Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology

One of the key objectives of the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (the Act) is to end broadscale clearing except where the clearing will improve or maintain environmental outcomes. The Native Vegetation Regulation 2013 (the Regulation) sets out an Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology (EOAM) (130788EOAMNVR13.pdf, 1.1MB) that the Local Land Services (LLS) must use to assess whether clearing proposals for Property Vegetation Plans (PVPs) and Development Consents meet this criteria.

Note: An administrative update to the EOAM was made in late 2013 to provide for the ending of CMAs and commencement of local land services on 1 January 2014.

The EOAM is applied using objective, computer-based decision support software known as the Native Vegetation Assessment Tools (NVAT), or simply, new PVP Assessment Tools. This software weighs up the positive and negative benefits of different management actions, helping assessment officers to make practical decisions based on the best scientific information available. The methodology and software has evolved as a result of extensive field trials, public submissions and review by panels of independent scientists, farming and environmental interests.

Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology databases

EOAM chapter section '2.4.1 Databases containing environmental information' identifies key databases to be considered in the assessment tools.

Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 specify the circumstances in which broadscale clearing is to be regarded as improving or maintaining environmental outcomes for water quality, salinity, biodiversity, soils and invasive native scrub respectively.

To apply these circumstances accurately and meaningfully to the enormous range of possible clearing and offset proposals in the diverse environments that exist throughout the State it is necessary to rely on detailed data about the state of the environment in NSW. The information is held in the following databases:

  1. NSW Threatened Species Profile database
  2. Vegetation condition benchmarks
  3. Overcleared landscapes database
  4. Vegetation types database
  5. Major rivers database
  6. Important wetlands database
  7. Invasive native scrub species database
  8. Catchment hazard assessment map
  9. Coastal thinning genera database.

Note: The assessment tools and data used to assess clearing applications were originally hosted on the Service First network. This network is wasdecommissioned at the end of September 2015. To enable Local Land Services to continue operating, OEH has quickly built interim tools on a new network. OEH has connected the interim tools directly to its ‘live’ biodiversity databases. The benefit of using these live databases is that the interim tools are using the latest biodiversity information.

Environmental outcomes assessment protocols

The Minister has approved two assessment protocols for where a minor variation is made to the EOAM:

An accredited expert can use these two protocols to make an assessment that the proposed clearing will improve or maintain environmental outcomes and will have additional conservation benefits on a landscape scale.

Minor clearing resulting in improved native vegetation condition - Clause 20 (formerly clause 28) policies

Under the Act clearing is defined as cutting down, felling, thinning, logging, removing, killing, destroying, poisoning, ringbarking, uprooting or burning native vegetation including native grasses and herbage. Proposed clearing requires a PVP or consent.

Where activities involving minor clearing of native vegetation are likely to improve the condition of native vegetation or prevent its long term degradation, such as rehabilitation activities, a policy describing these activities can be approved by the Minister under Clause 20 of the Regulation. These policies will cover one or more LLS areas. PVPs involving these activities in these areas will be assessed against the Clause 20 policy rather than the EOAM in the Act. This simplifies the approval process for these activities.

Previous clause 28 policies approved by the Minister:

All these policies continue to have effect through the savings and transitional provisions of clause 65 of the new Regulation until they are revoked by the Minister.

Page last updated: 01 December 2015