National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is one of four recognised fire authorities in NSW and is also a major land manager responsible for more than 7 million hectares of land across the state. This includes more than 880 protected areas, consisting of World Heritage-listed sites, Australian National Heritage sites as well as Ramsar Wetlands.
In the years leading up to the 2019–20 bushfire season, NPWS conducted around 79 per cent of all-hazard reduction burning in NSW, often in collaboration with partner agencies. In line with the outcomes of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, the Service is increasing its focus on the implementation of hazard reduction activities in the highest priority areas post 2019-20 bushfire impacts. NPWS is also working with other agencies to explore new and innovative ways to identify and address bushfire risk management across the state. With the formation of the new NPWS Bushfire Risk and Evaluation Unit, a more robust approach to the assessment and treatment of bushfire risk to ecological and cultural values is being developed.
Balancing impacts and expectations is an ongoing challenge for NPWS, particularly as a result of the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season. The management of our protected areas involves a wide range of responsibilities and striking a balance between fire management, biodiversity conservation, protection of cultural values, along with the promotion of sustainable tourism and visitation continues to be a key objective for NPWS.