The protected plants regulations under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006, otherwise known as the ‘big blue dot’, has caused frustration and confusion amongst landholders. So, what is it, and what does it mean for farmers?
Basically, the big blue dot means that you are in a high risk area where plants that are endangered, vulnerable or near threatened are present or are likely to be present ‘in the wild’.
The protected plants map is different to the regulated vegetation mapping generated under the Vegetation Management Act. Under the VMA, blue mapping represents remnant vegetation. Under the protected plants mapping, the blue dot represents a high risk area under the NCA.
You can obtain a protected plants flora survey trigger map from the following website:
It is an offence under s89 of the NCA to take a protected plant that is ‘in the wild’ unless it is taken under a permit or pursuant to an exemption.
Prior to clearing land, you should check the protected plants flora survey trigger map to determine whether your property is within a high risk area.
If an exemption doesn’t apply, it is likely that you will need to engage an ecologist to carry out a flora survey and provide that survey to the Department of Environment and Science to confirm that no endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants will be impacted by the clearing.