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Parks Victoria incompetent management of Invasive weeds and animals: Auditor General

In May, 2010, The Auditor General found that Control of Invasive Plants and Animals in Victoria's Parks was complicated, poorly coordinated, and poorly administered.

In May, 2010, The Auditor General also found that Control of Invasive Plants and Animals in Victoria's Parks was complicated, poorly coordinated, and poorly administered. Click here for more on this.

The report was tabled in Victorian Parliament on 26 May 2010

The audit examined the effectiveness of invasive species programs in national and state parks. In particular, it examined the governance arrangements, information systems, planning frameworks and on-ground activities targeting invasive species across the park network.
Among other things, it says,

"Several reports, including the State of the Environment report from the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, have made it clear that Victoria’s biodiversity is in poor condition and declining in most areas. Invasive plants and animals are a major contributor to that decline, and can have substantial economic, environmental and social impacts on parks."

The audit found governance arrangements for the control of invasive species, specifically between the Departments of Sustainability and Environment, Primary Industries and Parks Victoria, are complicated and not well coordinated. There is no single point of focus for oversight or for the responsibility of success or failure.

How well Parks Victoria manages the invasive species threat in parks is unclear. Its planning is not robust, and its data and park management plans are inadequate and increasingly out of date. In addition, monitoring and evaluation of invasive species management activities is inconsistent.

"The governance arrangements for managing invasive species are very complicated and do not clearly assign roles and ultimate responsibility for success or failure. Recent policy emphasises a landscape scale approach—one that disregards
boundaries based on land ownership and use—to manage pervasive threats, such as invasive species. While progress has been made, Parks Victoria (PV) is yet to apply this approach consistently, and no agency is clearly responsible for balancing local and
regional issues with statewide management priorities."

Good progress has been made in managing some invasive species in some parks, but an increasing reliance on short-term initiative funding to address a long-term problem is detrimental to the effectiveness of the effort across the park network.

PV’s human resources management system does not enable accurate reporting on the time spent on invasive species management activities, as it does not differentiate between invasive species activities and other tasks that PV staff routinely
undertake. This is important as invasive species management requires intensive use of human resources. As a consequence, PV could not provide assurance that adequate management activities were occurring, particularly in terms of time spent.

Given the scale of the problem, if these organisational issues and resource constraints are not addressed, invasive species will continue to pose a major and likely growing threat to Victorian parks.

Around 75 per cent of all plant data and 57 per cent of animal data is over 10 years old, while around 30 per cent of plant and animal data is over 20 years old. Data gathering on new and emerging invasive species is not given sufficient emphasis. The lack of universal access to good quality information is hampering coordination between responsible agencies.

Planning and control at the park level There are no park management plans or documents that provide park level detail on threat priorities, the actions to manage these threats or sets out who is responsible for implementing and action. Nearly half of the plans are over a decade old and do not address new and emerging threats—a key element of the current biosecurity
approach.

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