Just before Christmas the State Government introduced new native vegetation policy that significantly weakens the protection of native habitat across Victoria.
It did this despite more than 100 respected ecologists and scientists and a 70 strong force of local conservation groups pushing for the new land clearing laws to be overturned.
Our remaining bushland and the threatened species it protects are part of what makes Victoria so special.
We need to make sure the laws governing how we manage these areas are not simply one-way tickets to fast-tracked development at the expense of native habitat.
The new ‘Permitted Clearing Regulations’ are an attempt to cut ‘green tape’, and, in the majority of applications, fast-track the clearance of native vegetation.
Clearing will now be allowed with very few checks as long as an ‘offset’ can be provided (or money paid for an offset).
On-site assessments by experts will mostly disappear. Instead decisions to clear native bushland will be made using modelled datasets that are seriously flawed.
These sweeping changes have been introduced despite experts, community groups and the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability asking for the policy to be strengthened, not weakened.
We have been working closely with the Environment Defenders Office as well as community groups, experts and government staff to seek better outcomes through this process.
Andrew Bradey, president of the Environmental Farmers Network, says the new land clearing regulations could put at risk some of Victoria’s most vulnerable native species.
He says the new regulations place an extremely low value on scattered paddock trees and completely disregard the role native vegetation plays in preventing erosion, improving water quality and controlling water tables.
Andrew fears they will dramatically change Victoria’s landscape through increased land degradation resulting in reduced agricultural productivity.
It’s still early days under the new policy, and we will keep fighting to improve protections for native habitat and find new ways of achieving this since government policy has failed.
Originally published at vnpa.org.au/page/new-land-clearing-laws-fast_track-habitat-loss