A primer on managing native vegetation

It is important to understand the native vegetation on your property and its place in the landscape and within ecosystems. Start by learning what existing plant species you have on your property, what you could plant for various purposes, how you could help conserve remnant vegetation and your options for managing native vegetation, including clearing for increased production or efficiency.

Remnant native vegetation

Remnant native vegetation is vegetation indigenous to the local area, including forests, woodlands and native grasslands. Over the past two centuries, much of the original native vegetation across NSW has been cleared for agriculture and other land uses.

An absense of native vegetation can result in problems such as

  • soil erosion
  • poor soil structure
  • weed invasion
  • salinity
  • reduced water quality
  • loss of biodiversity.

As a general rule, any patch of native vegetation is valuable. Across a rural residential development or farm, a minimum of 30 per cent cover of native vegetation will help productivity and maintain ecosystems.

Plants for your property

Trees and other native plants can enhance the value of your farm and increase productivity by providing shade and shelter for stock, windbreaks for crops and pasture, habitat for native wildlife and by stabilising soils to reduce erosion. By planting species that are local to your area, you can help to increase the amount of habitat available for native species as well as using species that already adapted to your local environment.

The soils, rainfall, temperature and weather can vary remarkably across the entire region, and some species are better suited to particular sites than others.

Plants for wastewater management areas

Planting lawns and shallow rooted plants and grasses around an wastewater disposal area will greatly increase the system’s efficiency. A variety of native species can be used for wastewater disposal systems, however some will not cope with the high nutrient levels. See more on landscaping around wastewater management areas on page 35.

Benefits of native vegetation

Consider maintaining your remnant woodland or forest, isolated paddock trees and native grasslands on your property. Native vegetation can:

  • provide groundcover to stabilise soil
  • help prevent sediment entering waterways
  • provide shelter and feed for livestock
  • protect against drying winds
  • moderate temperature extremes
  • provide habitat for a range of native wildlife—when it adjoins neighbouring native vegetation, it can be a safe corridor for animals to travel through
  • reduce the spread of windblown weed seeds
  • protect an area from rising water tables and salinity
  • create a beautiful landscape.

Ways to look after native vegetation:

  • fence remnant vegetation areas with fauna friendly fencing to protect them from grazing livestock
  • avoid fragmenting existing areas of native vegetation, including remnant grasslands
  • if you build new fence lines, roads or services, construct them around areas of native vegetation rather than through them (see more wildlife friendly fencing tips on page 27)
  • ensure that plant species are correctly identified when spraying weeds (many native grasses such as Poa Tussock are easily confused with noxious weeds such as Serrated Tussock)
  • set aside parts of your property for revegetation by natural regeneration from regrowth or seed.

When planning a re-planting program, try to:

  • source native seed wherever possible
  • use plants that have been grown locally to ensure they acclimatise to local conditions
  • choose species that reflect the vegetation community or communities at the site
  • plant during the season you are most likely to get reliable rainfall
  • collect and propagate seed from your property—Landcare can advise on the method.

What plants grow where you live?

If you want to find out find out which plants suit where you live, you have a few options:

Interested in conservation?

If you want to find out more about support for conservation, see if there are any incentive programs available through your Local Land Services. The types, eligibility and timeframes vary from region to region. We can also give you advice on native vegetation management specific to your property.

There are also a number of types of private land conservation agreements available through the Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

Managing native vegetation

In NSW there are a range of land management activities that you can do, including the legal clearing of native vegetation.

Prior to undertaking any activity on your property, it is important to check if approval is required. Assessment and approval pathways for clearing native vegetation will depend on the purpose, nature, location and extent of the clearing. Be aware that the clearing of native vegetation and habitat loss is a key threatening process for many endangered plants and animals.

Clearing without approval can result in substantial fines.

Read more about your options and get advice.

Find out more about native vegetation

Read more in the Rural Living Handbook.