In Victoria, the removal of native vegetation is regulated and, unless an exemption applies, a permit is required to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation. These regulations are known as the native vegetation removal regulations and are primarily implemented through local planning schemes.

On this page, you can find general information about removing native vegetation in the Farming and Rural Activity Zones, and useful links.

If you wish to remove native vegetation, DELWP can answer any questions you have, and can help you prepare your planning permit application. You can contact the native vegetation team directly at nativevegetation.farming@delwp.vic.gov.au

In 2013 the native vegetation removal regulations were reviewed. The review examined how the regulations have been functioning since native vegetation reforms were introduced in 2013. The changes to the regulations make the system fairer.

Scattered trees are now categorised into two sizes, small and large, where previously they were all considered large. In addition, when mapping scattered trees, if there is any overlap of tree areas this will no longer be double counted. These changes will reduce the area of native vegetation that is proposed to be removed for many applications removing scattered trees, reducing their offset requirements and costs.

Several changes also reduce costs for offsetting on their properties farmers. These include:

  • the development of a template for section 173 agreements for offsets
  • introducing options to bank first party general offsets for use in the future

Change in assessment pathway thresholds

There are three assessment pathways for applications for permits to remove native vegetation: Basic, Intermediate and Detailed. The assessment pathway reflects the potential impact on biodiversity from removing native vegetation. These pathways are determined by:

  • the amount of native vegetation to be removed (in hectares)
  • whether the native vegetation to be removed is habitat for Victoria's rare or threatened species, or endangered or highly sensitive vegetation type
  • whether any large trees are to be removed

The area of native vegetation that can be removed without requiring a site assessment has been lowered. This is to make sure that there is a more detailed assessment when some potentially sensitive native vegetation is proposed to be removed.

This change is not expected to have a significant impact on farmers. However, if you feel your permit application has been negatively impacted by this change please contact the native vegetation team directly at nativevegetation.farming@delwp.vic.gov.au

The objective for the native vegetation removal regulations is ‘to ensure that there is no net loss to biodiversity as a result of the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation’. This is achieved through a three step approach; avoid, minimise and offset.

A planning permit is usually needed to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation (remove native vegetation).

In some cases, native vegetation removal is exempt from requiring a planning permit. Some activities that you may be able to do without a planning permit include:

  • removing native vegetation to build a boundary fence or maintain an existing fence on your land
  • collecting fallen timber or removing small trees less than 40cm diameter at breast height for personal use, e.g. for firewood or fencing
  • grazing stock
  • mowing or slashing grass for maintenance
  • lopping and pruning native vegetation for maintenance
  • removing regrowth that is less than 10 years’ old
  • removing planted native vegetation
  • removing native vegetation that poses an immediate risk to life or property
  • removing native vegetation around a dwelling for bushfire protection

There are extra exemptions that apply to land in the Farming and Rural Activity Zones. These exemptions mean you can remove limited amount of native vegetation without a planning permit to:

  • maintain existing agricultural buildings and works
  • construct new agricultural buildings and works
  • construct a new single dwelling

To check if there is an exemption from requiring a permit for the native vegetation you want to remove see the full table of exemptions at Clause 52.17-7 and Clause 52.16-8 of the planning schemes https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/

To rely on exemptions from needing a permit to remove native vegetation:

  1. Make sure the removal is eligible for the exemption, and that you can meet all the exemption conditions. These might include limits on how much native vegetation you can remove over a period of time.
  2. Check if there are any other planning permit requirements that apply to the activity or development for which you want to remove native vegetation (e.g. an environmental overlay).
  3. Make sure you only remove the minimum amount of native vegetation necessary.
  4. If you are removing native vegetation on someone else’s property or on public land, obtain the consent of the landowner or manager before you start the removal.

Your local council can assist with all of the above steps. Before undertaking any native vegetation removal that is exempt from a planning permit take photographs and keep records of correspondence from the council confirming that it is exempt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can I talk to about my application?

For detailed advice about your particular circumstances, please contact your local council planning department.

Most local councils have information about applying for planning permits on their websites. Direct links to your council’s website are available here.

DELWP can also answer any questions you have, and can help you prepare your planning permit application. You can contact the native vegetation team directly at nativevegetation.farming@delwp.vic.gov.au

How can I find out what other rules about native vegetation might apply to my property?

Check with your local council whether any schedule, Native Vegetation Precinct Plan or environmental overlay applies to your property. Check also whether the vegetation could be protected under other local, state or federal legislation.

Local councils use environmental overlays in areas where there are important environmental assets or risks that need to be considered if native vegetation is proposed to be removed (such as erosion). Where an environmental overlay is in place, some Clause 52.17-7 exemptions do not apply. Overlays may also require additional information to be provided when applying for a planning permit.

To see if any overlays apply to your property go to the Victorian Planning Portal. Search for your property by entering your address at: www.planning.vic.gov.au

This allows you to create and download a Planning Property Report that explains what zones and overlays apply to your property. Once you know what zone and overlays apply to your land, you can look at the planning permit requirements in the relevant section of your planning scheme online.

How to apply for a permit to remove native vegetation

Unless an exemption applies you usually need a planning permit from your local council to remove native vegetation. A quick guide of the permit application process and key steps is provided below. For more information on applying for a planning permit to remove native vegetation see the Applicant’s guide – applications to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation (PDF, 2.5 MB) or speak to your local council.

DELWP staff can provide assistance on preparing your application, including about help using the NVIM tool. Contact the native vegetation team directly at nativevegetation.farming@delwp.vic.gov.au

Due to the potential impacts to biodiversity a site assessment is required for all application in the Detailed Assessment Pathway. If your application is in the Detailed Assessment Pathway you need to appoint an accredited native vegetation assessor to complete a site assessment report for your application.

Accredited native vegetation assessors are listed below:

DELWP VQA Competency Register (PDF, 129.5 KB)

Where can I find information about grants and other funding opportunities?

Landcare

Your local Landcare facilitator can provide information about grants and funding opportunities available in your local area.

To locate or find the contacts for a Landcare group or network near you, go to the Victorian Landcare Gateway website. Here, you will also find news from Landcare groups and networks, including up-coming volunteer activities and events, resources for groups and information on grants and projects.

Biodiversity On-ground Action - Community & Volunteer Action Grants

Community & Volunteer Action Grants funding aims to support practical community efforts to deliver conservation projects on public and private land.

The program supports a wide range of projects and activities that help to protect, improve and expand habitats for our native plants and animals. Support is also available for activities that address threats to local biodiversity values and help communities better understand and manage local native species and natural environments.

Further information on all grants programs offered through DELWP is available here.

Supporting documents

Here is a fact sheet with useful information about native vegetation removal in the Farming and Rural Activity Zones.

Native vegetation removal in the Farming and Rural Activity Zones (PDF, 412.5 KB)

If you are preparing an application for a planning permit to remove native vegetation, this applicant’s kit provides useful information and guidance.

Applicant’s guide: applications to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation (PDF, 2.5 MB)

If you would like an accessible version of any published document, please contact nativevegetation.support@delwp.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 24/08/20