Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Values Study in the Cessnock Local Government Area and Surrounds



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Introduction

  1. Background


The Lower Hunter region, encompassing five local government areas in NSW (Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Maitland and Cessnock) is one of Australia’s largest urban areas and a major centre of economic activity. Continued growth and development in this area is expected and the NSW Government's 25 year land use strategy for the region includes:

new urban areas for a projected population growth of 160,000 people

new commercial and industrial land to cater for up to 66,000 new jobs

creation, management and conservation of green corridors with high environmental value

protection of high quality agricultural land, and natural resources such as water aquifers and extractive materials (Department of Planning 2006).

As part of the Australian Government’s sustainable population strategy, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC) is undertaking the Sustainable Regional Development program in high growth areas, including the Lower Hunter.

The Sustainable Regional Development program aims to provide a comprehensive approach to planning and development in the region which in turn will ensure the region develops in a strong and sustainable way. Specifically, the program aims to protect Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) whilst helping to streamline environmental approvals and thus provide greater certainty for businesses, and state and local governments in development and investment in this high growth region.

As part of the Sustainable Regional Development program in the Lower Hunter region, a key knowledge gap has been identified by local, state and Commonwealth governments, namely data gaps in relation to the values of the Lower Hunter that may be complementary to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA), and potential direct, indirect and other influences upon these values. The World Heritage area within the Lower Hunter region is contained within the Cessnock Local Government Area (LGA). As a result the study area for this project focuses on the relationship between World Heritage areas and the adjoining lands within the Cessnock LGA.

Land management issues that apply within the Cessnock LGA are considered to be similar to those issues experienced in other parts of the Hunter Valley such as the Central Hunter and Upper Hunter regions. The information contained in this document therefore more broadly reflects the threatening processes and land use issues being experienced in these other parts of the Hunter Valley adjoining the GBMWHA, particularly when considering matters related to land use, biodiversity conservation and particularly consideration of MNES management requirements.

Additional investigation in relation to the values of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) and the lands within Cessnock LGA has been identified by SEWPaC as being needed so that the values of the GBMWHA and other associated lands in the Lower Hunter can be protected and managed as part of the future growth of the Lower Hunter region.


This project is intrinsically related to other studies being undertaken on behalf of SEWPaC under the Sustainable Regional Development program. These other preceding studies relevant to this project include:

Lower Hunter Vegetation Mapping (Parsons Brinckerhoff 2013b)

EPBC Act Listed Ecological Communities Mapping (Parsons Brinckerhoff 2013a)

Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters in the Lower Hunter Region of New South Wales: an assessment of status, identification of high priority habitats and recommendations for conservation (Roderick et al. 2013).

These studies have been used to ensure that consideration of the World Heritage issues relies on the latest information available, particularly for the important biodiversity aspect of the project.

      1. Study area


This project is focussed on the relationship between World Heritage lands and other lands within the Lower Hunter region. In this regard, Cessnock LGA contains all lands identified as World Heritage in the Lower Hunter region, NSW.

The areas identified as World Heritage in the Cessnock LGA consist of Yengo National Park. Other National Parks located outside of the Cessnock LGA and the Lower Hunter Region include Wollemi National Park, Blue Mountains National Park, Gardens of Stone National Park, Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve, Kanangra – Boyd National Park, Nattai National Park and Thirlmere Lakes National Park. This combined World Heritage Area extends from the vicinity of the Hunter River in the north, to the western slopes and foothills of the Great Dividing Range/Blue Mountains and southwards towards Mittagong. It generally surrounds the area known as the Sydney Basin, which contains the city of Sydney. GBMWHA lands within Cessnock LGA are located in the central eastern section of Yengo National Park (Clark et al. 2007; Department of Lands 2013). Yengo National Park is 154,271 ha in area (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009), extending further west beyond the Cessnock LGA boundary to Putty Road (Clark et al. 2007; Department of Lands 2013). Refer to Figure 1.1 for a map of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

In order to ensure that no particular lands were excluded from the assessment within Cessnock LGA, the LGA boundary was used to define the study area. This allowed the values for the entire LGA to be assessed from a World Heritage perspective, ensuring a holistic study could be undertaken.

The scope of the project does not include the Central Hunter or Upper Hunter, which also contain parts of World Heritage areas. However if desired the issues and approaches outlined in this project can be applied to these other parts of the Hunter Valley as required to achieve consistency in decision making at a regional and strategic level. For example, this study could be considered in the strategic assessment of a biodiversity plan for coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley (Commonwealth of Australia and the State of New South Wales, 2013).

The model looks at the entire Cessnock LGA equally and is tenure-blind, ensuring equal treatment of all lands. This study has particular focus on the areas adjoining the existing GBMWHA as these lands logically provide some level of protection to the GBMWHA and have a higher level of interaction than the remainder of Cessnock LGA.

Figure 1.2 shows the study area for this project. Figure 1.3 illustrates the context of the study area land use and vegetation distribution on an aerial photo.



This page should be replaced with the corresponding GIS figure once the document has been pdf'd. This caption page must follow an even numbered page if the figure is A3 size or larger.

This page should be replaced with the corresponding GIS figure once the document has been pdf'd. This caption page must follow an even numbered page if the figure is A3 size or larger.

Figure 1. Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area


This page should be replaced with the corresponding GIS figure once the document has been pdf'd. This caption page must follow an even numbered page if the figure is A3 size or larger.

Figure 1. Study area location



This page should be replaced with the corresponding GIS figure once the document has been pdf'd. This caption page must follow an even numbered page if the figure is A3 size or larger.

Figure 1. Study area aerial photo



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