GOULBURN Broken CMA is reminding people that accepting offers from businesses advertising ‘‘cheap block clearing’’ without the correct permits can lead to prosecution and hefty fines.
‘‘Unfortunately we have seen a spike in ads offering cheap clearing or free removal of alive or dead trees recently,’’ Goulburn Broken CMA’s Rebecca Caldwell said.
‘‘Many residents and councils are concerned about the impact of this illegal clearing on the region’s biodiversity, water quality and liveability.’’
Ms Caldwell said native vegetation provided habitat for wildlife, including hollows that developed in old trees, and delivered a range of ecosystem services, such as shade and shelter for stock and erosion control, which made land more productive.
‘‘The region’s native vegetation is also why this area is such a great place to live and work,’’’ she said.
‘‘Nature-based tourism is an increasingly important part of the regional economy so it’s critical we look after the landscape and waterways to support local jobs and businesses.’’
Under the Victorian Planning and Environment Act 1987, accepting tree-clearing offers from businesses without the required permits can lead to legal prosecution for the people undertaking the works as well as the property owner.
Late last year a High Country operation was ordered to pay costs of $300,000 and undertake native vegetation works after illegally clearing more than 70ha.
Ms Caldwell urged people to discuss proposed works with their local council or DELWP office.
They can also check the guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation before signing up for any ‘‘tree clearing’’ deals.
The guidelines outline the process to apply for removal of native vegetation where you can show there is no other alternative.
The guidelines can be found at bit.ly/2hkroLK