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Clearing and Fire Recovery

Preparing for Bushfire Season

For all information about how to prepare for the bushfire season, refer to the Native Vegetation Council and SA CFS Guide - Managing Native Vegetation - How to reduce the impact of bushfire and the steps you need to take 

Fire Recovery

The activities involving clearance that you can undertake on your property after a bushfire are highlighted below.
Can I replace a fence?

Yes, you can undertake necessary clearance to allow access to maintain an existing fence to a maximum of 5m total (2.5m either side of fence) or to a maximum of 1m onto a road reserve, with permission from the local council.  For more information see our information on fences.

Can I realign a fence?

Yes, you can realign a fence provided you are doing it in a way that reduces the amount of new clearance.  If you are establishing a new fence, you need to notify us.

Can I replace an access track?

Yes, you can clear an existing access track on your property, provided it is used for walking access and is no more than 0.5m in width. For more information see our information on walking tracks.

Can I replace a vehicle track?

Yes, you can clear to maintain a vehicle track of no more than 5m wide on your property to provide access.  If you are establishing a new vehicle track, you need to notify us.

Can I remove a burnt tree posing a safety risk or inhibiting access?

Yes you can remove limbs of a burnt tree or the whole burnt tree (where necessary) if it is within 10m of a house or building and is inhibiting access or posing a safety risk. 

Can I remove a burnt tree from a road reserve?

You must have approval to do so by your local council who will refer to the NVC's Guidelines for Roadside Native Vegetation Management.

Can I remove a burnt tree in my paddock?

Many of these trees will reshoot and recover post fire.  Where there is no immediate safety risk to people and property, burnt paddock trees should be retained. If there is a safety risk, a report from a plant health expert is required to be provided to the NVC for approval. Please be aware that burnt trees are not necessarily dead trees and generally recover after a fire, remaining as important habitat and protected under the Native Vegetation Act. See our dead plants FAQ for information on dead plants that are protected under the Act. 

Can clearance for fuel breaks or fire mitigation occur during an active fire?

CFS Officers have certain powers during an active fire to undertake necessary actions to protect property and people.  This can include undertaking or directing the clearance of native vegetation for activities such as fire breaks on state, local government or private land.  Landholders should only act upon the direction of a CFS Officer. For further information you can contact the CFS

If you are interested in fire hazard reduction during bushfire recovery please see our clearing page for further information.

For information on where clearance is permitted after a bushfire, see the Native Trees in Burnt Areas FAQ.
                                                                                                         

Clearing Native Vegetation

Native vegetation in most parts of South Australia (except parts of metropolitan Adelaide) is protected by the Native Vegetation Act 1991. See our maps to find out where the Act applies.

Dead plants can be classified as native vegetation under certain circumstances and are protected by the Native Vegetation Act 1991.

Planted vegetation is not covered by the Act unless it was intentionally sown or planted by a person in compliance with a condition imposed by the Council or under any other Act or has been planted with NVC funds (Offset area).

Significant and Regulated Trees may require additional separate approval from Local Council where applicable. Contact nvc@sa.gov.au for further advice.

If you want to clear or remove native vegetation you need to comply with certain requirements (such as following guidelines) or apply for approval. If you already know you need to apply, go to the application forms.

Previous application decisions can be viewed via the clearance register, found here

Clearance under the Regulations may require approval

We recommend that you submit applications at least 10 weeks before you require a decision.

Some activities are permitted outside the clearance controls of the Act. These activities are named in the Native Vegetation Regulations 2017 and are listed below.

Do you need to apply for approval to clear? Are there conditions you need to follow? To find out, click on the relevant activity below or use our Interactive Guide for Native Vegetation.

Planning and development

Property maintenance

Agriculture

Environment

Collecting

Infrastructure

Legislation

You can also see information about all the above activities in our Guide to the Native Vegetation Regulations 2017. A summary of the guide is available in the flyer Managing native vegetation: a summary.

Clearance under the Act requires approval

If your proposed activity is not listed above, please submit a Clearance Application under Section 28 of the Native Vegetation Act 1991.

The most common Section 28 clearance applications to permanently clear native vegetation are for (but are not limited to):

  • scattered trees for centre pivots
  • scattered tress for farm purposes, other than those activities listed above in the regulations
  • cropping purposes
  • vineyards or horticulture activities
  • vegetation regrowth that is more than 5 years old and is to be permanently removed
  • changing land use or expanding an existing use
  • cemetery expansion
  • harvesting native vegetation for brushcutting, woodcutting or any other purpose that involves taking or collecting native vegetation (Section 27(3) of the Act).

Section 28 applications are assessed against the Principles of Native Vegetation Clearance (Schedule 1) and the criteria for intact strata – see the Guide for Applications to clear native vegetation under the Native Vegetation Act 1991 or Native Vegetation Regulations 2017

In most instances, you will need to engage an Accredited Consultant to undertake a data report and help you in preparing an application and an application fee will also be required. Contact us for more information.

To see how the clearance process works, check out the Clearance and Significant Environmental Benefit Process Chart

What does 'clearing' mean?

You may need to seek approval or meet certain requirements to:

  • cut down, burn, poison or remove plants
  • remove branches, limbs, stems or trunks
  • slash understorey
  • drain and reclaim wetlands
  • burn native vegetation
  • change grazing practices
  • carry out any other activity likely cause damage to native vegetation.

Contact us

Enquiries should be directed to your local Natural Resources Centre. They can give you general advice and direction.

If you have submitted an application, or are seeking follow up information, please contact the department's Native Vegetation Branch on (+61 8) 8303 9777 or submit an online enquiry.

Native vegetation approved clearance infographic

Click here to view form.