Native Vegetation Removal Regulations

By on April 9, 2018

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of CMPA, reports on the Native Vegetation Removal Regulations.

One of CMPA’s Purposes is to demonstrate its commitment to the protection of the environment. The CMPA also supports responsible, balanced legislation and community engagement that is in the best interest of the State.

The Native Vegetation Clearing Regulations were reviewed in 2017 and the revised regulations released 12 December 2017 and are now called Native Vegetation Removal Regulations. According to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the amended regulations are being introduced in order to be fairer and to better protect sensitive native vegetation. This will be done by:

  • Better accounting for the environmental value of large trees, endangered vegetation types and sensitive wetlands and coastal areas
  • Making the system fairer by allowing some site based information to supplement mapped information, and ensuring the information used in the regulations better accounts for vegetation on the ground
  • Improving transparency about native vegetation removal and offsets, and ensuring the rules are being complied with, and
  • Additional offsetting options, including using scattered trees as offsets and being able to bank offsets to use in the future. These changes acknowledge landowners’ efforts in managing native vegetation on their own properties.

The table below is a high-level summary of the key changes to the native vegetation removal regulations, as a result of a recent review. The table provides a comparison of the previous and new systems with CMPA comments in the third column. Documents and resources to support implementation of the changes are available on the DELWP website: www.environment.vic.gov.au/native-vegetation/native-vegetation

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Views of a Consultant

There is now a stronger emphasis by DELWP on the avoidance of native vegetation removal through the use of enforcement as opposed to through the use of encouragement for people to keep native vegetation.

For removal of native vegetation <0.5 hectare a consultant is needed which was not required previously.

Overnight, the possible presence of a threatened species was removed with a different threatened species being added. The process relies heavily on modeled vegetation data, though there is the potential to use site specific data (at a cost).

The process for submitting digital data is onerous in particular for large trees, which were previously part of the habitat hectare now have to be counted and measured which is expensive and time consuming.

The definition of native vegetation now includes post disturbance re-vegetation.

All previous native vegetation removal/clearing permits for the last 5 years need to be obtained from the local council.

The emphasis is now on habitat rather than species, however in many cases there is no accepted definition of habitat. For example, the swift parrot or temperate rain forest. Judgements may be made but these are open to being challenged.

In summary, the Native Vegetation Removal Regulations are now even more onerous and cumbersome than the previous regulations.

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