A variety of national programs and policies deal with or have ramifications
for native vegetation management. These have generally been brought together
through the National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia's
Native Vegetation, released in December 2001. However, national goals of
reversing the decline in the quality and extent of Australia's native
vegetation have not been reached.
What constitutes a landholder duty of care in relation to native vegetation
is problematic and yet to be resolved by the community. The issue of duty of
care and landholder property rights is discussed.
The vegetation of New South Wales includes major examples of a broad range
of plant communities. Eastern areas of the State are dominated by eucalypt open
forests, and towards the western area landscapes are dominated by acacia
shrublands and chenopod and samphire shrublands. Eucalypt woodlands occur
throughout the State, whilst grasslands are widespread throughout central and
eastern New South Wales. The main causes of decline and change to native
vegetation since European settlement have been: clearing for cropping and
grazing by stock; grazing by feral animals; logging; weed invasion; mining;
soil degradation through compaction; salinisation and acidification; and
pollution. The least disturbed ecosystems in the State are on the eastern
escarpment and on the poorer soils on the coast. Most of the vegetation west of
the escarpment has been subject to intensive grazing by stock, feral animals
and elevated numbers of macropods for over 100 years. This has altered the
structure and biomass of the vegetation, with significant changes to the
understorey and little regeneration of palatable species.
The following key programs aim to promote native vegetation conservation in
NSW: monitoring and controlling land clearing through the Native Vegetation
Conservation Act 1997; implementing bioregional conservation assessment and
planning as the basis for biodiversity management; establishing a
comprehensive, adequate and representative forest reserve system; and providing
opportunities and incentives for the community to conserve biodiversity. The
Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 is described in detail, followed
by a report on land clearing by the NSW Auditor-General.
Native vegetation management in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and
Western Australia is discussed. It is apparent that the native vegetation
regulatory environment is undergoing a period of rapid change.