The VFF supports the balance of native flora and fauna in the natural environment and across farm productivity.
The VFF’s position is to recognise that a husbandry (a cross-disciplinary method to improved land management that involves social, economic and agro-ecological aspects) approach to native vegetation with cost shared across the community is the only way that a reversal of the current decline will occur.
In contrast, the VFF believes the state government Native Vegetation guidelines are costly and complicated, and clearing permit requirements do not recognise on-farm efforts to protect the environment.
The VFF seeks a regulatory framework that:
Recognises farm land clearing in exchange for a commitment to provide offsets – a native vegetation offset consists of a site that protects existing patches of native vegetation and/or involves planting of new native vegetation
- Encourages good faith in land care on the premise that farmers are custodians of the land
- Exempt farmers from the same cost structure that developers of urban areas face
- Seek framework acknowledgement of existing land uses rather than biodiversity management.
In its submission to the government on the draft regulations, the VFF stated: “The current focus of the native vegetation guidelines is a short-term approach that focuses on the here and now, rather than what Victoria’s landscape will look like in 50 or 100 years’ time.
“Putting insurmountable barriers in place to protect paddock trees and other remnant vegetation is simply short-term conservation of an asset in decline.”
Victoria’s native trees are forest trees and as such are prone to decline as isolated paddock trees. Therefore a simplified native vegetative framework that recognises the value of offsets will create bio-diverse habitats with renewed vegetation.
A Simplified Native Vegetation Framework
A simpler system that allows removal of native vegetation without a complex calculation of biodiversity equivalence is required if a broad based non targeting control is to remain. Applying a simple ration of 1:3 or 1:5 would allow farmers to proactively manage their land, without the time and financial burden of applying for a permit. This biodiversity approach would allow revegetation that provides future habitat linkages located in areas that will be sustainable in the long term.
Isolated paddock trees are a big issue for farmers. Whilst old trees provide native habitat diversity, they also pose significant risk (operator safety) and reduce automation competitiveness by limiting the ability to utilise driverless/GPS technology, along with lower productivity due to soil moisture availability.
“Put simply, if farmers do not plant new trees (and create offsets), there will only be old trees, and at some point there will be only dead trees.”