ACT State of the Environment 2007

Indicator: Land use


The overall pattern of land use in the ACT changed little during the reporting period. The main land uses continue to be conservation, water supply, agriculture (mainly livestock production), urban settlement, and timber production.

The trend towards greater areas of land for conservation and urban uses, with a corresponding loss of agricultural lands, has continued. There has also been a trend towards increasing the intensity of urban land use in inner city areas, with a centralisation of infrastructure and services.

What the results tell us about the ACT

The dominant land use in the ACT is conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem processes – some 54% of the total area of the ACT is protected in nature reserves (22,912 hectares) and Namadgi National Park (105,845 hectares). Some of this (44,200 hectares) is also protected for water supply purposes.

Of the remaining land in the ACT, 50,680 hectares (21%) is used for agriculture, almost all of which is dryland sheep grazing.

Pine plantations cover another 7.6% of the ACT, although only 6851 hectares is currently used for timber production as a result of the 2003 bushfire. The government has not yet decided the future of the remaining 10,000 hectares.

These three land uses combined account for more than 80% of the ACT, contributing to the Territory's status as the bush capital of Australia (Table 1).

The urban area covers only 27,952 hectares (13%) of the ACT. Of that, most is built on for housing, offices, schools, shops, and other commercial and community buildings. About 6000 hectares is some type of open space – either zoned as Urban Open Space in the Territory Plan, or land that has been designated for another use but has not yet been built on. Roads and adjacent easements, or other transport infrastructure such as the airport, cover about 4400 hectares.

Figures on actual land use continue to be refined as measuring techniques improve.

Table 1: Major land use types in the ACT, 1995 to 2003
Land use type Area of land (hectares)
1995a 1997 2000 2003 2007
Conservation 123,972 127,092 127,198 127,917 128,757
National parks 105,845 105,845 105,845 105,845
Nature reserves 21,247 21,353 22,072 22,912
Forestry lands (associated lands)b 22,640 22,640 22,640 21,645 21,645
Plantation forestry (post-2003 bushfire) 6,851 6,851
Former plantation (future use uncertain) 10,507 10,507
Other forestry land and forest reserves 4,287 4,287
Agriculture nd 53,055 52,795 51,587 50,680
Grazing 51,468 51,208 49,968 49,053
Cropping 266 266 266 266
Horticulture 125 125 159 167
Horse paddocks 1,196 1,196 1,194 1,194
Urban 26,959 27,140 27,361 27,861 27,952
Built area 16,547 17,151 17,558 17,930
Open space (zoned and other) 6,231 5,848 5,941 5,597
Transport (roads, airport, railway) 4,362 4,362 4,362 4,425
Water bodies 1,768 1,768 1,768 1,772 1,772
Other nd 4,661 4,661 4,661 4,661

Note: Totals do not add up to the total area for the ACT because of overlaps, such as for water bodies and other uses
a 1995 figures are estimates that show only indicative trends
b Forestry data from ACT Forests and includes roads, rocky outcrops and other areas unsuited to forestry
nd = no data
Source: ACT Government

What has changed?

The overall pattern of land use changed little during the reporting period. The urban area continued to expand into grazing lands, and some new areas have been added to the nature reserve system. Large areas of pine forests that were burned in the Christmas 2001 and the January 2003 bushfires have not been replanted with pines. The ACT Government decided to no longer use the Lower Cotter catchment as a commercial pine plantation in recognition of the importance of having a native ecological landscape to maximise protection of water quality and biodiversity values. Planned changes in the Lower Cotter catchment are underway; however, by the end of the reporting period the ACT Government had not formally approved the management plan outlining the future use of those areas.

Smaller rural settlements such as Pierce's Creek and Uriarra that were destroyed by the 2003 bushfire will not be rebuilt but community facilities, such as Birrigai, have been rebuilt.

The main change in land use is one of intensification within the urban area, accompanied by a centralisation of infrastructure and services. The Civic area and immediate surrounds have undergone substantial redevelopment in accordance with the Canberra Spatial Plan.

The Canberra International Airport precinct has grown significantly. Since 1998 the number of airport businesses has grown from 70 to 115 and the number of jobs has almost doubled from 1660 to 3100. This is in addition to the ongoing employment of 450 construction workers and the engagement of over 950 businesses to operate the airport. (Canberra International Airport website). This growth in jobs and businesses also means a growth in the footprint of the airport site as additional businesses, roads and the 600-metre extension to Runway 17/35 is built. The 2010 Draft Master Plan predicts up to 25,000 people to be directly employed at the airport by 2027 a three-fold expansion from current levels and would put the airport on a par with Civic's current employment level. There is a risk that such development could challenge the role of Civic and the town centres in Canberra's commercial and retail hierarchy in addition it would also increase the urban footprint in the area.

See Main land use categories below for a description of the various land use categories.

New nature reserves to protect biodiversity

Several new areas of land were formally added to Canberra Nature Park during the reporting period – namely Mount Mugga Mugga, Percival Hill, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Tuggeranong Hill and a small addition to Mount Majura and Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve. The 701 hectares of the Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve was the major addition. These additions are to be commended. The ecosystems that were affected by these changes are listed in the Ecological communities indicator.

There were some small losses with the extension of Gungahlin Drive (23 hectares), and some minor adjustments of boundaries. In all, these losses totalled less than 30 hectares.

Urban expansion continues

Urban settlements cover some 13% of the ACT (Table 2). As well as increasing the supply of land on the market, the government introduced changes to the First Home Buyers Concession Scheme from 1 July 2007, commenced its land sales program to Community Housing Canberra CHC and introduced legislative amendments to allow duty deferral for first home buyers for five years.

Continuation of the land release program has seen the built component of the urban area increase by around 373 hectares during 2003–07, mostly in Gungahlin and Dunlop, both in the Ginninderra Creek catchment in the north of the ACT. Some new urban areas have also been developed in Conder and Banks in the Murrumbidgee catchment in the south of the ACT. Most of this development was marked as 'Future urban' or 'Open space – zoned for other use' in the 2003 State of the Environment Report. The land is generally now used for residential purposes, with some supporting infrastructure such as roads and schools.

In total, the increase in built area was offset by some land on the urban fringe being incorporated into the ACT Nature Park, with 80 hectares added to Percival Hill Nature Reserve in Gungahlin and 51 hectares added to Mount Majura Nature Reserve. These areas had been previously classed as urban open space (buffers and ridges).

Table 2: Changes in urban land use in the ACT, 1997 to 2007
Urban land use 1997 2000 2003 2007
Commercial – shops and offices 766 839 854 880
Entertainment, accommodation and leisure 330 356 363 339
Industrial 586 646 679 686
Residential 10,829 11,188 11,525 11,870
Municipal services 592 592 592 595
Community facility 3,444 3,530 3,545 3,560
Education 1,272 1,275 1,265
    No current use at June 2007: closed schools 24
Recreation (playing fields, sports grounds) 973 973 959
    Restricted access recreation (enclosed ovals, golf clubs) 770 770 772
Care (aged and child) 135 135 144
Arts 134 134 136
    Religious 101 101 101
    Community groups and centres 94 95 98
    Health 54 54 54
    Other (vets) 8 8 8
Open space 6,231 5,848 5,941 5,597
    Zoned urban open space 3,184 3,210 3,232 3,642
    Ridges and buffers (no other use indicated)a 1,405 1,405 1,405 1,238
    Open space – zoned for other useb 1,507 1,186 1,087 876
    Future urban 135 47 216 94
Transport 4,362 4,362 4,425
    Roads nd 3,717 3,781
    Other (e.g. airport, railway) nd 644 644
Total urban area 27,361 27,861 27,952

Notes: a Hills, ridges and buffers and river corridors that are grazed or used for conservation are not included in the figures in the urban area
b See also 'Other land use categories' below.
Source: ACT Government

Housing demand drives development

The drive for continued development for residential purposes comes as much from population growth as from a trend towards fewer people living in houses that are ever larger, although block size can often be smaller. The size of houses and block sizes in newer areas, such as Gungahlin and Dunlop, illustrates this point, as does the conversion of single to multiple occupancy dwellings in existing residential areas.

Other factors, such as interest rates, investment markets and government policy can also affect the rate of new housing constructions, and house prices, in any given period of time.

The influence of occupancy rates (the average number of people living in a dwelling) on the demand for new dwellings is significant. Although Canberra's population has doubled in 30 years (1971 to 2001), the number of dwellings has tripled (Table 3). The occupancy rate declined from 3.7 people per dwelling in 1971 to 2.71 by 2001, with the decline continuing through to 2006 (Table 3). In the latter year, the occupancy rate of separate dwellings was 2.8, for terrace and row houses 1.9, and for flats 1.6 (see also Population indicator).

Table 3: Impacts of changes in Canberra's dwelling occupancy rates
Year Occupancy rate Population No. of dwellings
1971 3.70 146,000 39,459
2001 2.71 310,839 114,841
2006 2.67 327,901 126,267

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007, 2006 Census data,

The number of new dwellings actually started in the ACT each year in relation to population and median house prices since 1993 is shown in Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1: New dwelling commencements in the ACT and median house prices, 1993 to 2007

Graph of new dwelling commencements in the ACT and median house prices, 1993 to 2007

Source Australian Bureau of Statistics, Dwelling unit commencements, Australia, cat. no. 8750.0; Real Estate Institute of Australia

Figure 2: New dwelling commencements in the ACT and population, 1993 to 2007

Graph of dwelling commencements in the ACT and population, 1993 to 2007

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Dwelling unit commencements, Australia, cat. no. 8750.0; Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census

Greenfields and infill development

Many, but not all, of these new dwellings were in new suburbs. This is clearly shown in Figure 3, with the area of newly developed urban land in each state of the environment reporting period not quite keeping pace with the commencement of new dwellings. The difference can be attributed to the increased rate of infill and redevelopment in existing suburbs. This rate increased during the reporting period.

Figure 3: Comparison of the rate of new development and new commencements in the ACT, 1994 to 2006

Graph of the rate of new development and new commencements in the ACT, 1994 to 2006

Source: Calculated from Australian Bureau of Statistics, Dwelling unit commencements, Australia, cat. no 8750.0, and other state of the environment reporting data

The debate about the relative merits of infill compared with greenfields development is an ongoing one that the ACT community has not yet adequately resolved.

The Canberra Spatial Plan sought to resolve this debate by concentrating development in areas within 7.5 kilometres of Civic in the 15 years after 2004 (when the Canberra Spatial Plan was finalised). The extensive redevelopment in that area suggests that this policy has been, at least to some extent, realised. The success or otherwise of this concentrated development policy should be debated in light of the proposed development of the Molonglo Valley being brought forward from being a proposal for medium-term urban expansion (Canberra Spatial Plan) to a plan for urban expansion in the short-term (ACTPLA website).

A consequence of this strategy is intensification within the urban area, accompanied by a centralisation of infrastructure and services. It is one consequence of the explicit departure from the neighbourhood basis of planning with the 2004 adoption of the Canberra Spatial Plan. While this has brought increased residential use into the Civic area and an increased focus in regional centres, other than government office use (employment) in Gungahlin, it has also been accompanied by a change of services, such as bus services and libraries, in outlying neighbourhoods. This represents a major trigger for land use change with its social and environmental consequences in future years; the impacts of this change should be monitored in future state of the environment reports.

There has also been substantially more redevelopment in other established areas than in previous reporting periods; a good deal of the redevelopment has been dual occupancy dwellings (Table 4, Figure 4). While parts of this area is marked for 'residential intensification' in the Canberra Spatial Plan (ACTPLA 2004:4), much is also outside that area. Construction of dual occupancy developments in new suburbs in Gungahlin has increased (Figure 5). (skip to next section)

Table 4: Number of new multiple-unit dwellings in the ACT
Period Number of units in each development
2 3 4 >5 Total
1997–2000 103 7 14 113 237
2000–03 263 12 18 115 408
2003–07 369 14 11 96 490

Note: >5 category includes developments of 5 units to more than 200 units
Source: ACTPLA tenure data as supplied in August 2007

While the number of building commencements is driven by intrinsic demand, market conditions, such as interest rates, also have some influence (see also the Economy indicator ).

Figure 4: Number of multi-unit developments in the ACT, 1997 to 2007

Three graphs of the number of multi-unit developments in the ACT, 1997 to 2007

Source: Real Estate Institute of Australia

Figure 5: Multi-unit development (including dual occupancy) in the ACT, as at 2007

Map of multi-unit development (including dual occupancy) in the ACT, as at 2007

Source: ACT Government

Urban density

Urban density has mirrored housing development. Population density is influenced by factors such as housing density, the number of people living in a dwelling, and the amount of non-residential land in a suburb, for example, parks, factories, airports and sporting facilities. In 2006, Canberra–Queanbeyan population density was 1005 people/km2 (10.05 people/ha) up from 900 people/km2 (9 people/ha) in 2001. While this intensification is welcomed and is significant for Canberra it needs to be seen in context; compare this with the highest density in East Sydney at 8100 people/km2 or 81 people/ha (Gargett and Gafney 2007).

The newer, outer suburbs have seen the highest population growth. The more densely populated suburbs include Gungahlin, Palmerston, Ngunnawal and Amaroo in the Gungahlin area and Banks and Gordon in Tuggeranong. Most of this density is due to a high proportion of families with children and dwellings being purchased (Gargett and Gafney 2007).

In the inner city area, Turner had population growth of around 11% (between 2001 and 2006) (ACT 2007b).  Barton and Kingston, in inner South also experienced high population growth. Most of this increase is due to an increase in medium- and high-density housing and a high proportion of people living alone (Gargett and Gafney 2007).

High population densities were also evident in the older parts of Queanbeyan (Gargett and Gafney 2007).

Specific to the ACT, estimates calculated from ACT Planning and Land Authority data and Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics illustrate urban densities in the ACT were falling to 2003, but since then have increased to 12.1 people per ha (Table 5). Furthermore, the data suggest a reduction in open space per person and road area. These reductions are indicators of increased intensity of land use activities.

Table 5: Urban density estimates for the ACT (area measured in hectares), 1997 to 2007
Area 1997 2000 2003 2007
Urban area 27,140 27,361 27,861 27,952
Built area 16,547 17,151 17,558 17,930
Open space (zoned and other open space) 6,231 5,848 5,941 5,597
Transport (roads, airport, railway) 4,362 4,362 4,362 4,425
Built up area density (person/Ha) 18.7 18.8 18.4 18.9
Total urban area (person/Ha) 11.4 11.4 11.6 12.1
Open space (per m2/person) 202 188 184 165
Transport use (per m2/capita) 141 140 135 130

Note: differences in quoted estimates reflect different methods of land classification
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007, 2006 Census data; ACT Planning and Land Authority.

Valuing our open space

The extensive open space network, totalling some 5597 hectares in 2007, still lends force to Canberra's raison d'ĂȘtre as 'the bush capital', particularly when the other, non-urban land uses such as conservation and grazing, are taken into account. The area of open space has decreased during the reporting period through increased intensity of land use activities (Table 5). Much of this is due to development on lands already earmarked for future development.

As with previous reports, urban open space has been identified in terms of its status on the Territory Plan. Land identified as 'urban open space' in the Territory Plan has a formal status and can be changed only with a formal variation to the Plan following approval by the Legislative Assembly. Called 'zoned urban open space' in Table 2, this area has increased substantially following the Open Space Network review in 2004.

Much open space in urban areas is not included in the 'Urban open space' category in the Territory Plan. Identified as 'Open space – zoned for other use' in Table 2, these areas include land that has not been built on in more established suburbs and that locals consider to be part of the open space network. Many people were not aware that these areas are often shown in the Plan as being reserved for some other use, typically residential, community facility or commercial land uses. The Open Space Network project attempted to resolve this potential source of conflict by identifying areas that could eventually be developed and those that would be retained as formal urban open space under the Territory Plan. The relevant variation was implemented in 2006, and signs have been erected on most sites to indicate possible future development. This initiative should lessen the community's opposition to developing such sites.

The area reported in Table 2 as 'Open space – zoned for other use' changed during the  reporting period; most of it is accounted for by further development of residential areas in Gungahlin and southern Tuggeranong.

Community facilities

During the reporting period 13 schools closed at the end of 2006. These were designated as community facilities. Community organisations based in Melrose and Rivett primary schools continued to operate. Demolition of two schools – Mount Neighbour primary and Rivett primary – was announced in May 2007. The land use on sites occupied by closed schools was not finalised by the end of the reporting period and so will be reported in the 2011 State of the Environment Report.

Transport infrastructure

Transport infrastructure covers 4425 hectares of the Territory, with much of the increase in area accounted for by major roads into newer suburbs. Parking lots cover some 160 hectares, a total that has not changed significantly outside of Civic during the reporting period.

At this stage it is not possible to separately identify the area of roads in each of the land uses. The residential area, for example, includes the area of roads and community paths. As stated in the previous reports, in future we hope to be able to separately identify the area used for transport infrastructure.

Agriculture loses

The area of land used for agricultural production has continued a steady decline. This reporting period saw a nett loss of 907 hectares from grazing areas, leaving 50,680 hectares of agricultural land in 2007 (Table 1). Some 710 hectares of this arises from the declaration of new conservation areas. The remainder was lost mainly to urban encroachment (Figure 3).

Although only 38,000 hectares (16%) of the ACT is held under rural lease, according to ACT Government staff other areas are grazed, and these areas were included in the total for agriculture. The area of land used for horticultural purposes (olives and grapes) did not significantly increase during the reporting period, apart from the expansion of one small grove (see Main land use categories for more detail).

Although the areas involved are small, the resulting crops are high value compared with meat and wool production on a per hectare basis. They also have a higher local environmental impact because of the increased land use intensity, with (typically) an increase in the amounts of fertilisers and other farm chemicals, and the introduction of irrigation.

The overall amount of agricultural production in the ACT is far too small to support the fresh food and fibre needs of the more than 300,000 people who live in the Territory.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data (Table 5) indicate that the gross value of agricultural production in the ACT for 2004–05 was $17.3 million, a significant decline from previous years. This has been attributed to a decline in the value of wool production as a result of the ongoing drought. The change in the value of crop production is also attributed to the drought, with the value of nursery production varying with the availability of water for domestic gardens.

Table 5: Value of agricultural production in the ACT, 2001–02 to 2004–05
Agricultural product Approx. value ($m)
2000–01 2002–03 2003–04 2004–05
Livestock products (wool and eggs) 12.4 9.9 9.6 8.6
Livestock slaughterings and other disposals (cattle and sheep, some poultry) 4.6 5.7 5.1 4.7
Crops (fruit, grapes, nursery production and hay) 2.6 3.4 4.6 4.0
Total 19.6 19.0 19.3 17.3

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia, 2004–05, cat. no. 7503.0

Forest plantations areas remain

As for previous state of the environment reports, Territory and Municipal Services has clarified that only 16,579 hectares were actually used for softwood production. Within the forestry estate, a further 1243 hectares are roads, rocky outcrops and other features that render the land 'unplantable'. On the basis that roads have not been separated out from figures for other land uses, the 1243 hectares have been included as part of the timber production figures. (See Main land use categories for more detail about timber production figures.)

Some 10,385 hectares, almost two-thirds of the ACT forest estate, was burned during the reporting period either in the Christmas 2001 bushfire or in the January 2003 bushfire. The burned areas were replanted quickly after the 2001 bushfire, but at the end of the reporting period, the ACT Government was still considering whether or not to replant all of the areas burned in the 2003 bushfire. Some pre-fire forestry lands are being used for new purposes, notably the Stromolo Forest Park recreation site, which includes world-class mountain bike facilities

The consequences of these changes are reported in the Land degradation indicator.

Table 6: Changes to ACT pine plantations since 2003 bushfire
Areaa Planted pre-2003 (ha) Currently planted (ha) b Area in LCC
Kowen 4,671 4,656 0
Uriarra and Pierces 8,767 1,793 1,200 planted to pine LCC approx 1,265 ha planted since 2003, approx 65 ha removed in late 2007, balance approx 1,200 ha
Miowera 175 30 0
Ingledene 485 0 0
Majura 93 93 0
Tuggeranong Pines 32 32 0
Block 60 Jedbinbilla 229 0 0 Not to be replanted
Gibraltar/Corin 495 1 0 Not to be replanted
Fairbairn 246 246 0 Resumed by ADF – no longer managed by PCL
Stromlo 2,165 na 0 Some replanted but all non-commercial (residential, arboretum, Stromlo Forest Park)
Totals 17,358 6,851

Notes: a Plantation area excluding native vegetation areas managed by the former ACT Forests
b Includes areas that survived 2003 bushfire AND areas planted since 2003
LCC = Lower Cotter catchment; ADF = Australian Defence Force; PCL = Parks, Conservation Lands
Source: Parks, Conservation and Lands, Department of Territory and Municipal Services

Data sources and references

As in the 2000 State of the Environment Report, the Commissioner's Office has tried to report actual land use in the ACT, as opposed to planned land use. The Territory Plan, the main vehicle for land use planning on ACT Government-managed lands in the Territory, was used as a basis with supplementary information sourced from tenure and lease data, from aerial photography for 2001 and local knowledge provided by ACT Government officers. Land use information for National Lands, which are managed by the National Capital Authority, was sourced from the National Capital Plan.

Over the last four state of the environment reports, four broad land uses – conservation, agriculture, forestry and urban – have been reported. Progressively we have also been able to break down 'urban' use to show 'residential', 'commercial', 'industrial' and 'green space'.

In this report we built upon the treatment of rural lands – classified as variously 'rural' and 'broadacre' in the Territory Plan. Broadacre land, which can be used for a variety of purposes, (ACTPLA 2002) typically on the periphery of the urban areas. In 2000 it was reported as 'urban', 'agriculture' or 'future urban', paying more attention to actual use. In this report, the category of 'future urban' has been refined to more closely reflect actual use. See Main land use categories below.


Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia, 2004–05, cat. no. 7503.0, available at <>

Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Bureau of Statistics, Dwelling Unit Commencements, cat. no. 8750.0, available at <>

Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007, 2006 Census data, available at <>

Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007b, Australian Capital Territory in Focus 2006, cat. no. 1307.8, available at>

ACTPLA ACT Planning and Land Authority 2004, The Canberra Spatial Plan, ACT Government, available at <>

ACTPLA ACT Planning and Land Authority 2002 The Territory Plan, available at <>

ACTPLA website at <>).

Canberra International Airport website at <>

Gargett D and Gafney J 2007, Traffic growth in Australian cities: causes, prevention and cure, Department of Transport and Regional Services, Canberra available at <>

Main land use categories


Includes all land identified with the help of ACT Government staff as being covered by a rural lease. Land was identified, based on local knowledge, as being used for grazing, horticulture, or cropping. Grazing lands included areas that are 'casually' grazed for management purposes. This includes some areas identified in the 2000 State of the Environment Report as 'future urban', as they were occasionally grazed. Large areas of unleased land in new suburbs that clearly had not had any construction activity at the end of the reporting period are also assumed to have been grazed under agistment. Areas grazed occasionally as a management strategy are not classed as rural but as conservation.


Includes all land identified as meeting the criteria for listing in the National Reserve System. Most of the area marked as 'hills, ridges and buffers' on the National Capital Plan has been incorporated into the Territory's Canberra Nature Park for conservation purposes. While the Canberra Nature Park performs a very important role as urban green space, the thousands of hectares of Canberra Nature Park that are in and around the city are included in the figures on conservation.

Open space

Includes the 'open space' category of the National Capital Plan, particularly Commonwealth Park around Lake Burley Griffin and Weston Park, Yarralumla, and the Territory Plan category 'urban open space' which is described in more detail in the Territory Plan website. These areas are classified as 'zoned urban open space' in this report.

Timber production

Figures have been provided by TAMS. This is not to be confused with the total 24,570 hectares managed by TAMS. That total includes some conservation areas (504 hectares of the Molonglo Gorge Nature Reserve) and a further 5826 hectares that for various reasons cannot be planted. Some of those 5826 hectares are effectively conservation areas, but are not managed specifically for conservation. When an alternative use is known, it has been classified as that for the purpose of this report.


Includes all commercial and industrial land on the Territory Plan, and residential land where building and/or development have commenced. As in 2000, this category also includes broadacre land that was reported as 'agriculture' in the 1997 State of the Environment Report but is reported this time as 'urban', specifically, Exhibition Park, the Racecourse, the Cemetery and Crematorium, and Quarterhorse racetrack (71 hectares) at Gungahlin, and the airport (684 hectares). We considered that these activities were more closely and causally associated with urban functions than with agricultural ones.

Other land use categories

Community facilities

The figure for 'community facilities' is taken from the Territory Plan, and includes facilities such as schools whether they were being used as schools at the end of the reporting period, or not. Community facilities data from the ACT Planning and Land Authority also provided specific data about the actual use and helped identify schools and other facilities.

Future urban

In this report land classed as 'future urban' are those areas within new suburbs that the community would fully expect to be developed. There was no grazing lease and no known agistment lease, and ACT Government staff were not aware of any licensed grazing. This differs from the 2000 State of the Environment Report in which land in a new suburb was allocated its use according to the Territory Plan as soon as development started anywhere in the suburb. This resolved the problem of including some hectares as residential which, correctly speaking, were still future urban. From an environmental viewpoint, it allowed a better estimate of the amount of urban encroachment in each reporting period.

Open space – zoned for other use

This category also includes parcels of land that have not been developed. In other words, the green areas are, as much as possible, how the land is currently being used and not necessarily its intended use. These areas are classed as 'open space – zoned for other use' in this report. The reason is that communities have often come to consider these areas as part of their local open space, and development represents a real change in land use. In newer areas, such as Gungahlin, this category is used for undeveloped land in sections in which construction activity had begun; they were otherwise assumed to be grazed under agistment leases (see also Agriculture above).


This category includes quarries, the arboretum, CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology, Commonwealth Department of Defence use (3953 hectares), 450 hectares of mountains and bushland between Namadgi National Park and ACT pine plantations, and some river corridors with no identified use. Unlike previous state of the environment reports, some major areas of broadacre land, such as the Majura Field Firing Range, were not incorporated into the rural category; they fall into this category.

Water bodies

This category includes Lake Burley Griffin, Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong and the river systems in the ACT, but excludes water that is classified as 'river corridors' or 'conservation' areas in the Territory Plan. As indicated in the 2000 State of the Environment Report, areas of these water bodies have been removed from the conservation figures to place the area in what will be the larger, and more logical, category of 'water bodies'. However, smaller water bodies, such as farm dams, are still included in rural land use.

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