Mixed feelings for new native vegetation application system

ONLINE PORTAL: Farmer Peter Kuhlmann sees the benefit of the new system.
ONLINE PORTAL: Farmer Peter Kuhlmann sees the benefit of the new system.

Applications to clear native vegetation have moved to an online portal aimed to be simpler and quicker but  there are mixed feelings locally about its suitability.

The changes include a new online application and decision-making portal, allowing users to self-assess whether an application is required.

Users can visually map and submit a proposed clearance online, helping speed up the approvals process and where an activity requires notification, users can to submit this directly via the portal.

The changes also create South Australia’s first environmental credit and trade market, offering more options for landholders needing environmental offsets.

Native Vegetation Council presiding member Emily Jenke said the changes aimed to strike the right balance between protecting native vegetation while helping landholders go about their everyday activities.

“From creating shelter for stock and improving soil stability and nutrition, to providing a home for our native animals and cooling our urban areas, our native vegetation is integral to the wellbeing of all South Australians,” Ms Jenke said.

“This initiative will provide the ability for landholders to establish a credit ‘bank’ for others to access (and) will provide new income to help manage and improve their native vegetation.”

To support the rollout of the changes, an additional 500 people across industry and government have been trained in providing advice and assessing the quality of native vegetation.

Mudamuckla farmer Peter Kuhlmann could see the benefit of the online portal.

“It would have all the information in one place, which would be a help and this would help speed things up.”

Warren Beattie, who farms near Ceduna, said he would prefer human interaction.

“I would rather speak to somebody who I can ask questions to about what I am doing,” he said.

“There are some older farmers who don’t know how to use a computer or own one and people are time-poor so don’t have time to find things like this online these days.”

The system is a result of a package of reforms undertaken by the Native Vegetation Council under the Native Vegetation Regulations 2017.

For more information, visit www.environment.sa.gov.au/managing-natural-resources/native-vegetation.

Landholders with specific native vegetation queries are encouraged to visit their local Natural Resources Centre.