DELWP issues strong warning

THE Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is reminding Victorians to seek advice before removing native plants from private or public land.

Unless a valid exemption applies, a permit is required in Victoria to remove, destroy or lop any native vegetation, including paddock trees, grasslands, wetlands, riparian areas and any native plants in state forests, national parks and reserves. This includes trees along fence lines between private and public land.

DELWP says less than 50 per cent of Victoria’s original native vegetation – trees, shrubs and grasses – remains and it plays an important role for the state’s ecosystems, including habitat for native wildlife.

DELWP Chief Biodiversity Officer, James Todd, said that native vegetation on private land supports up to 30 per cent of Victoria’s threatened species.

“Many species are reliant on habitat on private land for their ongoing survival,” Mr Todd said.

“Maintaining and increasing the amount of native vegetation and habitat on private land is important to enable our natural environment to adapt to climate change.”

Several illegal native vegetation clearing cases have led to convictions and financial penalties this year.

In one instance, a farmer was convicted and ordered to pay $60,000 for cutting down dozens of mature Eucalyptus trees in the Annya State Forest, near Heywood, after a Conservation Regulator investigation.

Additionally, the removal of native vegetation affecting mature trees and/or their limbs has potential to harm Aboriginal scar trees.

These activities may trigger requirements under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 before any works can be undertaken, so DELWP says it is important that people understand their obligations to ensure compliance.

In Victoria, all Aboriginal places, objects and ancestral remains are protected. It is against the law to disturb or destroy an Aboriginal place without the appropriate authorisation.

Adhering to the laws around native flora ensures that landholders conserve the environment, protect cultural heritage, and avoid facing big penalties.

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