Topics > Native vegetation > Clearing Native Vegetation

Dam: create new or expand existing dam (pastoral land)

Can I clear native vegetation to establish a new dam or expand my existing dam?

You can clear vegetation to construct or expand a dam on pastoral land (defined under the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act 1989). This includes clearance of vegetation by way of flooding by water retained in the dam.

Does this include land under Heritage or Management Agreement?

No you cannot clear for this purpose on Heritage Agreement or Management Agreement land.

Do I need approval?

Yes you need to get approval from the Native Vegetation Council (NVC).

What do I have to do?

  • Make sure that your clearing is within the parameters of this activity.

  • Consider if there are other practical alternatives to clearing, including options that involve no clearing, or clearing vegetation that is less significant or more degraded.

The NVC will assess the level of risk to biodiversity associated with your clearance proposal.

If your proposal is assessed as a ‘low risk’ activity (Level 1 of the Risk Assessment)

Your proposed clearance will be considered low risk if it is for 500m2 or less of vegetation, or 5 or fewer scattered trees. Although in the pastoral areas of the state (i.e. Landscape Regions South Australian Arid Lands and Alinytjara Wilurara), the vegetation proposed to be cleared can be up to 3 hectares.

You will need to provide the following to the NVC:

  • an online application identifying the
    • regulation that applies to your situation
    • measures taken to avoid and minimise the proposed clearance
    • number and size of any scattered trees to be cleared
    • size of vegetation patch to be cleared
    • any previous clearance history
  • photographs of the site.

The NVC will assess the information against the Mitigation Hierarchy and the requirements of the regulation (you can see these in detail in the Native Vegetation Regulations 2017). If the NVC is satisfied, the NVC will issue an approval and a Significant Environmental Benefit (SEB) offset of $500 will be required.

If your proposal is assessed as a ‘medium to high risk’ activity (Levels 2, 3, and 4 of the Risk Assessment)

If your proposed clearance does not meet the criteria for low risk (Level 1), you will be required to engage an Accredited Consultant to undertake a vegetation assessment of the proposed clearance area. The consultant will prepare a Data Report which must be submitted in addition to the information required for ‘low risk’ applications.

If any of the following escalating factors are identified in the risk assessment, the proposal will be automatically raised to the next level (i.e. 2, 3 or 4) of risk and an SEB offset will be required. If there:

What are my obligations if I am granted approval?

  • Undertake clearance within 2 years of approval being granted, unless otherwise specified.

  • Undertake clearance in compliance with any conditions that apply which are binding and enforceable against the person to whom the approval is granted as well as subsequent owners and occupiers of the land.

What if I want to clear vegetation to maintain or repair an existing dam?

You do not need approval to clear vegetation to repair or maintain an existing dam's structure and integrity.

What if I want to clear vegetation for a dam in an agricultural area?

A clearance application under the Native Vegetation Act 1991 will be required.


You are not permitted to clear under this activity if you are clearing vegetation previously established as a condition of a consent for clearance or under regulation (including a condition in respect of clearance permitted under revoked regulations).


Clearing vegetation as a consequence of vegetation being flooded by water retained in the dam could be considered a breach of the Native Vegetation Act 1991 (if the flooded area has not been approved for clearance).

What if my activity doesn't fit this description?

If your proposed clearance does not meet the requirements of this regulation, or another regulation, you can submit a clearance application under Section 28 of the Native Vegetation Act 1991.


Native Vegetation Branch.