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Activity teacher notes 3.8

3.8 Measuring up protected areas

Levels: P, S, SS
Focus curriculum areas: Mathematics/numeracy
Supporting curriculum area: Society and history
Key concepts: Protected areas, comparisons

shells and coral

Understanding goals

Students compare and contrast areas of reserved land and water in different states of Australia and calculate these areas.


1. a) List five reasons why we protect land.

b) What does a larger protected area allow for?

2. Think of a marine reserve as an underwater national park. List additional reasons why marine reserves are important for sustainable use of the sea. (see Background Note 3f - Marine reserves)

3. Using the table below, or this PDF [184 KB], calculate the total area for each state using the percentages. Compare the size of Tasmanian protected areas to other states/territories of Australia.

State Area protected in Parks and Reserves Total area Protected area by % of state land or waters
Tas land (terrestrial) 2 770 699 ha   40.7%
Tas marine – 2003 76 670 ha   0.4%
Tas with new Kent Group/Port Davey MPAs 123 308 ha   0.7%
Victoria (terrestrial) 3 600 000 ha   16%
Victoria marine 54 000 ha   5.3%
ACT (terrestrial) 128 212 ha   0.7%
NSW (terrestrial) 5 957 200 ha   7.4%
NSW marine 163 000 ha   16%
NT (terrestrial) 5 043 400 ha   3.7%
NT marine 223 900 ha    
QLD (terrestrial) 7 120 217 ha   4.1%
QLD marine      
SA (terrestrial) 25 243 900   25.7%
SA marine 289 482 ha   4.8%
WA 27 168 847 ha   10.8%
WA marine 12 633 297 ha   9.7%

4. Rank the states/territories from 1–8, with 1 being the state with the largest total protected area.

5. Which state has the most reserved land? Which state has the least reserved land?

6. Which state has the largest area under marine protection?

7. Which state has the least area of marine protection?

8. What conclusions can you make after looking at these numbers?

9. Discuss whether you believe that Tasmania needs a larger area of protected land or sea for the future.

Going further

See our links to national parks agencies around Australia.