Victoria’s native vegetation clearing laws are already complex, costly and flawed.
But now the State Government wants to tighten the regulations by placing even more costly and insurmountable hurdles in front of farmers wishing to clear native vegetation and create viable long-term offsets.
The VFF believes the regulations should allow farmers to clear trees and bushland in return for establishing or protecting an alternative area of native vegetation on a one-to-one basis.
What we have instead is set of rules that deliberately force farmers into avoiding clearing vegetation and establishing practical offsets. The regulations impose a raft of factors that often mean farmers must offset twice what they clear.
The risk is farmers end up seeing remnant bushland and isolated paddock trees as liabilities that constrain their productivity, because they can’t clear and offset.
Farmers need to be able to clear some trees to operate GPS-driven equipment. And most are willing to offset that loss by planting and or protecting other vegetation on their properties.The VFF has already run native vegetation forums for members in Horsham and Ararat, outlining key areas of concern in regard to the government’s proposed improvements to Victoria’s native vegetation clearing regulations.
Proposed regulatory changes include halving the clearing thresholds for farmers wishing to follow the simplified offset pathway from less than 15 trees and 1 hectare of bushland, down to 7 trees and 0.5ha.
Another proposal put forward by the government is to empower councils and community groups to identify and take action in response to landholders failing to comply with the regulations.
This is alarming to the VFF given it would result in community groups policing native vegetation regulations. This should be the sole domain of governments.
The government also wants to require anyone wanting to clear and offset native vegetation to include an ‘avoid and minimisation statement’ and ‘offset strategy’ prior to permits being granted.
Farmers would be happy to work with government to provide win-win outcomes, which are win for productivity and the environment.
*Gerald Leach, VFF Land Management chairThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.