Native Vegetation

What is native vegetation?

The term ‘native vegetation’ refers to trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses that have grown naturally in Victoria prior to European arrival. It does not include plants that originate from other parts of Australia or from other countries. Victoria has a wide range of vegetation types, including alpine meadows, mallee, grasslands, grassy woodlands, forests, heathlands, wetlands and coastal scrub.  Some of Victoria’s plants are endemic to the state, which means they are found nowhere else in the world.

Why is native vegetation important?

  • Provides habitat for plants and animals
  • Prevents land degradation, such as salinity and erosion
  • Minimises impacts of climate change
  • Maintains long-term productive capacity of land
  • Provides shade and shelter on farms, improving crop and stock productivity
  • Protects water quality
  • Provides opportunities for future use of genetic resources
  • Maintains our distinctive Australian landscape

Native vegetation planning and management

Historically, a vast amount of native vegetation has been cleared in the Goulburn Broken Catchment for the agricultural and timber industries. Today, only 30% of the pre-European coverage remains. The Victorian Government has developed a Native Vegetation Management Framework to conserve, enhance and revegetate Victoria's native vegetation.

The framework has three guiding principles:

  1. Retention and management of remnant native vegetation is the best way to conserve biodiversity
  2. Conservation of native vegetation and habitat depends on the maintenance of catchment processes
  3. Costs should be shared equitably based on benefits to the landholder, community and region

A landscape approach to planning native vegetation management is required and priorities should be based on bioregions within Catchment Management Authority regions.

Biogeographic regions (or Bioregions) depict the patterns of ecological characteristics in the landscape and are the basis for planning and managing biodiversity in Victoria. Bioregions are the basis from which the conservation status of Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) and priorities for managing threatened species are determined. EVCs are units that describe and map the local patterns of vegetation diversity. EVCs represent one or more plant communities that occur in a similar environmental niche (e.g. geology, soil, aspect, rainfall). The conservation status of remaining patches of EVCs is determined for each bioregion.

Also of consideration when planning for planting is the Country Fire Authority’s Landscaping for Bushfire document. This is a valuable resource for architects, developers, nursery owners and home gardeners while planning to minimise risk to the defendable space around a house.

If you are required to provide a Landscape Plan as a part of a permit application, you can find example templates and a minimum requirement document here [LINK to form on planning page].

Removing native vegetation

Landowners must contact Council before removing native vegetation (including trees, grasses and shrubs) to determine if a planning permit is required. The need for a planning permit is determined by the Native Vegetation Management Framework and the local Planning Scheme.

In applying the Framework, there are three key steps for land managers and owners to address when considering vegetation removal:

  1. Avoid adverse impacts, particularly through vegetation clearance;
  2. If impacts cannot be avoided, minimise impacts by careful planning, design and management; and;
  3. If clearing must occur, the clearing must be offset

If a planning permit is required this three-step approach is an integral part of the decision making process relating to the permit. Offsets are determined by the conservation status of the Ecological Vegetation Class the vegetation proposed for removal represents.

For further information please contact Council's Environment Officer on 03 5775 8555.

Planting native vegetation

Broad-scale clearing that has historically occurred for economic development has caused environmental problems such as stressed ecosystems, salinity, poor water quality in streams and rivers and reduced populations of native animals, many to the point of extinction. To help combat this, individuals, organisations and regulatory authorities can revegetate areas of cleared land with native vegetation.

When planning for landscaping consider native species that naturally grow in your area; they will thrive with less maintenance and provide a habitat for native animals. The next best option may be to consider vegetation native to Victoria in general.

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority has developed a Revegetation Guide that lists native vegetation specific to the Mansfield Shire. It is a useful resource that assists with what species to plant and how to most successfully revegetate land.

For more specific localised knowledge of native vegetation contact your local Landcare group.

Native vegetation contacts

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
North East Regional Office
86 Sydney Road
Benalla Vic 3672
03) 5761 1611

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority
Head Office
168 Welsford Street
PO Box 1752
Shepparton Vic 3632
03) 5820 1100

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 February, 2021 - 21:09