In 2019, about 46,300 hectares of non woody vegetation, such as grasses, small shrubs and groundcover, and 29,300 hectares of woody vegetation was lost on rural regulated land. Regulated land represents the area of state subject to Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act), which came into effect in August 2017, as well as the provisions of the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018 (Land Management Code).
About 43 million hectares (54%) of land in NSW is categorised as rural regulated land.
The LLS Act provides transitional arrangements for determining land categorisation. Until an area has been designated on the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map, landholders can self-assess groundcover such as grasses, forbs and herbs to determine the regulatory status of an area (Category 1 – exempt land, or Category 2 – regulated land). Landholder self-assessment of groundcover within the transitional mapping period contributes to reported changes in non woody vegetation cover.
Figures for the 2018 non woody vegetation loss have been updated to reflect increased clearing identified since release of the 2018 report. This is due to higher resolution or later imagery that verifies previously detected change as a conversion from native vegetation to cropping.
Under the Local Land Services Act 2013 the Land Management Code:
- authorises clearing of native vegetation on Category 2 – regulated land
- provides for establishment and management of set aside areas
- authorises recategorisation of land.
There was a decline in total reported clearing across NSW in 2019. This is reflected in a reduction in clearing of native groundcover and woody vegetation subject to the LLS Act.
In 2019, the area of total clearing authorised under the LLS Act was 11% (an increase on 2018). The area of total clearing under the previous legislative framework, the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NV Act), was 14% (a decrease on 2018).
There remains a high percentage of unexplained clearing in 2019 at 74%, a 2% variance on last year’s figure of 76%. When divided into landcover types, 90% of non woody vegetation loss and 47% of woody vegetation loss remain unexplained.
Unexplained clearing refers to areas in which the Department does not know the specific details of the clearing. This could be attributed to clearing undertaken as part of:
- allowable activities
- land management activities under the Land Management Code that don’t require approval
- landholder self-assessment of level of disturbance of grasslands or groundcover.
Summary report and data
Read the Woody and non woody landcover change on rural regulated land: Summary report 2019.
Data for 2019 and previous years is available in Results for landcover change on rural regulated land 2019 (XLSX 300KB).
Read more about unexplained clearing.