Why is native vegetation important?

The Native Vegetation Act 2003 and the Native Vegetation Regulation 2013 were repealed on 25 August. For information on the new arrangements for managing native vegetation visit the Land Management website.

Native vegetation is crucial for the health of New South Wales’ environment supporting agricultural productivity as well as the biodiversity that is central to Australia's cultural identity.

Native vegetation:

  • controls erosion through protecting soils and riverbanks
  • reduces land degradation and salinity
  • improves water quality and availability
  • provides habitat for a wealth of unique biodiversity including threatened species.

In addition, native vegetation in NSW stores a significant amount of carbon, mitigating the effects of climate change.

There is a growing body of evidence related to the benefits of native vegetation to both on-farm production and broader catchment values. (1)

Healthy catchments and farming land can be estimated to increase farm productivity nationally by over $1 billion per annum (2002). This is a 5% increase in the total value of agricultural production. (2)

Benefits to farmers' bottom line

Farms with good native vegetation can improve economic outcomes for farmers by improving land value, increasing production outcomes, and reducing operating costs. (3) (4)

Increased production outcomes include:

  • increased crop yields (6) (12)
  • improved pasture growth (8) (9)
  • health benefits to stock include increases in stock weight and fertility and reduced stress and mortality (6) (10) (11)

Reduced operating costs include:

  • pollination of crops (13) (14)
  • maintaining more water in the landscape reducing need for irrigation (7)
  • reduction of pests requiring less inputs or management actions (5)

Restoring Native Vegetation

The restoration of native vegetation, in combination with the protection and rehabilitation of remnant vegetation, can reverse the negative effects of clearing and habitat fragmentation.

Farmers may be able to secure financial assistance and can get advice from their local land service on revegetating their land.

References

1) Walpole, S.C. (undated)

2) Morton et al. 2002, Sustaining our Natural Systems and Biodiversity: an independent report to the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering, and Technology Council, CSIRO and Environment Australia, Canberra.

3) Clowes, A., personal communication in S. McMahon, (1997), Farm Ecology (biodiversity conservation) in Property Management Planning, Farming for the Future, National Parks and Wildlife Service. Reported at the Remnant Vegetation Conference Orange (1996).

4) Lockwood, M., Walpole, S.C. and Miles, C.A., (2000), Economics of Remnant Native Vegetation Conservation on Private Property, LWRDC Occasional Paper, No /00, Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.

5) Binning, Cork, Parry & Shelton (2001). Natural Assets: An Inventory of Ecosystem Goods and Services in the Goulburn Broken Catchment.

6) Fitzpatrick, D., (1994), Money Trees on Your Property: profit gained through trees and how to grow them, Inkata, Sydney.

7) Siepen, G., (1983), Trees for Farms, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Sydney.

8) Walpole, S.C., (1998), Catchment Benefits of Remnant Native Vegetation Conservation, Charles Sturt University, Johnston Centre, Albury.

9) Williams, D.G., Wallace, P., McKeon, G.M., Hall, W., Katjiua, M., Abel, N., 1999. Effects of trees on native pasture production on the southern tablelands. Publication No 99/165 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

10) Cremer, K.W., (ed.), (1990), Trees for Rural Australia, Inkata Press, Sydney.

11) Blare, D., (1994), ‘Benefits of Remnant Vegetation: focus on rural lands and rural communities’, Prepared for Protecting Remnant Bushland. Orange Agricultural College, Orange.

12) Carberry, P.S., Meinke, H., Poulton, P.L., Hargreaves, J.N.G., Snell, A.J. and Sudmeyer, R.A. (2002) Modelling crop growth and yield under the environmental changes induced by windbreaks. 2. Simulation of potential benefits at selected sites in Australia. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 42, 887-900.

13) CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology, and Sidney Myer Centenary Celebration, (2000), The Nature and Value of Australia’s Ecosystem Services.

14) Greening Australia (1999) Management Principles to Guide the Restoration and Rehabilitation of Indigenous Vegetation. Greening Australia (NSW) Inc.

Page last updated: 29 August 2017