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The Victorian Government has a new (draft) 20 year plan for the environment.

We have previously reported on how a new biodiversity strategy fits within the series of environmental reviews and reforms currently being undertaken by the Victorian Government. We have also provided updates in relation to the progress of these reviews.

We have just submitted our response to the Government’s 20 year plan for the environment and here’s a summary of what we think about it:

Why the need for a biodiversity strategy?

The Victorian Government has obligations to produce a biodiversity strategy under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act). It also has national commitments under Australia’s biodiversity strategy, and international commitments under the Convention of Biological Diversity.

Victoria’s new 20 year plan seeks to fulfill each of these commitments and seeks to establish a high-level, overarching policy framework for biodiversity protection, management and restoration directions across Victoria.

Our recommendations

Environmental Justice Australia welcomes the Government’s commitment to develop this plan. It has been a long time coming. The last biodiversity strategy was produced in 1997. This new plan will replace the now outdated biodiversity strategy.

Notwithstanding our support for the draft plan, we think the plan could be improved.

Importantly, we believe that the biodiversity plan needs to be prepared in conformity with our proposal for a reformed FFG Act. One of our key recommendations for reform of the FFG Act is that a new part is created that focuses on regulation and guidance for landscape scale management. This would include establishing a series of binding 20 year targets across a full range of biodiversity indicators. The biodiversity plan would then become one of the most important means to meet the legislative biodiversity targets.

To enable the biodiversity plan to achieve this aim, we recommend that the FFG Act include a legislative framework for the plan so that it:

  • becomes the joint responsibility of both the Premier and Minister;
  • is developed in consultation with local government, the community and business;
  • is tabled in Parliament for maximum transparency;
  • is reviewed and updated every five years (i.e. progress towards meeting the targets would be measured every five years with new five year targets set, policies and plans adapted as necessary);
  • specifies interim five-yearly targets that demonstrate what progress in meeting the longer-term targets is expected over that five-year period;
  • includes a summary of the Government’s policies and actions for meeting the interim targets for that period;
  • includes a pledge from each Victorian Government department confirming its intention to meet its share of the interim target; and
  • sets out the roles and responsibilities of state and local government for achieving the interim biodiversity targets, as well as identifying the opportunities for private sector involvement.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Victorian Government to ensure that the 20 year plan for the environment is successful in committing the Government to positive actions that seek to achieve conservation and restoration of Victoria’s biodiversity, while at the same time, paving the way for successful reform of the FFG Act. 

If you would like any further information about our submission to the recent consultation regarding the new 20 year biodiversity plan, or our reform proposal regarding the FFG Act, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.