Can I remove native vegetation?

In Victoria, a permit is required to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation.  Native vegetation includes trees, shrubs, grasses and small flowering plants. These regulations are known as the Native Vegetation Permitted Clearing Regulations and are administrated by local councils through the Victorian Planning Provisions. There are exemptions to requiring a permit, for example, to maintain a fence line, but only for a certain amount. It is always best to speak to your local council’s environment officer or planning department before undertaking any works which may impact on native vegetation on your property. They will be able to provide advice and assistance to ensure that you follow the correct process and obtain the appropriate permit where required.

The other very important piece of legislation which protects native vegetation is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation and it provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places, defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance.

There are several matters of national environmental significance, however there are only a few which directly apply to the H11 H12 catchment area. The Australian Government has identified the Natural Temperate Grasslands, Grassy Eucalypt Woodland and Seasonal Herbaceous Wetlands as critically endangered ecological communities which are protected under the EPBC Act and which do exist within the catchment. This means that a person must not take an action that has, will have or is likely to have a significant impact on any of these ecological communities without approval from the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Energy (the Minister). There have been many reported cases of land managers being prosecuted and fined millions of dollars for clearing or disturbing EPBC protected native vegetation across Australia.

Landcare facilitators, local native vegetation experts and GHCMA staff can help you identify if you have any of the native vegetation species which may be covered by the EPBC Act. For further information on the EBPC Act please visit http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/factsheet-epbc-act-frequently-asked-questions.

Remember, it is always best to seek advice and assistance from your local Landcare facilitator, local council environment staff or GHCMA staff prior to undertaking the removal of, or activities which will disturb native vegetation on your property.