The Victorian Government has released its review into native vegetation clearing regulations, including proposed changes to planning and permits rules. Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia and so these regulations are key to protecting our remaining habitats.

The review has taken two years and improves a system that had been scrambled and weakened under the previous Victorian government.
On the face of it there are significant improvements, but native vegetation clearing regulations are complex and the devil is often in the detail. We encourage everyone with an interest in looking after Victoria’s native vegetation to read the review carefully before putting in a submission.

Improvements include:

  • Placing greater emphasis on avoiding the removal of native vegetation.
  • Updating maps, taking into consideration additional values of native vegetation such as endangered Ecological Vegetation Classes and large trees.
  • Ensuring site-assessed information has a greater role in decision making.
  • Ensuring that offsets must protect large trees when they are permitted to be removed.
  • Enabling increased monitoring and reporting of native vegetation losses and offsets.

There still appears to be a significant exemption for state government departments and clearing on public land, which is one of the largest categories of clearing in Victoria.

The proposed regulatory system changes are described in detail in the following documents:

Review of the native vegetation clearing regulations: Summary of amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions. This document describes changes to the relevant clauses of the planning provisions and all planning schemes in Victoria.

Native vegetation clearing – assessment guidelines: This is the draft of the new document to be incorporated into all planning schemes in Victoria.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will review and consider comments received by 5 February 2017. Proposed changes will then be finalised and submitted to Victoria’s planning minister for approval later in 2017.

You can download relevant project documents and make your submission on the proposed changes by visiting the government’s Engage Victoria website.