Victorian Government review of clearing regulations

Published 04/03/16 | by Graeme Lorimer

The Victorian government is presently implementing pre-election promises to undertake reviews of three legal cornerstones of protection of indigenous flora and fauna:

  • The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
  • The Biodiversity Strategy mandated by the same Act
  • The planning controls over removal of native vegetation

The effectiveness of these legal instruments has a big impact on the security of Victoria’s biodiversity. There will be community consultation on the reviews, which gives you the opportunity to influence the outcome.

The first opportunity for comment is expected to be in March, when we should see ‘consultation papers’. In case the next issue of Indigenotes comes out after the consultation period closes, here is some background information.

Here is some background information:

At Christmas 2013, the former Victorian government changed the planning schemes across Victoria to reduce the controls over removal of native vegetation and the compensation required when permits are granted. The controls became tied strongly to state-wide mapping of vegetation
and threatened fauna so that there would be less need for on-site ecological surveys. The mapping contains major errors in some locations but it is now given legal precedence over actual conditions whenever the mapping shows fewer obstacles to clearing. Another of the many concerns that have been expressed is that isolated trees are treated the same whether they are 400-year-old habitat trees or a tree in its first year of flowering.

IFFA advocated against the 2013 changes. Concerns have also been widely expressed among local government and ecological consultants.

The current review appears not to be considering major changes such as regulating clearing with an Act separate from town planning, as in other states. Hopefully, under the new proposals, planning controls will be more consistent with the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. An example of the current inconsistency is that the presumed distribution of a threatened species can be wildly different between the planning controls and the corresponding ‘Action Statements’ under the Act.

IFFA will be one of many organisations to respond to the imminent consultation paper. If you would like to contribute to IFFA’s response, please send an e-mail to president@iffa.org.au