Ecology | Environment | Heritage

Queensland vegetation reforms – for better or worse?

« News 
19 December 2013

vegetation reforms

Depending on your business, the latest vegetation management reforms in Queensland could be the answer you have been looking for, or for some, just another distraction to getting on with sustainable land management.

Recently, Redleaf Environmental staff attended a forum by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) which provided information and updates to the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VM Act). In this presentation, the DNRM explained several key changes to the way land clearing is regulated in Queensland.

Contact our experienced scientists today to find out how these changes may affect your business.

Darren      0407 234 986
Bruce        0407 128 139

The primary areas of change are:

Three new clearing purposes:

  • clearing for high value agriculture (establish, cultivate and harvest crops – excludes grazing or plantation forestry)
  • irrigated high value agriculture (to cultivate and harvest crops, or pasture, requires demonstrated access to water supply)
  • clearing for environmental purposes (e.g., thinning, rehabilitation from invasive weeds)

New exemptions:

  • geotechnical works and land survey works
  • response to natural disaster events
  • remediation of contaminated land
  • rehabilitation of abandoned mines
  • community infrastructure

Regrowth reforms

  • high-value regrowth (HVR) is now “non-assessable” (Category X on the new maps) for freehold and indigenous tenures

Self-assessable codes

  • Several self-assessable codes have been modified along with some that are being drafted after public consultation in 2014


  • New mapping with a clear depiction of the vegetation categories:

Category A – Offsets, Voluntary declarations, compliance etc

Category B – Remnant vegetation (assessable)

Category C – Regrowth on leasehold land

Category R – Reef watercourse regrowth

Category X – non-assessable

New State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP) Module 8

  • Offsets are an acceptable outcome for most values
  • Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is developing a whole of government environmental offsets framework

SP Regulation amendments to reflect some of these changes

Development approvals

If clearing cannot be conducted under an exemption, self-assessable code or area management plan, you may be able to apply for a development approval, which will be assessed through the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA).

This raft of changes, however, still requires some interpretation depending on your particular circumstances. For example, the changes can mean certainty for freehold landholders in the Category X mapped zones (the ‘white’ area on the maps) where high priority regrowth no longer requires a permit to clear. However, the high priority regrowth protections remain in place for leasehold lands. The designated ‘community infrastructure’ is up for interpretation under the SP Act and you will only know if it applies after you have asked the question through an assessment process.

A note of caution is that although there are significant changes to the VM Act, all landholders (private, corporate or local governments) are required to ensure that they comply with other legislation relating to listed fauna and flora species, habitats and threatened ecological communities such as brigalow and weeping myall vegetation. These values may occur in the white area (Category X) and are regulated under different acts – Nature Conservation Act 1992 (State) and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC, Commonwealth). You will also need to consider provisions under the Water Act 2000 for activities in the bed and banks of a watercourse.

Contact our experienced scientists today to find out how these changes may affect your business.

Darren      0407 234 986
Bruce        0407 128 139

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