancement of Canberra as the National Capital for all Australians.
  • Under the National Capital Plan, matters of national significance include ‘development of a city which both respects environmental values and reflects national concerns with the sustainability of Australia’s urban areas’. One of the key objectives of the National Capital Plan is to ‘support and promote environmentally responsible urban development practices’.
  • Active management of the colony of flying foxes in Commonwealth Park through preparing a draft Flying Fox Management Plan, with input from a range of community members and experts – further data on the flying foxes will be gathered in 2019-20 to allow for this plan to be finalised.
  • Following extensive community consultation, developing a draft Tree Management Policy to ensure a robust and consistent approach for the management of urban trees in readiness for current and future challenges – further feedback will be sought in 2019 from the community to allow the policy to be finalised and implemented.