Environment Law in the Northern Territory

Management obligations for biodiversity conservation

A central component of many biodiversity conservation laws is the legal requirements relating to how threatened species and biodiversity must be managed.

Northern Territory management approaches

In the Northern Territory, the management of wildlife under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act is to be carried out in accordance with the Principles of Management.  This means, carried out in a manner that promotes:[i]

  • the survival of wildlife in its natural habitat
  • the conservation of biological diversity within the Northern Territory
  • the management of identified areas of habitat, vegetation, ecosystem or landscape to ensure the survival of populations of wildlife within those areas
  • the control or prohibition of:
    • the introduction or release of prohibited entrants into the Northern Territory; and
    • any other act, omission or thing that adversely affects, or will or is likely to adversely affect, the capacity of wildlife to sustain its natural processes; and
  • the sustainable use of wildlife and its habitat.

Species of wildlife are to be managed in a manner that:

  • accords with their classification; and
  • in the case of threatened wildlife – maintains or increases their population and the extent of their distribution within the Territory at or to a sustainable level (which may include breeding in captivity).

Feral animals are to be managed in a manner that:

  • reduces their population and the extent of their distribution within the Territory; and
  • controls any detrimental effect they have on wildlife and the land.

Wildlife Management Programs

Under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, the Parks and Wildlife Commission may formulate and implement:[ii]

  • wildlife management programs for the protection, conservation, sustainable use, control and management of wildlife;
  • management programs for the control and management of feral animals; or
  • management programs for the prohibition, control and management of prohibited entrants.

In formulating and implementing a wildlife management program, the Parks and Wildlife Commission must take into account:[iii]

  • the classification of the wildlife;
  • the habitat of the wildlife;
  • the extent to which parks and reserves (including parks and reserves established under a law of the Commonwealth or Territory) assist in the conservation of the wildlife;
  • the population of the wildlife and the causes of any known increases or decreases in the population;
  • any known response by the wildlife to any action taken for the purpose of the protection, conservation, control, sustainable use or management of the wildlife; and
  • the obligations of the Commonwealth under international treaties and agreements relating to the protection and conservation of wildlife.

A wildlife management program must provide for a review of the program to be undertaken at appropriate intervals.

A recent example of a Management Program approved under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act is the Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile, which is valid until 30 June 2014.

Commonwealth management approaches

At the Commonwealth level, when a species is listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, several management and other plans may be prepared.  These include:

Key Threatening Processes may be identified (and listed) if a process threatens, or may threaten, the survival, abundance or evolutionary development of a native species or ecological community.

Management of Commonwealth Reserves by Commonwealth agencies (notably the Director of National Parks, Parks Australia and the Department of the Environment) must be undertaken in accordance with the Management Plan for the land.[iv]  A person must not kill, injure, take, trade, keep or move a member of a native species in a Commonwealth reserve except in accordance with a management plan in operation for the reserve.[v]

Example – Management of Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is a Commonwealth Reserve under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, a world heritage place and Ramsar wetland.  The management plan of Kakadu National Park can be accessed from the Department for the Environment website. Title to Aboriginal Land in the Park under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act[vi] is held by Aboriginal Land Trusts for the purpose of it being managed as a reserve.  Kakadu National Park is jointly managed by Aboriginal Land Owners and Parks Australia.


[i] s31 Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[ii]s32(1) Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[iii]s32(2) Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[iv]s361 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

[v]s354 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

[vi] s4 Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976