The Royal Zoological Society of NSW forum on the value of protected areas for fauna conservation, held in Sydney in November 2014, comprised a series of papers interlaced with a series of plenary discussions, which can be read in full in this theme edition of Australian Zoologist. The forum was a parallel event to the IUCN World Parks Congress on protected areas, also held in Sydney in the week following the forum. One outcome of the IUCN Congress was the inspirational statement entitled ‘Promise of Sydney’, which included a call to invest “in nature's solutions, supported by public policy, incentives, tools and safeguards that help to halt biodiversity loss, mitigate and respond to climate change, reduce the risk and impact of disasters, improve food and water security, and promote human health and dignity”. The papers and plenary discussions in this RZS NSW forum all foreshadowed this vision as it applies to protected areas. Our focus in this theme edition of Australian Zoologist is on conserving fauna in Australia, and in protected areas in particular. Our concern is not so much whether we are on the right track as a society in establishing and managing protected areas, but that we are going too slowly, much too slowly, if our aim is to ensure the survival of our fauna.