To determine whether management of native vegetation clearing is protecting native vegetation.
Victoria is the most cleared Australian state. Around 46 per cent of original native vegetation coverage has been retained on public land, while on private land 21 per cent remains.
The Victorian Government's native vegetation management programs aim to conserve plant species indigenous to Victoria—including trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses, which provide various ecological services including stable animal habitats, preventing land degradation and maintaining the land's productive capacity.
The removal of native vegetation in Victoria is regulated through the Victorian planning provisions of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. This framework is referred to as the native vegetation regulations and was reformed in December 2017.
Victoria's new biodiversity strategy Protecting Victoria's Environment – Biodiversity 2037, which was released in 2017, sets an objective of ensuring a net gain in habitat extent and condition by 2037.
There has been a decline in the quality and extent of native vegetation due to the removal of vegetation on private land and felling of old growth trees as part of planned burning and vegetation removal that is exempt from normal planning controls, such as for some road and mining activities.
The audit will examine whether responsible agencies are appropriately applying the native vegetation clearing regulations following recent changes, as well as how effectively Victoria is managing the clearing that occurs outside of these regulations.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, VicRoads, Colac Otway Shire and West Wimmera Shire Council.