Western Australia is entering a new era of improved protection and management of our State’s unique native vegetation with the release of WA’s first Native Vegetation Policy.
The policy is the next step in the McGowan Government’s commitment to protect and enhance native vegetation, which will have a flow-on effect to create employment, support Aboriginal connection to country and bolster regional prosperity, while sequestering carbon and protecting biodiversity – all geared towards ensuring the sustainable future of our State.
Climate change poses a major risk to the health of native vegetation, but native vegetation can help mitigate global climate change by sequestering carbon. The new policy aims for a net gain in native vegetation.
Across the State, native vegetation is declining through clearing or degradation over time, and its management is highly decentralised across more than 15 pieces of legislation which each have different purposes and objectives. The new policy will adopt a whole-of-government approach to address this.
The policy’s implementation roadmap sets out the actions the McGowan Government will take over the next four years. Some key actions include:
- regional planning for native vegetation for certainty and to address cumulative impacts, with an initial focus on the Wheatbelt;
- a new mapping and monitoring system to track changes in native vegetation cover; and
- identifying reform opportunities to support a net gain, including around the delivery of offsets.
Consultation will play an ongoing role in the policy’s implementation, so that native vegetation is managed to protect and enhance biodiversity while also providing other benefits stakeholders are seeking. Examples include regional and Aboriginal jobs, business certainty for regulated stakeholders, productive landscapes, cool and livable cities, and community wellbeing.
$3.3 million has been allocated to support the policy’s first two years of implementation. Progress in the first two years, and its findings, will inform how it will be resourced into the future.
The final Native Vegetation Policy for Western Australia reflects feedback from more than 1,000 participants during consultation periods on an issues paper in 2020 and a draft policy in 2021.
As stated by Environment Minister Reece Whitby:
“Since European settlement, Western Australia has experienced ongoing loss and degradation of native vegetation, resulting in impacts to biodiversity along with costly damage to our landscapes such as salinity, erosion, and the loss of urban tree canopy. In some areas, what remains is rare, significant, and fragmented, and under threat from climate change.
“Native vegetation helps mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon. This policy seeks to achieve a net gain in native vegetation, while providing regulatory clarity for business, and building a strong, accessible evidence base for policymaking, decisions, and transparency.
“I look forward to the implementation of this policy and to ongoing and emerging partnerships to support sustainable management of Western Australia’s native vegetation now and into the future.”