(Photos courtesy of Nic Fitzgerald)
‘Hobart City Council continues to offer rates rebates for landowners who voluntarily protect native vegetation with significant conservation values.’
The Importance of Remnant Native Vegetation
Much of the native vegetation that existed in south-eastern Tasmania prior to European settlement has been cleared or heavily modified in the past 200 years (particularly Eucalyptus forests/woodlands, grasslands and wetlands). The remaining patches of native vegetation (known as remnants) can therefore be highly significant from a biodiversity conservation perspective where they belong to a vegetation community that has been significantly reduced in extent.
In addition to the biodiversity conservation significance of these rare vegetation communities, remnant vegetation serves many other important functions including animal habitat, carbon storage, hydrological regulation, water and air purification, soil stabilisation and providing amenity values.
Important Vegetation Communities in the Hobart Municipality
The majority of native vegetation in the Hobart municipality (outside of Wellington Park) consists of wet and dry Eucalyptus forest and woodland. Of these two groups, the dry Eucalyptus communities have been cleared to a greater extent and are therefore generally more significant from a conservation perspective.
A number of dry Eucalyptus forest/woodland communities that occur in the municipality are listed as ‘threatened’ under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 and are particularly significant. These include:
- Eucalyptus amygdalina (Black Peppermint) forest/woodland on sandstone;
- Eucalyptus tenuiramis (Silver Peppermint) forest/woodland on sediments;
- Eucalyptus globulus (Blue Gum) dry forest/woodland;
- Eucalyptus ovata (Black Gum) forest/woodland.
The Eucalyptus globulus dry forest/woodland and Eucalyptus ovata forest/woodland communities are particularly significant for biodiversity conservation in the Hobart area as they provide critical habitat for the endangered Swift Parrot. Other significant communities found within the municipal area include:
- Eucalyptus amygdalina (Black Peppermint) inland forest;
- Lowland Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass) grassland;
- Notelaea – Pomaderris – Beyeria scrub.
Further information on Tasmanian native vegetation communities can be found on the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website
The Rates Rebate Scheme
Private landowners are increasingly playing a role in efforts to conserve Tasmania’s native vegetation and protected areas on private land (essentially private nature reserves) are becoming a significant component of the State’s reserve system. The Hobart City Council recognises the importance of protected areas on private land in conserving remnant native vegetation within the municipality.
To acknowledge and reward the efforts of landowners, and to encourage other interested landowners to participate, Hobart City Council offers discounted rates for private properties where areas of native vegetation with significant biodiversity values are formally and voluntarily protected.
The annual rates rebate currently stands at $6.04 per hectare protected with a minimum rebate of $60.40 per property and a maximum rebate of $604 per property. Following several trial periods, Council determined in August 2012 to extend the scheme indefinitely. Participating property owners will automatically receive a reduced rates bill each year the scheme is in place.
Who is Eligible to Receive the Rebate?
The Rates Rebate Scheme recognises ‘formal protection’ as either a Conservation Covenant or Part 5 Agreement that places restrictions on the use of the area so that the ecological values are maintained. Such instruments will also sometimes impose management obligations such as weed control or fencing.
Conservation Covenants are approved and administered through the State Government, whereas Part 5 Agreements are approved and administered by Council. Both Conservation Covenants and Part 5 Agreements are recorded on the property title and generally remain in perpetuity. Conservation Covenants and Part 5 Agreements do not afford any rights for public access.
Only property owners who have voluntarily entered into such an arrangement are eligible. Landowners who have been required to enter into Part 5 Agreements or Conservation Covenants to offset the impacts of a development (e.g. under a planning permit or Forest Practices Plan) are not eligible for the rebate.
Conservation Covenants are approved and administered through the State Government Protected Areas on Private Land (PAPL) program under the Nature Conservation Act 2002. The PAPL program is particularly interested in areas that are greater than ten hectares in size and are in good condition - vegetation that has a diversity of species, has limited management issues such as weeds and ideally is linked to other areas of native bush. Properties subject to voluntary Conservation Covenants under the PAPL program will automatically be eligible to receive the rebate. Further information about the PAPL program can be found on the Managing Natural Resources page on the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website.
Conservation Covenants under the PAPL program are generally more attractive to landowners than Part 5 Agreements because landowners under the PAPL program normally only have to pay for a portion of the establishment costs, may be eligible for land tax exemptions, receive free management advice and would receive a free management plan for the ‘reserve’.
Part 5 Agreements
Part 5 Agreements are approved and administered by Council under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993. The majority of costs associated with establishing Part 5 Agreements are borne by the landowner, however Council will assist landowners with the drafting of Agreements. Costs associated with Part 5 Agreements include legal drafting and registration of the Agreement on the property title.
Council will consider Part 5 Agreement rebate applications for areas of any size and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis considering a number of criteria such as size, shape, condition, vulnerability, habitat value and rarity. Under most circumstances however, to be successful Part 5 Agreement rebate applications will need to meet the following criteria:
- The area proposed for protection contains vegetation that is classified as being of State, bioregional or local significance or being important threatened species habitat on Council’s geographic information system; and
- The area protected is one hectare or more and is contiguous with other substantial sized areas of vegetation or is not likely to be vulnerable to degradation from surrounding land uses; and
- The vegetation is in good condition and would require little ongoing management to maintain those values.
How do I Apply?
Applications for Conservation Covenants should be made directly to the Protected Areas on Private Land program. To apply for the rates rebate once a Conservation Covenant has been obtained, simply forward to Council’s Environmental Development Planner your contact details and copies of:
- the current land title documents for the property; and
- the Conservation Covenant registered on the Certificate of Title; and
- the correspondence from the PAPL program when the Conservation Covenant was approved.
Confirmation of receipt and approval of the rebate application will be provided to the applicant.
If you are considering a Part 5 Agreement, you will need to submit an expression of interest for Council consideration. An expression of interest must include details of landowner(s) names and contact details, the Certificate of Title reference and details of the size and location of vegetation being considered for protection. Expressions of interest should also include as much information as is known about the vegetation proposed for protection (e.g. any flora/fauna assessments that have been carried out, condition of vegetation, known threatened species habitat, time since significant fires etc) and any threats to the ecological values of that vegetation (e.g. weeds, grazing, feral animals etc).
For further information about the rates rebate scheme or Part 5 Agreements please contact Council’s Environmental Development Planner on (03) 6238 2168. For further information about Conservation Covenants and the Protected Areas on Private Land program, please refer to the PAPL web page which includes contact details for officers of the program.