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New Planning Rules Affect Farming Practices in Colac Otway Shire

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Under new planning rules in Colac Otway Shire, farmers will not be able to remove fallen trees and perhaps even rocks.

The shire council will implement the rules as biodiversity and native vegetation maps are updated by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries across Victoria.

Farmers who have previously planted trees in order to help in natural habitat conservation are among the most affected. Some farmers, who were previously environmentally conscious, have even declared their intention to stop planting trees in the future.

The new planning rules mean that native vegetation on all farms will be protected. In a number of cases, it was the farmer who planted this vegetation. The farmers say that the new overlays penalise most the people who are attempting to be the most environmentally friendly.

The overlays were introduced in order that native vegetation be identified and preserved for wildlife habitat. As a result, ploughing native grass, removing fallen tree limbs for use as firewood, harvesting timber from purpose-planted native trees and even removing rocks is restricted.

“The ones who have raped and pillaged the land won’t end up having these overlays because they don’t have the native trees,” said farmer Ray Cooper.

Lyn Russell, Mayor of Colac Otway Shire Council, said that the new council overlays wouldn’t impact farming in the area, though she also admitted that trees that fall can’t be removed because they may become habitat.

Source:  http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2013/05/01/568555_latest-news.html

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