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Veg Act made easier

THINNING: David Hinz in a forest that could be self-assessed for thinning to the legally required minimum of 200 stems per hectare.
THINNING: David Hinz in a forest that could be self-assessed for thinning to the legally required minimum of 200 stems per hectare. Contributed

ONE of the many problems highlighted by landholders about the past State Government's vegetation management legislation was the difficulty in complying with what were deemed to be overly onerous requirements to be able to manage vegetation.

A change has been made into what Agforce described as a simpler, more user-friendly system, to be put to landholders in a series of meetings, presented throughout Queensland by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

David Hinz explained some of the changes to a group of landholders and said the major change was allowing landholders to self-assess when they planned to clear some areas.

"This process allows a much more normal system of property management for regrowth and weed control to take place," he said. "The onus of proof of vegetation type and status has been reversed."

Mr Hinz said landholders had to notify they would be self assessing, but could continue.

"Most landholders are, and have been, responsible," he said. "The VMA act is still in place and you can't just go out and clear everything."

He said the new rules could be described as responsible management with a low risk outcome.

There would not be a fee to notify of self-assessment.

Mr Hinz said self-assessment had to define required results and achieve a good outcome, both for the environment and productivity.

He added self-assessment guidelines for how to 'value' vegetation were available on the website at http://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au.

Guidelines would include such factors as required density of different age trees that had to be retained and a list of plants that may be in the area, using common names.

They would also include a list of regional ecosystems, along with a short description using the most common vegetation in each system; as well as any areas of concern (eg endangered) to help landholders determine quickly and easily what was on their land.

Mr Hinz advised if any vegetation control work was carried out, to keep records with photos of what was done, to help justify the work, if needed.

"It is also a good idea to define the area in which the work is to be done," he said.

Mr Hinz said leasehold land had other requirements, such as notifying forestry, which owned the timber, if clearing was to take place. He said clearing regrowth, remnant etc was not "open slather" but that the rules had been made considerably easier.

"If in doubt, contact Agforce or (Department of Natural Resources and Mines)," Mr Hinz said.

"There can still be penalties if the wrong thing is done, so make sure you are right."

Topics:  environment native vegetation conservation act