The over-arching objective of APLC's environmental management program is to manage and minimise impacts on the environment resulting from locust monitoring and control operations, including the risks involved with pesticide use. The APLC ensures that its operations fully comply with all relevant state and Commonwealth environmental legislation and has adopted the Australian Government's Annual Voluntary Public Environmental Reporting initiative.
Environmental legislation in Australia is increasingly focussing on the need for proponents of threatening actions to demonstrate that they have due diligence processes in place for actions that could potentially impact the environmental conservation values of the environment. This increase in environmental duty of care is evident in both state and Commonwealth legislation affecting the APLC.
At the Commonwealth level the primary piece of environmental legislation governing locust control is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC). The APLC referred its locust control activities to the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) for assessment under this Act in May 2001. A determination was made by DEWHA at that time that the Environment Minister's approval would not be required at the commencement of each locust control campaign, but in line with the APLC environmental policy the APLC provides regular reports to DEWHA on the implementation of its Environmental Management System (EMS) and other elements of the process to minimise environmental impacts.
At the state level, legislation such as Queensland's Environment Protection Act 1994 states that everyone has a 'general environmental duty to take reasonable and practical measures to prevent or minimise environmental harm'. An increasing level of individual environmental responsibility is being incorporated into environmental legislation at this level.
The issue of due diligence and duty of care for the environment is also prominent at the corporate level. The APLC is committed to achieving appropriate environmental, social and economic goals. It has developed and implemented an Environmental Management System to record and account for actions taken to improve environmental performance. The APLC also has an ongoing environmental research and monitoring program, the results of which are incorporated into operations through regular revision of locust control and other practices.
An element of the APLC environmental management strategy is to minimise the impact of its operations on rare and threatened fauna species. The APLC has data sharing agreements with relevant state agencies, catchment management authorities and others to ensure that appropriate restrictions are applied to its activities in identified restricted or sensitive locations. This information is available as maps on computers used in all APLC field operations. For example the APLC has established agreements with the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change to apply appropriate buffers to the mapped habitat areas of the endangered bird, the Plains wanderer, in the NSW Riverina, when applying chemical pesticides near its mapped habitat areas, and to use the Metarhizium biopesticide within habitat areas if locust control is critical to an overall campaign outcome.