Help protect wildlife habitat during Biodiversity Month

Victorians are reminded to seek advice before removing native plants from private or public land in order to protect the environment, protect cultural heritage and avoid significant penalties.

Less than 50 percent of Victoria’s original native vegetation – trees, shrubs and grasses – remain and play important roles in our ecosystems, including a vital habitat for native wildlife.

Several cases of illegal clearing of native vegetation this year have resulted in convictions and fines:

* Two men have been convicted and fined $25,000 each for destroying more than eight acres of wildlife habitat on public lands near Mildura, following a wildlife agency investigation.

* A farmer has been convicted and ordered to pay nearly $60,000 following a conservation agency investigation for felling dozens of mature eucalyptus trees in the Annya State Forest near Heywood.

* A Peterborough property owner was ordered to plant and maintain at his own expense ten times the amount of native vegetation cleared on his private property (12.5 ha) and pay Moyne Shire Council $20,000 in costs after he had illegally cleared native vegetation on his property.

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Acting Chief Conservation Regulator Wayne Robins urged people to think twice about removing native plants during Biodiversity Month.

“Biodiversity Month is a great reminder for all of us to prioritize the preservation of native vegetation so we can protect important wildlife habitats and our unique flora. It is up to landowners to understand the rules for clearing vegetation on private land and if in doubt, check with your local government,” he said.

Native plants can be difficult to identify, so landowners should seek advice from their local council or the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Unless a valid exemption applies, a permit is required in Victoria to remove, destroy or fell native vegetation, including paddock trees, grasslands, wetlands, riparian areas and all native plants in state forests, national parks and reserves. This includes trees along fence lines between private and public land.

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Removal of native vegetation that affects mature trees and/or their branches can also damage Aboriginal stigmata trees. These activities may trigger requirements under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 before any work can be undertaken, so it is important to understand your obligations to ensure compliance.

In Victoria, all Aboriginal sites, objects and remains are protected. It is against the law to disturb or destroy an Aboriginal site without proper permission. If you think you have found Aboriginal heritage or would like to discuss your proposed works, please contact your relevant registered Aboriginal party (if one has been appointed) or First Peoples-State Relations on 1800 762 003.

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To avoid a fine, apply for a permit to remove native plants or report suspected illegal removal. Contact the municipal administration on 136 186 for questions about private property or DELWP for questions about public land.

To find out more visit:

Quotes attributed to James Todd, Chief Biodiversity Officer of DELWP

“Native vegetation on private land supports up to 30 percent of Victoria’s threatened species. Many species depend on private land habitat for their continued survival. Preserving and enhancing native vegetation and habitat on private property is important to enable our natural environment to adapt to climate change.”