Operations Cluster and Working Groups

Cluster Chair: Garry Hall, Department of the Environment and Energy (Commonwealth)

Vice-Chair: Bryce Hertslet, Department of Environment and Science (QLD)

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Operations Cluster Collaboration Page

The Operations Cluster works in partnership with other enforcement agencies such as the Australian Federal Police, INTERPOL and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. As well as general information sharing, the cluster also undertakes specific projects as requested by the AELERT Steering Committee. These projects may relate to waste, water, flora and fauna, pollution and other areas of concern for environmental regulatory agencies.

This cluster contains four working groups each with a specific operational focus:


 Working Groups

Forestry Compliance and Enforcement Working GroupLogging

Chair: Margaret Eddington, NSW Environment Protection Authority

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Forestry Working Group Collaboration Page

The Australasian Forestry Compliance and Enforcement Working Group was formed as a timely opportunity to create a network of forestry regulators; collaborating, strengthening law enforcement effort, exchanging expertise and identifying emerging trends and threats.

This network can improve the efficiency of forest regulators in the delivery of government priorities through already enacted legislation. Multiple forestry regulation jurisdictions throughout Australia and New Zealand have expressed their strong desire in this timely initiative.

The Working Group also aims to share intelligence and undertake joint operations as required.

What’s the Need?

Illegal forestry practices and forest crime present a significant problem in many jurisdictions regionally, national and internationally. It degrades forest environments, reduces biodiversity, undermines government regimes and revenues, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and deprives local communities of opportunities to improve their quality of life. There are linkages of forest crime and serious crime, including organised crime, corruption, violence and extortion which can undermine local, regional and state stability.   

What will the Working Group deliver?

It is envisaged that a summary report will be finalised by the end of 2015 providing an overview of Australasian forestry, forestry regulation and forestry enforcement. It will also highlight jurisdictional synergies and differences, operational best practice, case studies and lessons learnt. Emerging trends, threats, risks and opportunities will also be explored amongst the Working Group. Forestry regulators then aim to actively implement practices that result from the working group.    

Getting in touch with the Working Group:

Margaret Edington, Assistant Director Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Agency), is steering the working group and invites comments, questions and feedback around the working group.

To get in touch email margie.eddington@agriculture.gov.au or call 02 62723195    

Active Participant Members:

  •  Australian Commonwealth Department of Agriculture

  • NSW Environment Protection Authority

  • NSW Department of Primary Industries

  • New Zealand - Ministry for Primary Industries

  • New Zealand- Department of Conservation

  • Victoria - Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning

  • Victoria Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Agriculture, Energy and Resources)

  • Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife

  • Forest and Ecosystem Management Division  

Affiliate Members (informed as working group progresses):

  • South Australia Department of Primary Industries

  • Tasmania Forest Practices Authority

  • Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

  • NSW Office of Environment and Heritage


Intelligence & Analysis Community of Practice Market research companies toronto2

Chair: Kieran Lynch, NSW Environment Protection Authority

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Intelligence & Analysis CoP Collaboration Page

This is a newly formed Working Group, if you are involved in Intelligence within your organisation you may benefit by joining the group and building the Intelligence network across Australia.


Water Compliance Community of Practice Water droplets

Chair: Kate Gole, Murray–Darling Basin Authority

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Water Compliance CoP Collaboration Page

The purpose of the group is to share information on cross-cutting issues, solve problems, and promote best practice in water compliance policy and operations across different jurisdictions in a collaborative way, while building capability within the AELERT network.


Environmental Liabilities Community of Practice 

Chair: Joanne Stuart, NSW Environment Protection Authority

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Environmental Liabilities CoP Collaboration Page

The Environmental Liabilities Community of Practice was re-established in 2019. The group seeks to share information on how environmental liabilities are currently managed across jurisdictions and, where possible, explore opportunities for inter-jurisdictional collaboration and national approaches to environmental liabilities. Discussions are largely focused on the use of financial assurances and environmental insurance to manage environmental liabilities.

The first meeting was held on 26 February 2019 and meetings are held every two months. All jurisdictions are represented, including non-EPA agencies (or their equivalents) such as the Queensland Treasury Corporation; the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment; and the SA Department of Energy and Mining.

What are environmental liabilities?

Environmental liabilities are the real or potential costs and expenses related to damage or potential damage to the environment. They can be either known or unknown.

  • Known environmental liabilities are the costs or estimated costs of identifiable environmental risk. For example: the costs to remediate or rehabilitate contaminated or disturbed land from historical or recent activities of a company. As the extent of the environmental risk and the actions needed to manage the risk can be sufficiently identified and scoped, the costs of managing known environmental liabilities can be estimated. Financial assurances or security deposits are the financial instruments used to secure funding to cover the costs of actions required under a statutory licence, permit or order.
  • Unknown environmental liabilities are the costs of environmental damage from accidental or unforeseen events. For example from fire or equipment failure leading to unexpected release of contaminants. The potential costs to manage these unknown environmental liabilities are difficult to calculate and cannot be sufficiently identified and scoped until after the incident has happened. Generally these types of liabilities are managed by environmental insurance.