NATIVE VEGETATION REMOVAL IS ASSESSED UNDER THREE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES:
NATIVE VEGETATION – BASIC OR INTERMEDIATE ASSESSMENTS – processed by your Local Council:
For a small amount of vegetation being cleared, usually this is assessed under a Basic Risk Vegetation assessment – this may be part of a vegetation clearing permit that has been issued by council.
To determine what the offset amount:
- The area is first mapped using a Native Vegetation Information Management System Tool (NVIM) to determine the net loss amount (See web link below). From drawing the area of loss on your map, a NVIM report will be produced – telling the landholder what the Offset requirements are.
- The next step is determine what Offset option you will require. You have two choices: First party Offset (offset an area of native vegetation and permanently protect it on your own property) or purchase the Offset amount (outlined in your NVIM report) from a Third party Broker.
- If you decide to offset the vegetation loss on your property, you will need to contact an Accredited Offset site assessors. A list of assessors are available from the DELWP website.
- To determine whether your property requires a Basic, Intermediate or Detailed assessment – you will need to check by using the Native Vegetation Information Management System (NVIM) website: https://nvim.delwp.vic.gov.au
- Please note that sometimes a small vegetation loss area may fall into a Detailed risk category – this may be caused by the presence of a Vulnerable, Rare or Threatened Species (VROT) of plant or animal located near or on the site. If this happens, then a Detailed Risk assessment is unavoidable.
DETAILED RISK ASSESSMENTS – processed through Department of Environment, Land and Water (DELWP):
If the overall vegetation loss area on a property falls within the Detailed Risk classification, then it is recommended that you seek advice from an Environmental Consultant.
- To work out the net loss of a Detailed risk site, the consultant will need to map the area of your vegetation loss site (using a GPS) and conduct a Habitat Hectare Assessment to determine it’s vegetation condition score.
- The consultant will then create a Geographic Information System (GIS) shape file which contains the size of the site and it’s Vegetation condition and submit this to DELWP in melbourne, to determine the Offset amount.
- Again the landholder has two options – Offset an area on their own property or pay a broker to Offset the amount of area lost.
- If the landholder decides to Offset on their own property, then this will require an Accredited Offset Assessor (listed on the DELWP website) to determine if you have the adequate area to create an Offset for your native vegetation loss.
Jennifer Johnson works with Central Highlands Environmental Consultancy and is an accredited Habitat Hectare assessor and is capable of providing this service. The DELWP website lists all the current Accredited Habitat Hectare Assessors: https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/48537/DELWP-VQA-AccreditedAssessorListDecember2018_20181220.pdf
PLACING AN OFFSET ON YOUR OWN PROPERTY (First Party Offset)
Before considering putting an offset on your property – first you need to have enough space in which to locate it. Please note that under CFA regulations, an offset should be no closer than 150 metres from a proposed dwelling and any other adjacent dwellings. The reason for this is due to the fact that an Offset contains fuel that can affect a bushfires behaviour. It is generally not a good idea to have an area with a ready source of fuel so close to your home or other nearby dwellings. Your defendable space cannot enter into the area of the offset or vice versa as the Defendable zone is identified for fuel management and an offset’s purpose is to preserve biodiversity.
- Generally we would recommend that landholders only seriously consider placing an offset on properties that are 8 hectares or larger.
So before considering if you need an offset assessment undertaken –
- First measure the distance from the house (and other adjacent houses) to the offset site and make sure it’s at least 150 metres away from any dwelling,
- Second determine how many hectares of native vegetation you have available. The better the quality of the vegetation, the less offset you will generally need.
If there is enough offset available, you will be expected to manage it for the next 10 years and you will need to develop a plan to do so.
TABLE OF PATHWAY ASSESSMENTS
PRELIMINARY OFFSET ASSESSMENTS
Our consultancy is not accredited to assess and register Offsets, but we are happy to provide a service, where we can conduct a habitat hectare as well as a fauna survey on a potential offset site – recording information about it, so our report can be provided to an Accredited Offset Assessor, who will conduct an official survey and can register it.
Why do this? Some landholders maybe unsure to whether it is worthwhile or not to register an Offset on their property and may want an independent consultant to provide advice on whether to get a Broker in and if the Offset may be valuable. This may save landholders money long term, as Offsets can be an expensive option and it allows them to decide if it is financial viable.