We explore the 23 exciting environmental initiatives and opportunities in South Australia for 2023.
Nilpena Ediacara National Park – the next chapter
It is a story more than half a billion years old.
But the latest chapter in the tale of the Ediacaran fossils in South Australia’s remote Outback will be unveiled in the first half of 2023.
Visitors will be able to see the fossils come to life in a way they could never have imagined.
The mighty River Murray
For much of the year the focus will be on recovery after the River Murray swelled to levels not seen for almost 70 years.
But, in time, the environmental benefits of the water flows will be fully realised.
The rare event will boost precious ecosystems and provide benefits for animals, plants and fish from the border to the Murray Mouth.
Giving the Torrens Outlet a face lift
The artificial channel that runs from Tapleys Hill Road to the Torrens Outlet at West Beach is being transformed into a natural flowing and healthy river system.
An overhaul of this section will help create a nature area that serves as both a recreational spot and a habitat for native birds, threatened fish and other animals.
Paving the pathway to net zero for South Australia
Several climate conferences in Adelaide this year will play a key role in paving the pathway to net zero emissions for South Australia.
The first, in April, will bring together government and industry to discuss the best next steps. This will be complemented by a climate adaptation conference in July that will highlight ways we can adapt to our changing climate.
Each of these elements will help to formulate legislation to enshrine the state's commitment to net zero emissions.
Establishing SA’s Biodiversity Coordination Unit
The Department for Environment and Water is establishing a new Biodiversity Coordination Unit.
It will strengthen the way government works with university researchers to manage the environmental effects of pests, weeds and abundant species.
The community will also be invited to have their say on developing the new Biodiversity Act.
First Nations rangers
The first of 15 new First Nations rangers will be out working across the state in 2023.
New First Nations rangers will be based in regions from Kangaroo Island to the Outback and from the Far West to the Fleurieu.
Showing off Adelaide’s parks and nature
After securing the title of National Park City – only the second in the world and the first in the southern hemisphere – Adelaide will host the joint World Urban Parks and Parks and Leisure Conference.
The joint international congress theme ‘Sustainable Places, Spaces, People and Habitats’ will give Adelaide a moment to shine to visitors from all over the world.
Keeping koalas happy
Koalas at Cleland Wildlife Park will benefit from a new state-of-the-art home.
It will ensure they continue to be happy and healthy for the thousands of visitors that come to see them each year.
Kids playing in nature
South Australia boasts thousands of great places for kids to play in the great outdoors.
That list will get longer with a new nature play space opening at Glenthorne National Park-Ityamaiitpinna Yarta.
The opening follows a three-fold expansion of the car park at the Mukanthi Nature Play Space at Morialta – one of Adelaide’s most popular spots for kids.
The push for World Heritage
The bid for parts of the Flinders Ranges to join global icons such as Yosemite National Park and the Galapagos Islands as a World Heritage site will continue to grow in 2023.
The fossil-rich Flinders Ranges has already been given tentative listing by UNESCO after a nomination endorsed by the area’s Traditional Owners, the Adnyamathanha people.
To understand the region’s importance people can enjoy the Brachina Geological Trail, which passes through a gorge that is an important refuge for the yellow footed rock wallaby, as well as many species of birds and reptiles.
Reviewing how to keep Adelaide’s beaches beautiful
The community and the environment will be at the core of a scientific review into how to manage Adelaide’s beaches.
In 2023, interested community members will be invited to have their say as part of the important journey to find sustainable solutions to coastal erosion along Adelaide's metropolitan beaches.
Getting involved in citizen science
South Australia’s first ever statewide environmental Citizen Science Strategy is being developed.
That means environmental enthusiasts will have even more opportunities to get involved in helping to save the planet and improve biodiversity.
Citizen scientists can be school children, university students, retirees – anyone keen to contribute to the greater understanding of our natural world.
Helping landowners protect biodiversity
There will be new heritage agreements and grants for on-ground works in 2023 – all to support improved biodiversity outcomes.
It is part of the plan to make sure heritage agreements are structured in away that best facilitates conservation outcomes and enable landholders to generate income from biodiversity and carbon farming.
Report cards for the environment
The state of South Australia's environment and how it is trending overtime, will be outlined in new trend and condition report cards.
The report cards consider key environmental assets, such as water resources, native vegetation and soil.
They provide the perfect starting point for conversations about what is precious and how we protect it.
Protecting Aboriginal art
Located in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, the Akurra Adnya (Arkaroo Rock) shelter features Adnyamathanha rock paintings with ochre and charcoal images that tell the creation story of Wilpena Pound.
An archaeological excavation in the late 1980s uncovered fireplaces, debris from toolmaking and fragments of pigment that show Aboriginal people first camped in the shelter of Arkaroo Rock more than 6,000years ago.
This year greater protections for the site and an improved visitor experience will be unveiled.
Walking and riding on the wild side
The Epic Mountain Bike Trail – a 42 km mountain bike trail weaving through Mount Remarkable National Park in the Southern Flinders Ranges – will open to the public later this year.
The Wild South Coast Way on the Heysen Trail will also officially open in 2023, offering an exciting, active adventure for walkers of all fitness levels.
The new trail network will allow people to choose their own adventure, walking from a few hours a day to a 5-day, 4-night walking experience.
Rebuilding Kangaroo Island
Two state heritage-listed cottages have risen from the ashes of the Kangaroo Island bushfires to become the newest and highest standard accommodation offered by National Parks and Wildlife Service.
May’s Homestead and Postman’s Cottage, in the heart of Flinders Chase National Park, offer an improved visitor experience.
And Kelly Hill Conservation Park, including guided tours of Kelly Hills Caves, is expected to reopen to the public in the first half of the year.
Bringing water management online with mywater
South Australia’s new 24/7 online water management system and customer portal, mywater, will go-live in 2023.
Developed with input from stakeholders, mywater features a customer-focused online water licensing portal, an up-to-date and easily accessible State Water Register, the flexibility to trade water allocations when customers require and reduced trading times thanks to automation and faster processing.
The timely information and data in mywater will help inform critical decisions about water and plan for issues such as extreme droughts and changes to policy and regulations.
The Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin program moves into the next phase and builds on the unprecedented investment so far to improve the ecology, knowledge and management of the Coorong.
Vast amounts of water flowing from the River Murray flood into the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth will provide a much-needed short-term boost to the Ramsar-listed wetland. Many plants, fish and birds are thriving for the first time since the Millennium drought.
Basin Plan projects working
As flood waters recede and floodplains return to normal levels, regulating infrastructure at Chowilla, Pike and Katarapko floodplains, constructed under the Basin Plan, will help to support plants and animals, reinvigorated by environmental watering and flood inundation over recent years.
Great nature photography
The incredible international Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will return to Adelaide Botanic Garden again in 2023.
The exhibition will be artfully displayed in the Bicentennial Conservatory. In 2022, about 10,000 visitors marvelled at the amazing and moving images of the natural world.
With the added intrigue of seeing the exhibition surrounded by the conservatory’s plant life, this year’s season is set to thrill and delight.
From little things, big things grow
In January 2023, the Seed Conservation Centre team will head to the remote Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary to follow up on numerous priority species in this opportune year.
It’s been many years since fields of Koonamore daisies and swainson peas have been seen across the floodplains east of the Flinders Ranges. The team will collect available seeds and specimens from those fields and from plant species not seen at Arkaroola before.
Protecting Heritage for the Future
The ‘Protecting Heritage for the Future’ initiative will better protect and conserve heritage places.
It aims to modernise the Heritage Places Act 1993, provide improved heritage place information to the public, support owners of State Heritage Places with grants and increase the number of places that can be considered for protection.
The initiative also plans to increase support to the South Australian Heritage Council for programs and initiatives, such as First Nation engagement in describing our heritage place history, public events and historical surveys. The initiative will be funded by $10 million over a decade.