Advice to the Environmental Trust

The NSW Environmental Trust is an independent statutory body created by the Environmental Trust Act 1998. The Trust is administered by the Department of Planning and and Environment. The Trust awards grants for environmental projects and supervises how they are used.

The Commission works with the Trust, as requested, to provide advice on natural resource management evaluation and project design, particularly in regards to the Trust’s major projects funding stream.

Currently, we are working with the Trust on the following projects:

Evaluation of nature based tourism

The Environmental Trust requested us to undertake an independent evaluation of three projects, funded under the Grow Sustainable Nature-Based Tourism program, including the:

  • NSW National Parks Young Adults Brand Campaign
  • Commercial Tour Operators Small Grant Program
  • Wilder Quest Learning.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has been managing these projects since 2013-14 with $4.3 million funding from the Trust.

Our evaluation will determine whether the projects have achieved their desired outcomes, identify lessons learned and provide recommendations for future Trust projects in nature-based tourism.

In collaboration with the Trust, we developed an evaluation framework that was used to analyse key documents and interviews.

We will provide a final report to the Trust in early 2023.

Evaluation of linear reserves project

We undertook an independent evaluation of the Environmental Trust’s Linear Reserves Program, which covered two separate projects:

  • Managing Travelling Stock Reserves for sustainable conservation outcomes
  • Council Roadside Reserves.

Linear reserves include roadsides, travelling stock reserves, rail corridors and infrastructure easements.

The Linear Reserves Program aimed to develop a land management and funding framework to increase the capacity of land managers to manage key conservation assets to deliver improved conservation outcomes.

We evaluated the design, delivery and achievement of project outcomes as well as identified lessons for future Trust projects.

The evaluation was informed by online surveys and interviews with project participants, interviews with key Trust staff and agency partners involved in the program, and reviews of program and project documentation.

We submitted a final report to the Trust in early November 2022 and will make the report available after it has been considered by the Trust.

Evaluation of feral deer management

The NSW Environmental Trust has engaged the Commission to evaluate the cost-effective cross-tenure feral deer management project.

The project is being managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), together with a range of community and research partners. The project has $9.2 million in funding from the Trust and a further $7.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions. The project is being delivered over an eight-year period, from July 2019 to June 2027. The project aims to develop new cost-effective, humane and coordinated control techniques for feral deer in NSW to ensure population levels can be managed sustainably by land managers into the future.

Importantly, the evaluation of this project is piloting a new evaluation strategy for the Environmental Trust's major projects, as recommended by the Commission. The strategy recognises a need for high-risk and/or long-term major projects to have evaluation activities during the implementation of projects to:

  • identify early indicators of project failure that need to be addressed
  • identify lessons that have applicability across other projects
  • provide assurance the project is being managed effectively
  • ensure the correct information is being collected to support evaluation activities.

Overseeing forest dieback research program

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