Vegetation Management

Baseline Area Management Plan

Policy Position (Endorsed August 2017)

AgForce endorses the following policy positions relating to Vegetation Management:
  1. The Baseline Area Management (BAMP) policy
  2. Using a bipartisan approach to get the Queensland government to adopt the BAMP.
The Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VMA), despite its title, was introduced to Queensland to stop broad-scale tree clearing. The VMA has not been well received, nor has it been a useful tool to assist landholders to manage vegetation with the flow on effects of managing soil, land and production.

The VMA has frequently been manipulated politically with 38 amendments since introduction. The lack of a bi-partisan political approach to vegetation management has confused and frustrated landholders and regional departmental staff to the marked detriment of good long-term land management, biodiversity stability, trust and proactive relationships between landholders and the State, political cohesion, and ultimately, primary production.

For a long time AgForce has sought an outcome focused, landscape-scale approach to vegetation management. This approach would provide greater certainty to land managers who would be able to manage their land to achieve an acceptable environmental outcome whilst maintaining a productive and profitable balance within the property.

Being able to demonstrate that they are managing vegetation to an agreed outcome, land managers would cease being targets for politically motivated changes to the prescriptive legislation and regulation that currently governs land management.

The Productivity Commission has recognised* that farmers are important environmental managers and, rather than inflexibly imposing unnecessary regulatory costs as currently occurs, governments should take a whole of landscape approach, work with farmers and even pay them for the public good environmental services they provide.

What the industry needs
A BASE LINE AREA MANAGEMENT PLAN (BAMP) is a plan to manage vegetation on a landscape scale having defined the outcome of the management activity, prior to the plan being initiated.

The BAMP has two components:
  1. A PMAV (Property Map of Assessable Vegetation) based on using historical or contemporary evidence-based data, such as explorer and early settler diaries, photographs, and satellite imagery, to redraw Regional Ecosystem (RE) maps and Regulated Vegetation Management maps. This PMAV defines the outcome of vegetation management activity.
  2. An AMP (Area Management Plan) that sets out how vegetation management activity will be conducted.
A BAMP is in place for an initial ten years, is attached to the title of the land, but can be changed through the Development Application process.

The BAMP is a proactive way to manage vegetation in this State that will lead to the betterment of both the environment and the productive base.

The major benefit of a BAMP is that it is based on an agreed vegetation outcome between the State and the Landholder – the PMAV, and an agreed vegetation management process between the State and the Landholder – the AMP. Furthermore, if negotiations are conducted in good faith; are tailored to landholder-specific needs; seek a sustainable balance of good environmental outcomes and production goals; and a growing sense of trust between the landholder and State can develop.

The BAMP system has the capability for landholders to invest both their environmental credentials and their production orientated land management credentials in their land.

The BAMP system has the capacity for the Government to know the outcome of vegetation management activity in the State, bringing trust, confidence and administrative savings, while maintaining environmental integrity and moving agricultural production forward to the prosperity of all.

*Productivity Commission, 2016. Regulation of Australian Agriculture Inquiry report. No. 79, 15 November 2016.

Other relevant information

Further information on AgForce’s vegetation policy can be seen by logging in to the Members Only section to the top right of the screen.

High Value Agriculture/Irrigated High Value Agriculture

Policy Position (Endorsed May 2017)

AgForce supports High Value Agriculture (HVA) and Irrigated HVA (IHVA) as a much needed social and economic opportunity for agricultural industry and indigenous and rural communities in Queensland. Careful planning and management is needed to balance production, economic and other desirable outcomes. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate their proposal represents – the right land use, the right landscape and the right design. HVA/IHVA provisions should include clearing vegetation for improved pasture as an acceptable practice. Applications should be assessed in a transparent and timely manner with decision review and appeal rights provided.

With only four of 21 applications approved in the last two years, AgForce seeks clear criteria and processes for applicants to work with, and an appropriate right of appeal if permits are not issued despite criteria being met.

Additionally, the government is under continuing pressure to amend vegetation laws by extreme conservation groups to remove High Value Agriculture/Irrigated High Value Agriculture (HVA/IHVA) provisions within the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VMA).

Since its original introduction on 2 December 2013 there has been resistance to HVA development from a sector of the community largely due to their inherent opposition to vegetation clearing of any description. There is particular concern around clearing of remnant vegetation and the perceived impacts this will have on alleged threatened or endangered Regional Ecosystems, especially in areas of Queensland where the dominant agricultural land use is grazing.

AgForce is also aware of issues with members who have not received an s22A determination, under the VMA, that the proposed clearing meets the requirements for HVA/IHVA clearing. Despite following all criteria in the HVA/IHVA guidelines, some members have been refused a positive s22A determination and not been provided with an information notice, leaving them with no recourse to an internal review.

Applications are being held up with seemingly endless information requests, despite the fact that many professionals involved in the application process are satisfied the government has adequate information to enable assessment against existing guidelines. There is no transparent and inclusive process to adapt the regulations (and possibly legislation) that will result in workable solutions to enable applicants to comply with the guidelines.

AgForce maintains that High Value Agriculture/Irrigated High Value Agriculture (HVA/IHVA) development in its existing form presents a much needed social and economic opportunity for the agricultural industry in Queensland. It also has positive flow-on effects for rural communities and contributes strongly to building wealth for our state and nation.

However, some restrictions imposed by the HVA/IHVA framework contrast with the original intent of HVA/IHVA; to enable the growth of existing rural businesses to support the development of agriculture as an efficient, innovative, resilient, and profitable sector in the state economy.

HVA/IHVA was also intended as a safeguard for mitigating against drought and protein deficiencies in wet season conditions, particularly in northern Queensland. The current scope of HVA/IHVA provisions do not include clearing vegetation for improved pasture as an acceptable practice.

The practice of developing improved pastures has been carried out in Australia since European settlement and has resulted in the establishment of a thriving grazing industry across the state.

This is all outlined in our State Election 2017 ‘Healthy Environment, Healthy Agriculture’ Policy Proposal.

Other relevant information

Further information on AgForce’s vegetation policy can be seen below after logging into the Members Only section to the top right of the screen.

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