Reserve planning (also known as strategic planning) is an important component of your role as a non-council Crown land manager (CLM). Strategic plans consider the current state of the Crown reserve that the CLM has care, control and management of, establishes the future direction and goals that you wish to achieve for the reserve, and identifies what actions need to be undertaken to achieve these goals. The lifecycle of a strategic plan is 5-10 years.
At a minimum, the strategic plan needs to:
The department encourages all CLMs to prepare a strategic plan for all Crown reserves in their care, control and management. The department has prepared a template Strategic Plan for non council CLMs to use. If you need any assistance of advice on preparing a strategic plan, contact the department.
While all reserves should have a strategic plan in place for management of reserves more complex non-council Crown reserves may require a dedicated Plan of Management (PoM). The process for preparation of a PoM for non-council CLMs is detailed below and requires Ministerial consent. Plans of management information for Council CLMs is available in the Council CLM section.
A plan of management is the document that defines the value, use, management practices and intent for the broad public purpose for which the land has been reserved or dedicated.
The plan of management should be consistent with the public purpose for the reserve and the principles of Crown land management, as well as other guidelines, policies, and legal requirements that may apply to the reserve. These may include the provisions of environmental planning instruments (for example, a local environmental plan) and development control plans (DCPs) made under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and threatened species or native vegetation controls.
Plans of management must be prepared in accordance with the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (CLM Act) and adopted by the minister administering the CLM Act.
A single plan can be prepared for a number of reserves or commons, if they are managed by a single CLM.
Simple plans of management will tend to include the same content as more complex plans of management, but in varying levels of detail. Content will generally include:
A CLM may, with the consent of the minister, prepare a plan of management for a Crown reserve. Plans of management also require formal adoption by the minister. Draft plans should be forwarded to the department for referral to the minister. Once a plan of management is in place it should be subject to regular review.
The minister can also request a CLM prepare a plan of management, or have one prepared by the department that would then be given to a CLM for comment.
Many reserves will not need a plan of management as the reserve land may be easy to manage and its operations relatively straightforward. However, the use of more formal management strategies may still assist in the operation of these reserves and should be prepared and implemented where appropriate.
Plans of management consolidate information about the reserve and its users, and clearly state what, why, how and by whom the values of a reserve are being managed.
Plans of management do not need to be lengthy documents. In some cases they might be a short written statement about how the reserve is to be managed in line with its purpose. In other cases a more detailed document may be required to resolve differing opinions as to how the reserve should be managed.
A plan of management can fulfill many purposes. A CLM can use a plan of management to, for example:
Plans of management are a good way of setting directions and providing a framework for the strategic and operational use and management of a reserve.
Note: Under the NSW Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act), it is mandatory to prepare a plan of management for land defined as 'community land'. Community lands are owned directly by a local council. As such, Crown land is not part of a local council’s holding of community land and is therefore not captured in the LG Act.
The CLM Act does not specify when to prepare a plan of management. A CLM may, with the consent of the minister, prepare a plan of management. However, the minister may also require a CLM to prepare one.
If a plan of management is prepared, it must be done in accordance with the legal requirements of the CLM Act. These requirements are summarised below and in the diagram below.
Before preparing a plan of management you should contact the department. The CLM must seek prior consent from the minister to prepare a plan of management.
Follow the steps outlined below.
CLMs should regularly monitor and evaluate the progress of the implementation and review the action plan, for example annually. This may involve staff supervision to check that actions are undertaken, regular site inspections, the collection of data, and a review of the CLM’s financial statements. The results of this monitoring can then be measured against the intended outcomes of the plan of management, in order to assess the overall success of the implementation.
If the proposals set out in the plan are not being met, the CLM should consider either devoting more resources to its implementation or, where this is not feasible, proposing certain amendments to the plan with the permission of the minister.
Following are some guidelines as to content of a plan of management.
The introduction should cover:
Generally the aim of the plan of management should be to clearly articulate, in one place, how the reserve is to be managed.
The CLM may desire other outcomes, such as to provide the framework for developing the land, to deal with specific issues, or to improve the financial position of the reserve, as examples.
The first thing to clarify when developing a plan of management is the purpose of the reserve. The purpose for which the land is reserved will point to the value of the reserve and provide the basis for relevant management activities. For example, there is no clear connection or value in establishing a child care facility at a reserve where the purpose is environmental conservation.
In addition, the plan of management should clarify the values of the reserve. For example, is the reserve’s value primarily because of its natural resources such as vegetation, its cultural values such as historic houses, or social values such as showground events. Other values include education, recreation, visual, scientific, or as a resource for future generations.
The plan of management must be based on the purpose of the reserve and its values. There are always management issues associated with a reserve, and while it is important that a plan of management clarifies how these issues will be resolved, the plan should not be based on these issues.
A plan of management should have a clearly specified timeframe. The priorities for reserve management can change over time, so the timeframe of the plan should not be too long. Typically the timeframe is five to 10 years.
Preparation of the first plan of management for a reserve may take up to two years. The subsequent review and update of the plan should not be a difficult or time-consuming process because a large part of the contents will not change.
However, in some circumstances it may be necessary to amend significant portions of the plan. For example, the values and expectations the community puts on the reserve may change over time. The process of reviewing plans of management helps to articulate such changes in value and may lead to a proposal to change the purpose of the reserve.
Public use and enjoyment of the reserve is consistent with the purpose of most reserves managed by CLMs. The plan of management should outline:
Disabled access requirements and other special services (if required) should be addressed.
Where activities are additional to the purpose for which the land was set aside, it needs to be clear that the plan of management is authorising an additional purpose or purposes to permit those activities.
The plan of management should indicate the environmental values that need to be protected and how this will be achieved.
Common issues to address include management of bushfire risk, weeds, feral animals, threatened species, heritage structures, Aboriginal cultural heritage.
The plan of management should also address sustainable use of resources, for example recycling programs and water conservation.
Income-producing avenues for the reserve should be explored in the plan of management. Funding is an issue for many reserves and income-producing opportunities need to be maximised. Any commercial use of a reserve must be consistent with the reserve purpose unless an additional purpose is authorised in a plan of management, a lease granted by the minister, or by other separate authorisation by the minister.
It may be that areas of the reserve can be leased or licensed. Details of any existing or proposed new leases or licences should be incorporated in the plan. The plan should also include a statement that the granting of any commercial lease or licence opportunities will be dealt with by way of public competition.
Where plans of management are to make provision for the leasing and licensing of facilities to commercial operators or special interest groups, they need to address:
Refer to Leases and Licences section for further information.
There have been examples where proposed plans of management have little chance of being implemented because funds are not available to carry out the intentions and/or the plan does not address how such funds will be sourced.
A plan of management should indicate the level of current income and expenditure available to the reserve manager, the likely source of other available funds (both current and proposed), and how these might be used to implement the plan of management.
The plan of management should outline how risks are and will be managed. For example, if a risk assessment has not been completed, this could be a high-priority action in the plan of management. Alternatively (and preferably) the risk assessment should be undertaken at the same time as the plan of management and actions for addressing identified risks included in the action plan.
A risk management checklist can assist in identifying risks and appropriate response strategies.
Risk management should include how the reserve will be maintained in a safe manner and include bushfire management (if appropriate).
The areas of management mentioned above provide the strategic framework for the management of the reserve. An action plan is also required to set out how the strategies will be achieved. The action plan should identify for each of the above strategies (and any other strategies included in the plan of management):
A plan of management may authorise a purpose additional to the public purpose for which the land was dedicated or reserved.
The CLM Act sets out the consultation and other processes that must be followed in the preparation of a plan of management that authorises an additional purpose. The community will have a say in the proposal through the community consultation and public exhibition components used in the preparation of the plan of management.
If the CLM is seeking to prepare a plan of management that proposes an additional purpose, the reserve manager must advise the minister of the proposal when seeking the minister’s prior approval to prepare the plan of management.
The minister may also direct a CLM board to prepare a plan of management that considers an additional purpose. The minister can specify the matters that must be addressed within the draft plan of management and can also impose conditions.
The minister may require the CLM to consult on the draft plan with any persons or bodies, and to exhibit the draft plan in accordance with the notice. The minister may alter or amend the plan at any stage prior to adoption, and may stop the preparation of a plan of management that authorises additional uses or not adopt the plan.
In deciding whether to adopt a plan of management that authorises an additional purpose, the minister must have regard to the declared purpose of the reserve, the compatibility of the additional purpose with the declared purpose, the principles of Crown land management, impacts on native title and the public interest.
Keep plans of management as simple as possible. While it is important to collect and keep detailed information about the reserve, this is probably best placed in an appendix to the plan of management or a resource document on the reserve.
Hold workshop sessions with the community, prior to preparing and/or gaining consent from the minster to prepare a plan of management. That way, the community’s views and expectations can be used to help determine the future direction of the reserve and its management. Workshops could be facilitated by an independent consultant.
The preparation of a plan of management does not need to be an expensive or complicated process. Some CLMs might find it easier to first work through the items covered by this handbook and determine how they relate to the management of the reserve. The outcome could then provide a draft management plan, which could then be finessed through public consultation to become an adopted plan of management.
Most importantly, consult with the department as early as possible in the process, for advice and direction.
Currently adopted plans of management and draft plans of management available on the department's website are a good starting point for understanding generally what is involved in a plan of management. Remember to contact the department before commencing work on a plan of management.
This Crown land manager web resource was printed on 30 May 2023. The information contained in this web resource is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing May 2023. However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that the information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information by referring to the website (www.reservemanager.nsw.gov.au).
© State of New South Wales through Department of Planning, Industry & Environment 2023.
Page link: https://reservemanager.crownland.nsw.gov.au/land-management/plans-of-management