Victoria has a rich and diverse range of ecosystems and flora and fauna. Biodiversity conservation is recognised as an essential component of responsible environment and natural resource management. Conserving biodiversity is also fundamental to both quality of life and economic well being, both now and in the future.
The Victorian government is committed to ensuring that biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of flora and fauna is considered when projects are proposed that involve land clearance.
Any proposed works that affect biodiversity in Vicotria may only proceed in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth), the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
This guideline is to assist managers of department portfolio facilities to comply with statutory obligations in regard to biodiversity conservation arising from land-use and development proposals.
Biological diversity or Biodiversity is the variety of all living life-forms including plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they all contain and the ecosystems of which they form a part.
While native flora and fauna are inherently diverse and exist within complex systems they share underlying environmental features that are characterised in 21 'Bioregions' in Victoria.
Government has established a number of biodiversity controls to ensure that our living wealth is maintained and enhanced for our economic, cultural, social and spiritual well-being. Biodiversity controls must be considered when land use or development proposals involve clearance of vegetation.
Legislative and Policy Context
The Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) provides for the protection of ecosystems of world or national significance; and of endangered or threatened flora and fauna. The EPBC lists threatened species and ecological communities; and threatening processes.
The EPBC is administered by the Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra (DEH). Actions with significant impact on listed threatened species, migratory species or endangered communities are 'controlled actions' and prohibited without the approval of the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment.
The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CLP) provides in particular for the establishment of Catchment Management Authorities to develop and implement regional catchment strategies to identify and manage processes that threaten land and water resources; including the control of noxious weeds and pest animals.
The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG) provides for the management of threatening processes to ensure that Victoria’s flora and fauna can survive, flourish and retain their potential for evolutionary development in the wild. The FFG lists threatened species and ecological communities; and threatening processes.
The FFG provides for Public Authority Management Agreements (PAMA's) under which management plans involving threatening processes by public authorities may be agreed.
The FFG provides for the preparation of a Flora and Fauna Guarantee Strategy. The “strategy” was launched as Victoria’s Biodiversity Strategy.
The Biodiversity Strategy, 2000 (VBS) provides guiding principles and overarching objectives for the conservation and management of biodiversity in Victoria and is coordinated with other natural resource management mechanisms such as the Regional Catchment Strategies, Regional Forest Agreements, and National Parks and Reserve planning.
The Native Vegetation Management – A Framework for Action, 2002 (NVF) provides strategic direction for the protection of native vegetation and proposes that land management be guided by retention and conservation with a goal of 'net gain' where losses in native vegetation are reduced and recovery by active intervention promoted.
The NVF, and associated operational guidelines, are the main source document for evaluating the conservation status and significance of native vegetation. It is applied by the consulting industry when undertaking technical assessment of native vegetation quality and development of native vegetation management plans; and State Government and Local Government when considering permit applications for land clearance.
The Planning & Environment Act 1987 (PEA) provides for the establishment of planning schemes that govern the use and development of land. The planning schemes are prepared, and amended as necessary, by a planning authority; and administered by a responsible authority (issuing planning permits and making enforcement orders).
While some planning schemes deal with use and development of land in a specified area, e.g. Docklands, most are municipality based and are prepared and administered by the municipal council for its local government area.
The Planning Schemes are constructed from a standard framework provided in the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs) comprising:
- Clauses 11-19 State Policy Framework
- Clauses 20-22 Local Policy Framework
- Clauses 31-37 Zone Requirements
- Clauses 41-45 Overlay Requirements
- Clauses 51-56 Particular Provisions
- Clauses 61-67 General Provisions
- Clauses 71-75 Definitions
In regard to vegetation controls in particular, the VPPs (and all planning schemes) provide:
State Policy Framework - Clause 15.09 Conservation of Native Flora and Fauna
Objective: To assist the protection and conservation of biodiversity, including native vegetation retention and provision of habitats for native plants and animals and control of pest plants and animals.
Implementation: Planning authorities should have regard to the FFG, the NVF, regional catchment strategy and regional vegetation plans when preparing planning scheme amendments or municipal strategic statements affecting native vegetation, flora, fauna, waterways or wetlands.