No Net Loss

The Permitted Clearing of Native Vegetation is currently under review by the State Government with changes to be announced some time in mid 2016.

Until the new changes are announced the current Permitted Clearing of Native Vegetation amendments introduced on the 20th December 2013 still apply. The current regulatory framework for dealing with the removal of native vegetation was introduced as an amendment, Amendment VC105, into the Victorian planning scheme. The reforms are detailed in the Permitted Clearing of Native Vegetation – Biodiversity Assessment Guidelines which is now an incorporated document within the Victorian Planning Scheme and replaces the Native Vegetation Management Framework of 2002

Copies of the new guidelines can be obtained here: Permitted Clearing of Native Vegetation

There are a number of key points associated with the changes:

1. The overarching objective is to have no net loss in the contribution made by native vegetation to Victoria’s biodiversity. This replaces the net gain approach to vegetation management.
2. Assessments required for planning permits will now be based on a risk based pathway which will depend on the extent of vegetation or scattered tree clearing required within certain criteria (i.e. <0.5 ha, 0.5 - <1.0 ha and >1.0 ha in area or <15 or>15 scattered trees). The pathways will either be Low, Medium or High. The site of the proposed clearing will also be important based on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) statewide mapping and will fall into either A, B or C categories.
3. The requirement for a site-based habitat hectare assessment is only required within the moderate and high risk-based pathways
4. The requirement for offsets have changed from “like for like” to either specific or general offsets and are risk-adjusted, depending on the risk-based assessment pathway i.e Low, Medium or High.
5. As part of the changes a new online Native Vegetation Information Management system (NVIM) has been developed by DELWP to assist applicants with the process. The NVIM will provide information about the site including:
– Native vegetation location risk
– Strategic biodiversity score
– Native vegetation condition score

DELWP has prepared habitat importance maps for all Victorian rare or threatened species.
Decision guidelines relate specifically to the risk-based pathways.

Suitably accredited individuals with a current ‘Habitat Hectare Competency Accreditation’ from the DELWP should undertake a Habitat Hectare Assessments.

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