The Permitted clearing of native vegetation – biodiversity assessment guidelines (the Guidelines) outlines the system of measurement and classification used when an application for a permit to remove native vegetation is assessed.

This system of measurement and classification is supported by information tools and methods, including spatial maps and the habitat hectare assessment method.

The key biodiversity maps that are referenced in the Guidelines are the:

  • Native vegetation location risk map
  • Native vegetation condition map
  • Strategic biodiversity map
  • Habitat importance maps.

These maps are used throughout the permitted clearing regulations and can assist landholders to understand and meet the requirements of the Guidelines. 

For information on the creation and use of these maps see the fact sheet:

Biodiversity information tools used in Victoria's native vegetation permitted clearing regulations – Fact sheet (PDF, 448.3 KB)
Biodiversity information tools used in Victoria's native vegetation permitted clearing regulations – Fact sheet (DOCX, 4.3 MB)

For applications for a permit to remove native vegetation in the low risk-based pathway, the maps can be used to prepare an application.

These maps are available in the Native Vegetation Information Management (NVIM) system and our Biodiversity Interactive Map.

These maps for use with Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) software can be requested by sending an email to data.vsdl@delwp.vic.gov.au.

For applications in the moderate and high risk-based pathways, additional information will be required. This includes:

  • habitat hectare assessment report
  • an assessment of the impact the proposal has on habitat for any rare or threatened species

Habitat importance maps for species on the Threatened species advisory list have been developed to inform the assessment of the impact of a proposal on the habitat for rare or threatened species.

The Native vegetation location risk map is referenced in Section 6 of the Guidelines. The Native vegetation location risk map is used to determine the location risk of a proposal. Location risk can be one of three categories and is generated for each location across the state from information about the importance of a location as habitat for rare or threatened species. Location risk is combined with the extent risk to determine the risk-based pathway used to assess an application to remove native vegetation.

The current version of the map is: Native vegetation location risk map 2013 version 2.

The Native vegetation location risk map 2013 version 2 is:

  • included in the NVIM system 
  • available on the Biodiversity Interactive Map

For more information about the creation and use of the Native vegetation location risk map and the risk based pathways see this fact sheet:

The Native vegetation condition map is referenced in Section 3 of the Guidelines. The Native vegetation condition map is a map of modelled condition values for native vegetation in Victoria, aiming to reflect three components - composition, structure and function. Condition values from the native vegetation condition map are used in calculating the offset requirements for applications assessed in the low risk-based pathway.

The current versions of the map are the Native vegetation condition map 2013 Version 2 and 2A:

See Biodiversity information tools used in Victoria's native vegetation permitted clearing regulations – Fact sheet for more details.

The Strategic biodiversity map is referenced in Section 3 of the Guidelines. The Strategic biodiversity map outlines the strategic biodiversity score of different locations in the landscape. The strategic biodiversity score is used to calculate and determine the offset requirements for applications assessed in the low risk-based pathway.

The current version of the map is: Strategic biodiversity map 2013 version 2.

The current versions of the map are the Strategic biodiversity map Version 2 and 2A:

See Biodiversity information tools used in Victoria's native vegetation permitted clearing regulations – Fact sheet for more details.

Applications using the moderate and high risk-based pathways require an assessment of the impact of the proposal on the habitat for any rare or threatened species. Habitat importance maps are used in undertaking this assessment. Relevant habitat importance maps are listed below:

List of habitat importance maps used in the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations (PDF, 3.0 MB)
List of habitat importance maps used in the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations (DOCX, 4.6 MB)

The habitat importance maps for use with Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) software can be requested by sending an email to data.vsdl@delwp.vic.gov.au.

The Vegetation Quality Assessment (VQA) (Habitat Hectare) approach is the standard method of assessing vegetation quality in Victoria. Consistency in the application of the method by assessors is essential to support the delivery of Victoria's native vegetation permitted clearing regulations.

Habitat Hectare Assessment fact sheet (PDF, 67.8 KB)
Habitat Hectare Assessment fact sheet (DOCX, 56.6 KB)

The Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) delivers the VQA Competency Check (VQACC) accreditation for native vegetation assessors. Participants complete both a theory and field-based assessment to demonstrate their ability to conduct a habitat hectare assessment to the DELWP standard.

The VQACC is aimed at experienced assessors. It is not suitable for inexperienced assessors. Participants who attend a VQACC will have detailed knowledge and experience in conducting Habitat Hectare assessments.

Successful participants will be registered on DELWP's VQA Competency Register. Competency is valid for 2 years from the date of the field assessment.

The following is the list of assessors who are currently registered on DELWP's VQA Competency Register. Assessors who do not wish to have their names published on this list need to email habitat.hectares@delwp.vic.gov.au to have their name removed.

Vegetation Quality Assessment - list of competent assessors (PDF, 106.7 KB)

Email us If you require an accessible version of the Vegetation Quality Assessment - list of competent assessors.

The next available session is scheduled for:

14 July 2017, at Currawong Bush Park, Warrandyte

1 Septembet 2017, at Currawong Bush Park, Warrandyte

To register your interest in this Competency Check, email habitat.hectares@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Cancellations within 5 working days of a scheduled VQACC will incur a cancellation fee of $100 (excl. GST). Exceptions may apply subject to approval from DELWP.

Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual

The Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual describes the application of the habitat hectare method (version 1.3) for assessing native vegetation quality.

The manual  provides a step-by-step approach to conducting assessments in the field and useful tips for ensuring consistency of application. The method involves the assessment of a number of site-based habitat and landscape components against a predetermined Ecological Vegetation Class (EVC) benchmark.

The habitat hectare method described is based on the approach described by Parkes et al. (2003).

Version 1.3 described in the manual is the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) approved method for assessing native vegetation for regulatory and investment purposes.

Chapters 1 -11
1. Glossary
2. Introduction
3. Information Requirements
4. Useful Field Tools
5. Site Inspection
6. Habitat Hectares Scoring System
7. Assessing 'Site Condition' Components
8. Assessing 'Local Landscape Context' Components
9. Assessing Treeless Vegetation
10. Final Habitat Score
11. References

Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual V1.3 Chapters 1-11 (PDF, 959.6 KB)
Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual V1.3 Chapters 1-11 (DOCX, 1.2 MB)

Appendix 1-6
Appendix 1: Expertise Level of Assessors
Appendix 2: Development of the habitat hectares approach and its application in various projects
Appendix 3: Vegetation Quality Assessment – Quick Reference Guide
Appendix 4: Proportion of expected healthy cover present
Appendix 5: Canopy projective foliage cover guide
Appendix 6: Understorey life form categories applied in vegetation quality assessments

Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual V1_3 Appendix 1-6 (PDF, 1.1 MB)
Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual V1_3 Appendix 1-6 (DOC, 4.0 MB)

Appendix 7-9
Appendix 7: Examples of vegetation quality assessment life forms
Appendix 8: Vegetation Quality Field Assessment Sheet
Appendix 9: Worked example of a Vegetation Quality Field Assessment Sheet.

Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual V1_3 Appendix 7-9 (PDF, 1.8 MB)