Native Vegetation: An Update
This Briefing Paper is an update of the 2003 Briefing Paper Native Vegetation: Recent Developments. Since that paper, considerable changes have occurred in the regulation of native vegetation – including new legislation and regulations gazetted in November 2005.
A Brief History of Native Vegetation Regulation in New South Wales
Since the election of Labor in March 1995, the Government has had an evolutionary approach to native vegetation regulation. The most important developments are described
State Environmental Planning Policy 46, Protection and Management of Native Vegetation, was introduced on 10 August 1995. The aim of this Policy was to prevent inappropriate vegetation clearance. Under the original provisions of the Policy, clearing of native vegetation required development consent of the Director-General of the Department of Land and Water Conservation and the concurrence of the Director-General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. SEPP 46 was amended twice.
The Government established the NSW Vegetation Forum (comprising representatives of key stakeholder groups) to develop long-term options to replace SEPP 46. On the basis of this consultation, the NSW Vegetation Forum recommended: 1
A tiered approach be adopted with State guidelines, regional management plans, local agreements and a permit system;
A self regulated (ie, clearing in a manner consistent with relevant approved plans of management) approach with approved regional guidelines and management plans and Statewide ‘safety nets’ the preferred option. Either a new Native Vegetation Management Act should be developed or a new Native Vegetation/Soil Conservation Act developed;
Legislation should provide for the following: a NSW Vegetation Council; regional management plans; an acknowledgement of the need for landholder/community participation; stewardship incentives; ongoing research and monitoring; education services.
In response to the Vegetation Forum recommendations, the Government’s preferred long-term management regime was announced on 18 March 1997, with these proposals released for public discussion in a White Paper A proposed model for native vegetation conservation in NSW on 23 July, 1997. A Native Vegetation Conservation Bill was introduced by the Minister for Land and Water Conservation Hon Kim Yeadon MP on 19 November 1997. The subsequent Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 came into force on 1 January 1998.
The introduction of the Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 brought the clearing of native vegetation in NSW under one regime. The Act repealed clearing provisions in the:
NSW Vegetation Forum, Report on Native Vegetation Management in NSW. August 1996 at 9.