Tuesday, April 02, 2013

native vegetation under review

Earlier this year, in Belgrave, a group of over 30 people heard from the Victorian National Parks Association and the Environment Defenders Office about proposed changes to native vegetation clearing policy in Victoria.  The group of people represented individuals from many local organisations dedicated to protecting and enhancing remnant vegetation and bio-diversity in the Dandenongs and I was pleased to be one of their number. 

As a result of the meeting the group expressed their deep concern to government in regard to the proposed changes to the native vegetation clearing policy particularly:

* The removal of the emphasis on avoidance with regard to the principle of 'avoid, minimise, offset' when issuing permits for vegetation removal
* The emphasis of any offsetting resulting in no net loss rather than a positive net gain
* The simplification of the decision-making process for the majority of applications which will result in loss of landscape connectivity essential to healthy eco-systems

The group agreed that we need a robust process for the protection of native vegetation if Victoria's priceless local and regional values are not to be lost. The group requested further opportunity for meaningful consultation on this important issue.

Back in September 2012, the government released details of the Native Vegetation Review, terrible timing considering as it was a month out from the local government elections, particularly given that local government has a significant role to play when it comes to the Native Vegetation Management Framework.

Yarra Ranges did get a submission together, albeit very hastily given the timelines, you can find a copy here. Some of our key concerns included:

* The narrow economic focus taken in the review  oversimplifies and undermines the inherent complexity and contributions of natural systems

* Landholders should still be required to provide commensurate 'gains' or offsets for their impacts

* Overemphasis on offsetting to provide enviornmental outcomes leads to significant incremental loss of native vegetation

* Strategic offset locations to achieve statewide biodiversity outcomes must not be at the expense of local biodiversity values 

The government has said that there will be further consultation, but I'm yet to hear any more about that.

What can you do to help?

Write to your local MP and to the Minister for Environment Ryan Smith asking them to retain strong native vegetation rules.
There's some very good background information on the Victorian National Parks Association website so you're across the issues.
Our natural environment continues to be under pressure, it's important that the government understands how precious it is to all Victorians into the future and it's important that they hear from you.

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