26 September 2023

Land report finds space for improvement

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The Natural Resources Commission has released its final report into the 2017 Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation reform package, finding that strategic coordination among Agencies needed to improve.

The Commission said its report, Land management and biodiversity conservation reforms, provided the NSW Government with a suite of recommendations to strengthen management and conservation outcomes.

“The Commission found that two of the six core policies within the reform; a publicly available Native Vegetation Regulatory Map…and a coordinated, reform-specific monitoring, evaluation and reporting program, were yet to be implemented,” it said.

“In 2018/19, over 37,000 hectares were approved to be cleared (excluding clearing for invasive native species).

“This is around 13 times the annual average rate of approval pre-reform.”

The Commission said available data suggested that there was a major risk from unexplained clearing.

“The strategic coordination among agencies can be improved and requires independent oversight and the building of a collaborative culture and trust between agencies,” it said.

It made the three key recommendations, including that the State Government replace the existing policy review trigger with immediate implementation of the Commission’s proposed trigger framework and the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment implement a staged release of the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map.

The Commission also recommended the Government strengthen compliance framework by reviewing the roles, responsibilities and resourcing for monitoring and enforcing compliance with certifications and notifications to clear and set aside land; develop clear processes to monitor and report on compliance; and develop processes to ensure six monthly monitoring and reporting of unexplained clearing as part of the trigger framework.

The 72-page report as well as the Governments response can be accessed via this PS News link.

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