Native Vegetation Act 2003
In 2005, the NSW Government introduced the Native Vegetation Act 2003, (NV Act) to end broadscale land clearing across the state. The Office of Environment and Heritage is the government agency charged with ensuring our native vegetation is protected for future generations.
The NV Act regulates the clearing of native vegetation on all land in NSW except for land listed in Schedule 1 of the Act. Excluded land falls into the following categories:
- national parks and other conservation areas
- state forests and reserves
- urban areas.
Native vegetation is classified as any species of vegetation that existed in NSW before pastoral settlement, including trees, saplings, shrubs, scrub, understorey, groundcover or wetland plants. Clearing is defined as cutting down, felling, thinning, logging, removing, killing, destroying, poisoning, ringbarking, uprooting or burning native vegetation. For more information on the NV Act see Info Sheet 4 (nvinfosheet4.pdf, 737KB)
Mangroves, seagrasses and other marine vegetation are managed under the Fisheries Management Act 1994.
Changes to the NV Act
In December 2009 the NV Act was amended to exclude from the operation of the NV Act 'land on which development for the purposes of seniors housing, and no other development, is carried out under the "Seniors Housing SEPP" and for which a site compatibility certificate has been issued under that Policy'. That is, the exclusion applies to land on which seniors housing development occurs if that development is subject to a site compatibility certificate and has received development approval under the EP&A Act.
Previously the NV Act was amended (in October 2006) based on recommendations from the independent Ministerial Review Committee (MRC), made up of key stakeholders. The changes are listed below, and you can download the MRC report (MRCreport.pdf, 608KB).
Invasive native scrub changes
In November 2006, the NSW Government amended the Native Vegetation Regulation 2005 to improve the assessment processes and definitions that relate to invasive native scrub (INS). All new Property Vegetation Plans (PVPs) and variations to existing PVPs are now assessed under these revised provisions.
Unless INS is regrowth, or it can be cleared via a routine agricultural management activity (RAMA), farmers are required to obtain a PVP to treat INS on their property.
The amendments resulted from a review of the INS tool by a working group chaired by the independent scientist Dr Denis Saunders. The review considered the concerns of farmers and Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) that the original assessment processes were too prescriptive and prevented effective management of INS.
The amended Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology for the INS tool:
- includes additional INS species
- removes the need for involvement of an accredited expert
- allows CMAs to vary Stem Diameter Thresholds by +/- 5 cm
- provides greater flexibility for the retention of small INS plants
- permits the use of lucerne to stabilise soils
- provides for increased cropping rotations - up to three times in 15 years
- allows some flexibility to treat INS in Threatened Ecological Communities.
The working group also recommended providing incentive funding for treating INS, and training and communication about INS management.
These changes mean that:
- farmers can choose to retain vegetation in clumps rather than spread across the paddock
- farmers can obtain incentives from CMAs to treat INS
- the improved system prevents soil erosion and land degradation, as INS PVPs must still meet the 'improve or maintain' environmental outcomes test.
For information on current INS PVPs see the Public register, and for more information on managing INS, see Info Sheet 9 (nvinfosheet9.pdf, 387KB).
Land and soil capability tool
The NSW Government is continuing to work with stakeholders to amend the Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology with a review of the management actions required to pass the 'improve or maintain test' for land degradation. Currently the Land and Soil Capability (LSC) Tool includes broad management actions that cover most situations. The need for refinement to allow greater flexibility for the range of land uses and management actions has been identified.
Practical benefits of a LSC Tool management actions review could include:
- more options to meet the 'improve or maintain test' where there is a risk of land degradation
- management actions to meet the 'improve or maintain' test could be tailored to better suit different industries
- more effective management details negotiated on-site by CMA officers.
PVP developer software upgrade
The NSW Government has upgraded the PVP Developer software and administration system. The upgrade has rebuilt the PVP Developer and PAMS systems to provide a system based on the latest software. The software for creating PVPs is NVAT (Native Vegetation Assessment Tools) and its administration system is PADACS (PVPs, Agreements, Data And Customer Service). There will be no change to the ability of Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) to use their discretion and judgement in the assessment of Property Vegetation Plans (PVPs) as a result of this software change.
The practical benefits of the PVP Developer software upgrade to NVAT include:
- Faster PVP assessment using improved and quicker software,
- Streamlined assessment using integrated tools, and
- Automatic reports to farmers on their PVP in the case of 'red lights'.
Biometric tool and threatened species tool - data reviews
The NSW Government is updating a number of the datasets that underpin the Biometric and Threatened Species Tools within the NVAT (previously the PVP Developer). The revised data will apply to future Property Vegetation Plans (PVPs) and variations to existing PVPs.
The data reviews are part of the NSW Government's commitment to improving the scientific information that underpins the NVAT. The data reviews cover:
The practical benefits of the data reviews include:
- improved accuracy of biodiversity and threatened species assessment in the NVAT
- access to the latest scientific information on vegetation types, benchmarks and threatened species used in PVP assessments for farmers and the public
- a review of the 14 priority threatened species that were causing high offsets requirements and 'red lights' for some PVPs
- immediate availability of the new data for negotiations between farmers and CMAs.
Page last updated: 10 May 2011