Native vegetation and firewood

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Removal of native vegetation

You may need a planning permit to remove or cut down a tree, shrubs or other vegetation if:

  • the property is covered by a heritage overlay
  • your land is over 4000 square metres in area
  • your land is in an Environmental Significance Overlay
  • any of the landscaping has been identified in a landscape plan approved as part of a planning permit

Failure to comply with regulatory requirements may lead to a fine.

Some tree removal activities are exempt from a planning permit, as per the Table of Exemptions in Clause 52.17 of the Planning Scheme. Check here to see if you need a permit.

Roadside vegetation: Can I or can't I?
Question
Answer
Clear trees in the road reserve? Possibly, always contact us to discuss your proposal. You will need a consent to work in the road reserve. There are some exemptions but most vegetation clearing would also require a planning permit and offsets. Given Council is the responsible authority for most roads, Council would be required to obtain the planning permit and offsets required. Our policy is to retain native vegetation in the roadsides unless it is causing a road safety issue. All roads are regularly inspected for maintenance, including assessment of overhanging trees, but if you think there is a hazard please report it to us.
Can I bulldoze/grade the roadside to remove fire hazards? No. This is a contravention of the native vegetation regulations. Clearing the area will result in loss of habitat, and more weeds. The CFA and the Municipal Fire Management Committee have assessed all roads in the shire and have a plan of roads that require fuel reduction treatment, Fuel reduction in applicable roadsides will be professionally undertaken by the CFA brigades, with the required environmental checks and controls in place.
Plant native vegetation in the road reserve? Probably. We encourage native vegetation appropriate to the area to improve the roadside conservation value. You will need a consent to work in the road reserve so please discuss your proposal with us. Don't plant near power lines or other services. Planting of non-natives is not permitted and may be removed by Council.
Collect firewood from the road reserve?  Probably, but you will need a firewood collection permit.
Tidy up or pick up sticks from the road reserve?  Yes you can but it's best not to - all natural material should stay in the road reserve wherever practicable. It is all part of the habitat and breaks down over time to return organic matter to the soil. Many animals rely on leaf litter, low shrubs and thickets for habitat.

Removing trees in a waterway

The North East Catchment Management Authority is the responsible authority for approving works in waterways, including tree removal on waterways going through private property.

Valuing our roadsides

Vegetation on road reserves is an important part of the environment in Indigo Shire. Roadsides provide pockets of remnant vegetation, a source of indigenous seed stock and corridors between isolated stands of native vegetation, providing wildlife habitat and passage.  

The majority of local roads within Indigo Shire have been assessed for their conservation values in recognition of the importance of such areas for flora and fauna. Each road is rated as high, medium or low according to the following factors:

  • width of the road reserve
  • provision of habitat (trees with hollows, presence of native trees or shrubs, presence of native grasses, leaf litter cover, presence of logs, rocks or crevices as well as low lying areas)
  • amount of natural regeneration
  • how vegetated the area is and if it acts as a wildlife corridor
  • percentage coverage of weeds
  • amount of site disturbance
  • presence of rare or threatened species.

Roadside Conservation Status Map(PDF, 930KB)

Your responsibilities in the roadside

Stock Movement, Grazing and Droving

A Local Law Permit is required for livestock movement, grazing and droving on a roadside. Conditions will apply to graze on medium and high conservation roadsides. Proposals for livestock movement, droving and grazing on roads must be referred to Council Local Laws staff for compliance with Indigo Shire Council Local Law No 4 and to Council’s Environment staff for environmental assessment and recommendations. Site conditions and conservation values  guide recommendations.

Fencing

Consent from Council is required to construct a fence where such works will involve operating within the municipal road reserve.  This is to ensure that care is taken in assessing and managing risks associated with working in the road reserve. 

In some instances, a Planning Permit for native vegetation removal (trees, shrubs and grasses) is also required under the Indigo Planning Scheme, however exemptions do permit a combined maximum width of 4 metres clearing either side of the fence for the construction or maintenance of a fence (refer to Clause 52.17-7 of the planning scheme). Council’s planning staff can determine the need for a Planning Permit as required by the Indigo Planning Scheme. Contact council staff to determine if the exemption applies to your circumstance.  

Harvesting wild flowers, foliage, and seeds

Collection of native plant material on public land (including roadsides) requires permission under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 protected flora regulations. Direct permit enquiries to regional Dept. of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) staff .

Collecting firewood from roadsides

Roadside firewood is an affordable fuel source and may also reduce fuel loads in the event of a bush fire. These benefits need to be balanced with the risks presented by allowing firewood collection in roadsides, including:

  • Impacts to biodiversity. Road reserves are important habitat for native species, and fallen dead logs provide habitat for native fauna.
  • Spread of weeds. Inadequate weed hygiene practices can result in the spread of weeds from one road reserve to other areas where the weed might not have been established.
  • Occupational health and safety risks to people collecting firewood, e.g. through operating chainsaws.
  • Traffic hazards from vehicles and people operating the road reserve.
  • Amenity impacts to residents adjacent to the collection area.

You can apply for a permit to collect firewood here(PDF, 386KB) or in person at one of our customer service centres.

Check the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) wesbite for seasonal designated firewood collection areas on crown land.

Firewood collection is not allowed on the following VicRoads roads:

  • Barnawartha-Howlong Road
  • Beechworth-Chiltern Road
  • Beechworth-Wangaratta Road
  • Beechworth-Wangaratta road
  • Beechworth-Wodonga Road
  • Buckland gap Road
  • Chiltern-Howlong Road
  • Chiltern-Rutherglen Road
  • Dederang Road
  • Kiewa east Road
  • Lindsay Road
  • Lockharts Gap Road
  • Myrtleford-Yackandandah Road
  • Rutherglen-Springhurst Road
  • Rutherglen-Wahgunyah Road
  • Stanley Road
  • Federation Way
  • Wodonga-Yackandandah Road
  • Yackandandah Road

How to apply for consent to work in the roadside - firewood collection permit

You can complete the permit application form in person at a customer service centre, download a form and submit to info@indigoshire.vic.gov.au or by post.

Include the specific roads and sections that you propose to undertake the collection on. Only Indigo Shire managed roads are applicable to firewood collection applications (see list of VicRoad's roads above). Including a sketch plan and/or photographs is not mandatory but will fast track the application process. Your permit application will be assessed on a case by case basis, in view of:

  • Conservation value of the roadside
  • Road safety, availability of safe parking areas
  • Fuel loads
  • Impacts to adjacent landholders
  • Storm events
  • Distribution across the Shire   
  • Other permits that have been issued that season/year in the same area.

Roadside firewood collection areas may therefore change between and within collection seasons in light of the above factors.

Firewood collection permit fee

The permit fees will be determined by Council annually and will include concessions for Pensioner and Healthcare Card holders. Firewood collection permit fees are currently $25 or $15 for pensioners and health care card holders. The permit fees acknowledges that there is a cost to council and that there is an environmental cost for collecting firewood on road reserves.  (They do not cover the entire administrative costs.)

Community firewood access

From time to time our operations team clears trees that are suitable for firewood, as a result the Indigo Shire has established a Community Woodlot. The Community Woodlot has been operating since 2007 in partnership with the Beechworth Correctional Centre to provide a source of low-cost firewood for Indigo Shire pensioners and concession cardholders.

The service is provided by the prison teams and coordinated by Council. The location and amount of wood stockpiles varies year to year, depending on when and where wood is available.  Please do not treat this service as your main source of firewood as the wood may be not be dry and it is accessible  only if and when it becomes available.

Due to prisoner team time constraints it is difficult to facilitate distribution over the whole of the Shire area and direct delivery is not guaranteed.  However recipients can arrange for collection from those depots where the wood is prepared.   If you are part of a community organisation that would like to assist in helping with the distribution of wood within your local community, please contact us.