The Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) has developed biodiversity information products that are used to measure biodiversity values at a site and across Victoria’s landscape.

Biodiversity information products can be used to understanding the biodiversity value of native vegetation when:

  • undertaking strategic planning for biodiversity protection and management
  • identifying areas to invest in for biodiversity outcomes
  • deciding where to focus efforts to avoid and minimise impacts from the removal of native vegetation
  • assessing impacts when native vegetation is proposed to be removed in accordance with the Guidelines for removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (the Guidelines)
  • determining the improvements to biodiversity delivered by native vegetation offsets

The following document describes DELWP’s systems, tools and maps, and how they are used when applying the Guidelines.

Biodiversity information explanatory document – Measuring value when removing or offsetting native vegetation
(PDF, 2.6 MB)

The native vegetation removal regulations use a range of maps. To access these maps for use with Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) software can be requested by sending an email to data.vsdl@delwp.vic.gov.au

NatureKIt is a tool to display and produce maps of Victoria's biodiversity. It includes the maps that are used in the native vegetation removal regulations.

Habitat importance maps used in the native vegetation removal regulations are developed for species on the threatened species advisory list

The habitat importance map spreadsheet contains a list of the species for which habitat importance maps have been developed.

Habitat importance map spreadsheet (Excel, 185.1 KB)

EnSym NVR tool uses information contained in GIS shapefiles to determine offset requirements for proposals to remove native vegetation, and the offset available at offsets sites.  The tool can also identify areas that could meet offset requirements by generating a map showing locations where a specific set of species can be found, and can be used to calculate potential habitat units of gain available at proposed offset sites.

The EnSym NVR tool can be used by consultants and proponents when planning developments. It generates reports that can be used to test different scenarios or proposals. A final Native vegetation removal report or Native Vegetation offset report must be obtained from DELWP for inclusion in any formal application to remove native vegetation or to establish an offset site. Contact DELWP for more information about this tool.

Once proposals are finalised the GIS shapefile with site assessed condition scores must be submitted to DELWP at EnSymNVRtool.support@delwp.vic.gov.au for processing. The EnSym NVR tool can only process a GIS shapefile that complies with data standards described in the EnSym native vegetation regulation tool spatial data standards.

EnSym native vegetation regulation tool spatial data standards (PDF, 727.1 KB)

Standards for Bioregion and EVC descriptor BioEVC and bioregional conservation status can be met using BIOEVCCODE and BCS1 in the EVC benchmark data spreadsheet.

EVC benchmark data spreadsheet (Excel, 359.3 KB)

Applications to remove native vegetation in the Detailed Assessment Pathway require a site assessment. A site assessment, in accordance with the Guidelines, includes:

  • A habitat hectare assessment of any patches of native vegetation, including the condition, extent (in hectares), EVC and bioregional conservation status
  • The location, number, circumference (in centimetres measured at 1.3 metres above ground level) and species of large trees within patches
  • The location, number, circumference (in centimetres measured at 1.3 metres above ground level) and species of scattered trees, and whether each tree is small or large

A site assessment report must be current and can address large trees as detailed in the Assessor’s handbook.

A site assessment must be completed by an accredited native vegetation assessor. Accredited native vegetation assessors are listed on DELWP’s Vegetation Quality Assessment - List of accredited native vegetation assessors. The following is the list of assessors who are currently accredited. 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 accredited native vegetation assessors (PDF, 172.3 KB)

The Vegetation Quality Assessment (VQA) otherwise known as the habitat hectare assessment method is the standard approach 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 removal regulations.

Accredited native vegetation assessors are listed on DELWP’s Vegetation Quality Assessment - List of accredited native vegetation assessors and have current accreditation (less than two years old at the time the site assessment is completed).

The Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) delivers the VQA competency check 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 VQA competency check is aimed at experienced assessors. It is not suitable for inexperienced assessors. Participants who attend a VQA competency check will have detailed knowledge and experience in conducting habitat hectare assessments.

Successful participants will be registered on DELWP's VQA- List of accredited native vegetation assessors. Competency is valid for 2 years from the date of the field assessment.

Recertification resumed

VQA Competency Checks have resumed for certified assessors who were unable to renew their certification during the period of Covid lockdowns.

When the unpredictability of the timing and length of lockdowns became apparent, the Native Vegetation Regulation team formed the view that all expiring certifications would be extended until there was more certainty around time frames.  In the meantime, some Competency Checks were conducted for new assessors who hadn’t previously been certified.

Throughout this period consideration was given to how the processes for managing Competency Checks could be improved.  DELWP is now able to advise that in future, recertification will remain a requirement every two years, and must be achieved in one of the following methods:

  1. In person method – this is the method previously used by all assessors requiring initial certification and recertification, and it remains an option.  It will continue to feature passing a series of online questions before attending our site in Warrandyte (or other location to be advised) for a refresher session and a practical assessment at the site. This method will be the only option for initial certification.
  2. Remote method for recertification – this new method will not require attendance at the Warrandyte site.  It will be carried out remotely with the aim of reducing the time, travel, cost and administrative burden on assessors who prefer to opt out of the in person method.

Features of the remote method include:

  1. Online multiple-choice questions as per the in person method
  2. An on-ground assessment of a site of your choice (site must meet certain criteria which will be communicated to you) using field assessment sheets that will be provided.
  3. Submission of photos of the site, copies of EVC mapping of the area and EVC benchmarks used, and an EVC map of area with ‘patch size’ as per landscape context section demarked on the map
  4. A 60 min online meeting with DELWP representatives and a group of assessors where the process is explained and each participant reviews a VQA assessment containing mistakes that need to be identified.

How to register for your next VQA Competency Check

As we are commencing the process of re-certifying assessors who have had their certification extended, you are invited to enrol in re-certifying under either the In-person method or the Remote method. Please note that assessors have until September 30 2022 to enrol and nominate their preferred method, after which any extended assessor who has not enrolled will have their extension cancelled.

The following in-person sessions are available for initial certification or recertification (pending sufficient enrolments in each session) held in Warrandyte and run for the full day:

  • August 11, 2022
  • September 2, 2022
  • October 6, 2022
  • November 11, 2022

Additional sessions will be organised as needed.

Note: it may be possible to bring an in-person session to your regional area if numbers permit. Get your group of 10 organised in your nominated regional area and contact habitat.hectare@delwp.vic.gov.au to discuss.

The following 60 min online meeting times are available for the remote recertification method:

  • Friday 5th August 10.00 – 11.00
  • Friday 19th August 10.00 – 11.00
  • Friday 9th September 10.00 – 11.00

Additional sessions will be organised as needed.

To enrol in a recertification session, please email habitat.hectares@delwp.vic.gov.au and specify your preference for a particular ‘remote’ or ‘in-person’ session listed above.  Please note that if you have previously indicated a preferred method but not a particular date, a date is now required.

Please enrol in one of the above sessions by September 30, 2022 to ensure your certification remains current.

To enquire for a competency check session please email habitat.hectares@delwp.vic.gov.au

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

The Native vegetation: sustaining a living landscape. Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual – Guidelines for applying the habitat hectares scoring method, Version 1.3 describes the application of the habitat hectare method (version 1.3) for assessing native vegetation condition.

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 DELWP approved method for assessing native vegetation for regulatory and investment purposes.

Native vegetation: sustaining a living landscape. Vegetation Quality Assessment Manual – Guidelines for applying the habitat hectares scoring method, Version 1.3 (PDF, 3.7 MB)

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

Page last updated: 15/11/22