Watering down protection for native vegetation
Right now Australian bushland and plant life is under serious threat from the State Government policy changes which are significantly watering down current protections of our native habitats.
Victoria is Australia's most cleared state, and today the government is proposing to make it a whole lot easier to remove native plants.
Destructive policy changes planned to come into effect in the next few months will:
- Remove the need for professional on-site botanical assessments before clearing. How will we know what precious plants are there if nobody looks?
- Create a 'cash for clearing' system, which means the bulk of vegetation removal applications will simply require a fee to be paid before clearing.
We urgently need a stronger approach to protection our native plants & habitats. Please donate now to help fight for stronger native habitat protections.
Victoria has around 3000 species of native plants and trees which form over 300 habitat types. All of which are home to 700 types of native animals, not to mention thousands of varieties of invertebrates and fungi.
Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia. After 150 years of land clearing, invasive feral species, the carve-up of habitats, and now the escalating impact of climate change, our natural habitats are on their knees.
On private land alone 8 out of every 10 hectares of native plants are gone.
Around the Riverina, Wimmera, the Volcanic Plains and part of the Mallee 84% of the native vegetation is gone.
Around the Melbourne region, we've lost about 71% from private and public land.
Money really does grow on trees
Native vegetation is not just a home for animals, it provides a whole range of services to our communities, including clean water, protecting soils, storing carbon, helping with pollination and providing people with inspiration and interest in the landscape.
Various studies have indentified that these services are worth many millions of dollars.
A change in policy
The consultation paper contains proposals that would see regulations swing away from encouraging the avoidance of native vegetation clearance and towards policies geared at allowing increased bushland clearing and 'offsetting'.
'Offsetting' is the term used to describe a situation where someone clearing native vegetation is required to 'make up' for the environmental damage caused by that clearing.
In the current climate of government cutbacks it's equally worrying to see that the policy is encourages a 'hands-off' approach to governance. Put bluntly, it's policy designed for a diminished public service.
The first round of consultation is now closed but a second round is planned and we encourage anyone interested in these issues to more about what's at stake and to write to local MPs and the state environment minister Ryan Smith.
The latest information on the status of the review is also available on the Department of Sustainability and Environment website.
Conservation groups call for stonger rules to stop clearing
Parts of Victoria, the most cleared state in Australia, are nearing dangerously low levels of native habitat.
Scientific reports continue to identify the loss of native vegetation as the key contributing factor for ongoing decline in the health of our natural environment.
They reinforce the need to retain, protect and enhance native vegetation.
That's why 36 national, state and local environment groups have released a joint statement calling on the Victorian Government to strengthen, not weaken the state's Native Vegetation Framework.
In spite of years of hard work by the community, environment groups, Landcare and landholders the health of Victoria's natural environment continues to go backwards, and we are now widely recognised as the most ecologically stressed state in Australia.
What you can do
Write to your local state MP and environment minister Ryan Smith asking them to retain strong native vegetation rules and use our briefing paper and submission to make key points in your letter.
Hon. Ryan Smith
Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Level 17, 8 Nicholson Street, Melbourne, VIC 3002
If you don't know who your local representative in the Victorian Parliament is you can find out by visiting the parliamentary website.
| State of Decline: Habitat Trends and Native Vegetation in Victoria|
Reconnecting the landscape
| VEAC native vegetation report|
Media release: VEAC report provides blueprint Baillieu Government