Media release

Statewide call to save our precious wildlife habitats

Release: 3 April 2012

Community discussion needed on Government Native Vegetation Rules Review

More than 36 national, state, regional and local environment and conservation groups representing thousands of Victorians have called on the Baillieu Government to undertake an extensive and open consultation process in a proposed review of native vegetation rules.

In a joint statement released today by the 36 groups Executive Director of the Victorian National Parks Association Matt Ruchel said, “Native vegetation rules are the cornerstone of efforts to protect our native habitat and wildlife on private land and are too important to be changed behind closed doors.”
 
The call comes following confirmation in March that the government was undertaking a review of the rules, but no formal policy, scope or consultation process had been announced.
 
“Victoria's native vegetation retention laws have been developed and refined over many years under successive governments," said Brendan Sydes, Chief Executive Officer of the Environment Defenders Office. "Victoria's native vegetation laws are the only Victorian laws that protect plant and animal habitat on private land in Victoria.  It’s important that this protection is not undermined by winding back these laws." 

“Victoria is the most cleared and ecologically stressed state in Australia and while we have slowed the loss of habitat, we are still losing thousands of hectares of trees and grassland habitat every year. Native Vegetation rules are critical to reversing the decline,” said Charlie Sherwin, Conservation Manager for Birdlife Australia.
 
“Many of the signatory groups are involved in tree planting and restoration of bushland to address the clearing of the past, and we do not want the regulatory 'rug” pulled out from under community volunteers,” said Andrew Bradey, President of the Environmental Farmers Network.
 
“We need good input from scientists and community groups, as well as the people on the ground to develop regulations which are effective, efficient and most of all deliver real improvements for our stressed-out native plants and animals,” said Karen Alexander, president of John’s Hill Landcare in Emerald.
 
Groups also called for key elements of the existing framework to be retained, such as the overarching Net Gain policy, originally introduced by the Kennett Government in the late 1990s.
 
Groups also questioned inflated compliance figures of $395 million per year put forward by vested interests when a recent 2010 Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission review cited costs as only $41 million per year and recommended establishment of a new independent native vegetation regulator (see VNPA issues paper for more information).
 
“Victorians have a right to be concerned about the Baillieu Government’s policies on conservation given its track record so far. Let’s hope the state’s fragile and diminishing native vegetation isn’t the next victim,” said Mark Wakeham, Campaigns Director for Environment Victoria.
 
For further comment contact:
Matt Ruchel, Executive Director, VNPA – 0418 357 813 (Tuesday only)
Charlie Sherwin– Birdlife Australia – 0431 004 702
Brendan Sydes, EDO CEO – 0439 355 747.
Karen Alexander, President John’s Hill Landcare (Emerald) – 0439 306 829
Andrew Bradey, Environmental Farmers Network – (via Ian Kenins, Media Officer - 0417 561 563)
> Download the Joint Statement
> More information on habitat trends in Victoria
 
Signatories (in alphabetical order)
Australian Plants Society; Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc; BEAM Mitchell Environment Group Inc; Bird Life Australia; Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society; Cardinia Environment Coalition Inc; Croydon Conservation Society; Dandenong Valley Bushwalking Club; Darebin Parklands Association; Environment Defenders Office; Enviro West; Environment East Gippsland; Environment Victoria; Environmental Farmers Network; Friends of Inverleigh fauna and flora reserve; Friends of Merri Creek; Friends of the Earth; Friends Of the Grampians Gariwerd; Friends of Warrandyte State Park; Geelong Environment Council; Greening of Riddell; Goulburn Valley Environment Group; Hamilton Field Naturalists' Club; Kowree Farm Tree; National Trust Victoria; Peninsula Field Naturalists Club Inc; Phillip Island Conservation Society; The Bendigo and District Environmental Council; The Wilderness Society; Victorian National Parks Association; Warringal Conservation Society; Western Melbourne Catchments Network; Wombat Forestcare; Johns Hill Landcare; Riddells Creek Landcare; Knox Environment Society.

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