What are permits and regulations?

Regulations are legislative controls which provide the land manager with powers to allow or prohibit certain activities. Regulations in most states and territories enable land managers to define whether camping should be permitted in parks, forests or reserves. These regulations often stipulate conditions designed to protect human health (e.g. toilets 100 m from water bodies and rivers) or the conservation of the environment (e.g. no camping within 30 m of a stream). Acts of parliament in all jurisdictions affecting the management of land (e.g. national parks act, forests act) all have regulations attached to them that outline the powers and responsibilities of land managers in permitting or restricting use.

When management plans are prepared for parks, forests or reserves, these regulations are further clarified for that particular area of land. It is not unusual therefore for different activities to be allowed in different zones within a park or forest, or on different types of land. Local conditions relevant to activities in that particular environment are also indicated in such plans.

Almost all land used for recreation in Australia is managed by states or territories (which have set up their own land management acts). Regulations affecting outdoor recreation activities are therefore different in each, and the separate land management authorities in each state or territory has its own interpretation of its regulations.

Permits are the means by which land managers enable specific uses to occur and set the conditions under which those uses will be allowed. Most people would be familiar with camping permits required to stay in high use campgrounds during peak holiday periods. These permits usually specify the length of stay and other conditions (noise, pets) allowed as part of this ‘permission’. As well as permits for recreation activities, licences, leases or permits may also be issued for activities such as grazing, short term events, and support services (kiosks, etc).