Natural resource management

The people of NSW rely on the health of our natural resources and productivity of our landscapes. Australia's agricultural industries rely on sustainable water and vegetation management, healthy soils and biodiverse ecosystems.

Effective natural resource management ensures that appropriate measures are in place to maintain and preserve our natural assets.

Local Land Services is committed to working with our communities towards sustainable land use and the protection of natural resources.


The foundation of sustainable land management and overall ecosystem health is soil management.

Healthy and stable soils underpin agricultural productivity and provide us with food, vegetation and fibre production. Soils perform important services such as filtering pollutants, absorbing water to reduce flooding and degrading organic waste.

Without proper management, soils can become degraded, leading to reduced vegetation and water quality which puts our agricultural industries at risk. It is important to make sure that soils and landscapes are maintained and looked after.

Our staff are on the ground to support services and activities that address key issues such as:

  • soil fertility - salinity, acidity, nutrients
  • soil biology - the number, condition and type of soil biota
  • physical characteristics - structure, sodicity and erosion.

Supporting healthy soils and landscapes is critical to resilient, profitable and sustainable farm businesses.


Water management is an essential part of rural living. Efficient use of water can minimise costs and maximise the benefit to you, your property and downstream users.

Maintaining sufficient groundcover and effective riparian buffers is crucial steps to reducing erosion, maintaining good water quality in waterways.

In addition, rivers and creeks are vital living ecosystems that carry water from catchments into estuaries and oceans. They support thousands of species of fish, frogs, aquatic plants and insects, while yielding water for drinking, agriculture, industry and recreation.

Water extracted from rivers contributes to the economic wealth of the region, but extracting too much water may have severe impacts on aquatic ecosystems, especially during periods of drought, so it’s important this is managed effectively.

Natural aquatic ecosystems have adapted over tens of thousands of years to natural flow regimes. Water extraction should not compromise the basic ecosystem processes supported by these regimes.

Our core programs and activities related to aquatic ecosystem conservation and management are:

  • regional and sub-catchment NRM planning, including climate change mitigation and aquatic ecosystem adaption options
  • knowledge generation, collation and exchange to ensure that sound scientific knowledge and principles are applied to achieve fully functioning and productive landscapes
  • promotion of aquatic ecosystem conservation practices and capacity building to encourage collaboration and shared responsibility
  • development and delivery of regional aquatic ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation programs
  • monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement.

Water law

When it comes to the regulation and management of water in NSW, WaterNSW is responsible for :

  • managing access to water
  • ensuring equitable sharing of water
  • applications for licences and other approvals (such as building structures in streams)
  • investigating illegal activity.

Relevant legislation includes the Water Management Act 2000, the Water Management Regulation 2011 and the Water Management Amendment Act 2014.

There are three types of basic landholder rights in NSW under the Water Management Act 2000:

  1. Domestic and stock rights
  2. Native title rights
  3. Harvestable rights.

For further information regarding these basic landholder rights and management of water in NSW, visit the WaterNSW website.

Find out more about how water is managed in NSW.

Native plants and animals

Native vegetation and habitat protection

Over the past two centuries, much of the original native vegetation across NSW has been cleared for agriculture and other land uses.

One way to support natural biodiversity and help manage soils is to ensure that areas on your land are set aside for native vegetation and animals.

It’s important that we maintain and re-establish the natural ecosystems of the landscape where we can.  

There are multiple benefits from the presence of native vegetation on your farm including:

  • stabilising soil
  • preventing sedimentation into waterways
  • providing shelter to livestock
  • providing habitat for a range of native wildlife
  • reducing the spread of windblown seeds such as serrated tussock
  • providing a beautiful landscape.

Re-establishing native vegetation helps to restore and link remnant patches of native vegetation on private and public lands, enhancing their value as wildlife corridors and biological reserves.

When planning a replanting program, always try to use locally sourced seed or plants and choose species that are appropriate for your area to support native plants and animals.

Find out more about native vegetation management under the Local Land Services Act 2013 and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Native animals

All native animals in NSW are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. This means that it is illegal to trap, kill or harm them unless licensed to do otherwise.

You can apply to control certain native species however through the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Find out more about kangaroo management in NSW.

The Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 sets out to prevent the extinction and promote the recovery of threatened species, populations and ecological communities.

Damaging or harming any listed native plants, animals and ecological communities may require consent, even on private property. If you are considering developing property or clearing land, you may need to have a threatened species survey and an assessment of significance.

You can find out about potential threatened species on your property by searching the NSW Bionet.

For more information about replanting programs, native plant and animal management or biodiversity contact your Local Land Services office.


Wetlands are a community of plants and animals that relies wholly or partly on water to survive and are environmentally, culturally and historically important to the NSW region. About 4.5 million ha, or six per cent of NSW, is classified as wetlands.

There are a number of threats to wetlands including vegetation clearing, draining, overgrazing by livestock, contamination from excessive pesticide and fertiliser use, the presence of pest animals and plants such as carp, pigs and willows and the expansion of urban areas.

What can I do to protect wetlands?

You can support healthy wetlands in a variety of ways:

  • minimise disturbance to wetlands on your property
  • erect fences to manage stock access to wet areas
  • establish a buffer zone between your wetland and grazing or cropping land
  • practice conservation farming techniques, including good chemical management
  • form or join a community group to care for a wetland near your town or city
  • avoid clearing dead wood and trees from wetlands as they provide valuable native habitat
  • monitor the wetland area for weeds and pest animals regularly
  • restore wetlands and natural water flows, communicating your plans with your local community where possible
  • encourage native vegetation to grow in and around wetlands
  • allow low-lying back swamps to fill and drain naturally so they can provide productive native grazing species such as water couch
  • organise regular clean-up activities at your local wetland.

For more information regarding the management and maintenance of wetlands, contact your Local Land Services office.


Biodiversity is the variety of plants and animals that exist in an area. Ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity are more resilient and healthy and are better able to recover from outside stresses such as drought, pests, wildfire and climate change.

Understanding biodiversity gives us the ability to more effectively address environmental challenges including:

  • controlling pests and supporting species that pollinate crops
  • maintaining groundwater tables
  • absorbing carbon
  • protecting water quality.

Our staff are on the ground to support best practice and planning for effective environmental services.

For more information regarding biodiversity, contact your Local Land Services office.

Our natural resource management partnerships

National Landcare Program

Local Land Services is part of the network of regional organisations that are delivery agents under the National Landcare Program.

This program protects and conserves Australia’s water, soil, plants, animals and ecosystems, as well as support the productive and sustainable use of these valuable resources.

The National Landcare Program has been developed to address problems such as:

  • loss of vegetation
  • soil degradation
  • the introduction of pest weeds and animals
  • changes in water quality and flows
  • changes in fire regimes.

Find out more about the National Landcare Program.

Working with Landcare communities

Local Land Services partners with Landcare community groups across each of the state regions to deliver many natural resource management and agricultural projects.

At the state level Local Land Services in partnership with Landcare NSW deliver the NSW Landcare Program as a collaborative initiative enhancing the capacity of the Landcare community to deliver outcomes that address local and regional issues. This program is funded by the NSW Government and expands on the recently concluded Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative.

Find out more about the NSW Landcare Program and Local Land Services partnership with Landcare NSW.

Catchment Action NSW

Catchment Action NSW is the NSW Government’s regionally-delivered funding program to address state natural resource management priorities through evidence-based on-ground programs and activities.

We manage the investment of this funding, which is delivered by our 11 regions to complement other environmental funding initiatives.

Find out more about Catchment Action NSW.

Related information