New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory

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There are 42 wilderness areas listed in the 1999 Wilderness Red Index in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, including four overlapping into Victoria, two into Queensland and one into the ACT. There is preliminary information for further 11 areas in western NSW that is included on the internet version of the Index.

The 1999 Wildernes Red Index updates the 1993 Index. Considerable progress has been made during the intervening 6 years, with over a million hectares of new wilderness declared under the NSW Wilderness Act. Of this figure, around 10 per cent was was not previously within National Parks.

An important development in the last six years has been the community proposals for several new wilderness areas and additions to existing areas, covering an additional over half a million hectares.

Forty two wilderness areas are described in detail the Index, fourteen more than in 1993. They represent over 3 percent of the State. From 1993 until 1995, progress on wilderness management has been limited, highlighted by Parliamentary censure of the former Fahey government for its broken wilderness promises, dissection of wilderness into smaller areas divided with minor unsealed four wheel drive roads or horse riding routes. While considerable progress has been made under the Carr Government, there have been significant compromises made to off road vehicle access to these sensitive areas. So far only three of the community based wilderness nominations have been assessed and identified under the Carr Government.

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Wilderness Red Index

Summary of the Overall Status of Wilderness in NSW/ACT

Of the areas described in the index, only five are considered to be satisfactorily managed to retain or restore their values and only one wilderness is protected in Western NSW.

There are 9 new areas and a further 9 additions to existing areas nominated for assessment under the Wilderness Act that have not been considered within the statutory two year time limit. On the other hand, 4 new areas and several additions to a further 5 existing areas will be assessed before 2000 as part of the Southern Forest Comprehensive Regional Assessment.

The Forestry and National Park Estate Act passed by State Parliament in 1998 with the support of all major parties has created a legal barrier to the protection of wilderness on any area of State Forest covered by a logging approval. The same legislation could exclude up to 60,000 ha of wilderness from logging moratorium protection that had been in place since 1995 or earlier, but about 140,000 ha of wilderness leasehold lands will remain protected by a logging moratorium.

Most of the wilderness outside parks is poor grazing land. This is mostly held under leasehold titles which are at long term risk of conversion to freehold and major development. Funding for the acquisition of these lands has been significantly increased since 1996 through the Dunphy Wilderness Fund created by the NSW Government. It will need to be ongoing for at least 10 years to secure these areas.

The western section of the Coolangubra Wilderness is earmarked for logging to feed the Eden woodchip driven timber industry. The Deua and Tuross wilderness areas have been left under threat of logging through delaying the exhibition and determination of areas nominated over 6 years ago.

In a major policy shift, the NPWS is encouraging partnerships with horseriders and 4WD groups who seek innappropriate wilderness access as a key concern.

The Tourism industry is also beginning to make inroads into National Parks, threatening the Jagungal wilderness area which may not be fully assessed by the NPWS.

A massive open cut gold mine has been commenced in the newly identified Timbarra Plateau Wilderness that could pollute the Clarence River system, while coal mining has polluted the Wollongambe River in the Wollemi Wilderness.

The protection of wilderness is essential to the long term survival of our wildlife. Severe habitat modification and fragmentation has resulted in the known extinction of 21 mammal, 21 bird and 7 fish species in Australia. One hundred and seventeen plant species have also become extinct. Many remnant wildlife populations live precariously in an increasingly isolated wilderness archipelago.

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Wilderness Red Index

Threats to Wilderness in NSW

Name Grazing Logging Over burning Trails 4wd Horse riding Powerlines Dams Mining Pollution Weeds Feral animals Management
Banyabba - - - CE P - P

U

Barrington - - CE CE - - CE

U

Bindery CE P CE P - - -

U

Binghi CE P CE CE CE - CE

U

Brindabella CE - CE CE CE - CE

U

Brogo - - - CE P - -

U

Buckenbowra - CE - CE - - P

U

Budawang - - CE CE - - -

U

Bundjalung CE P CE CE - - -

U

Bungonia CE - CE CE P P CE

U

Chandlers Creek CE CE CE CE - - CE

U

Coolangubra - CE P CE - P CE

U

Deua P CE CE CE - - -

U

Ettrema P - CE CE - - -

U

Genoa - - P - - - -

S

Goodradigbee - CE - CE CE - -

U

Grose - - P P - CE CE

U

Guy Fawkes CE CE CE CE - P CE

U

Indi - - - CE P - CE

U

Jagungal CE - - - CE CE P

U

Kanangra P - P P P CE P

U

Kinchega - - - - CE P CE

U

Levers - - - P - - P

S

Lost World - - - P - - P

S

Macleay Gorges CE - CE CE P - CE

U

Mt Ballow - P - - - - CE

U

Mt Kaputar - - - CE - - CE

S

Mummel Gulf P CE P CE - - P

U

Murruin - - P CE - - -

U

Mutawintji - - P CE - - CE

S

Nadgee - - - P - - -

S

Nattai CE - - CE P CE CE

U

New England P CE P P - - -

U

Pilliga CE CE CE CE - - P

U

Snowy Pilot - - - CE - - CE

U

Tabletop P - - CE CE - CE

U

Timbarra CE CE CE P CE CE -

U

Tuross - CE P - - - -

U

Washpool P CE P CE P - -

U

Werrikimbe - P - CE - - -

U

Wollemi P P - CE - P CE

U

Yengo P - - CE - P -

U

KEY:
P Potential threat
CE Continuing/existing
Management:
S Satisfactory U Unsatisfactory

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Wilderness Red Index

Wilderness in NSW - Land Tenure

Name NPWS Estate (ha) State
Forest (ha)
Crown Land (ha) Leasehold
Land (ha)
Freehold
Land (ha)
Total Area (ha) Wilderness Declared (ha)
Banyabba 16,803 121 2,071W - 10

19,005

NONE

Barrington 69,451 1,400 300W - -

71,151

54,883

Bindery 50,515 3,050 - 3,625 928

58,118

43,878

Binghi 20,650 448 834 7,755 4,540

34,227

NONE

Brindabella 12,280 - 8,654 - -

20,934

NONE

Brogo 77,574 - - - 119

77,693

55,950

Buckenbowra 5,400 18,700 - - 900

25,000

NONE

Budawang 86,116 11,565 542 819 794w

99,836

81,710

Bundjalung 8,100 2,100 5,500T - 3,300

19,000

NONE

Bungonia 23,100 - 3,700 12,000 1,200

40,000

NONE

Chandlers Creek 9,264 8,956 - - 63

18,283

NONE

Coolangubra 22,240 2,100 - - -

24,340

NONE

Deua 74,440 49,010 100 3,500 1,300

128,350

34,570

Ettrema 84,312 3,700 11,834 9192 559

109,597

66,146

Genoa 6,620 - - - -

6,620l

6,100

Goodradigbee 116,917 6,728 2,850 503 1,956

128,954l

86,567

Grose 47,900 - 2,100 - 550

50,550

NONE

Guy Fawkes 84,576 11,784 2,590 29,571 5,896

134,417

48,074

Indi z 14,000 - 2,400 - 800

17,200

NONE

Jagungal 92,400 - 4,070 - 1,530

98,000

66,300

Kanangra 134,858 240 10,233 - 1,501

146,832

112,737

Kinchega z 24,000? - - ? -

24,000?

NONE

Levers 15,326 - - 26 1

15,353

NONE

Lost World 19,660 - - - 2

19,662l

15,500

Macleay Gorges 119,662 3,284 90 46,167 7,853w

177,056

68,395

Mt Ballow 3,606 1,600 - - 200

5,406l

NONE

Mt Kaputar z 30,130 - - - -

30,130

30,130

Mummel Gulf 9,500 2,500 - - 300

12,300

NONE

Murruin z 23,700 - 1,200 1,000 2,100

28,000

NONE

Mutawintji z 56,000? - - ? ?

56,000?

47,600

Nadgee 20,376 980 - - -

21,356l

18,879

Nattai 29,947 - - - 477

30,424

29,947

New England 57,945 3,877 73 244 3,860

65,999

50,600

Pilliga 77,114 32,475 - 8,465 8,365

126,419

NONE

Snowy-Pilot z 162,075 140 4,700 - 200

167,115l

155,075

Tabletop z 25,000 - - - -

25,000

NONE

Timbarra - 7,000 - 1,000 3,400

11,400

NONE

Tuross 14,534 14,700 - 300 366

29,900

NONE

Washpool 57,310 9,978 964 3,163 828

72,243

46,515

Werrikimbe 81,505 4,843 4,889 8,197 4,641

104,075

64,263

Wollemi 398,110 23,640 160 - 3,050

424,960

361,000

Yengo 103,685 - 44 33 1,612

105,374

NONE

TOTAL 2,386,701 224,919 69,898 135,560 63,201

2,880,279

1,544,819

KEY: z = not nominated = mostly Sydney Catchment Authority lands (public tenure)
T = marine area w = one portion covered by voluntary conservation agreement
l = adjoins interstate wilderness = declaration fragmented by roads, powerlines or horse trails
W = partly managed by NPWS ? = size unknown

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Wilderness Red Index

Wilderness Areas in New South Wales (Click on the Map for a bigger version)

Map of NSW Wilderness Areas

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Wilderness Red Index

NSW wilderness areas

Click on the following headings for more information, or a description of each one of the named regions.

O The data on flagged wilderness areas in Western NSW is in a more preliminary form and is archieval material from 1994.

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To comment on this site, email: keith@colongwilderness.org.au

Last updated Friday 31-Oct-2003