Land clearing guidelines and management plans

For information on land clearing legislation and application process in the Northern Territory (NT) go to the Northern Territory Government website.

Go to the Northern Territory Government website for more information on freehold land applications and pastoral land applications.

Activities that require the clearing of native vegetation and are approved by other legislation, such as mining under the Mining Management Act, are exempt under the Planning Act and Pastoral Land Act.

The commercial harvesting of native vegetation is controlled by the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Purpose of land clearing approval process

The NT Government is committed to the long-term management of our valuable natural resources while encouraging continued sustainable development. Proposals to clear native vegetation are assessed during the application process to ensure they demonstrate good land management principles, particularly in relation to protecting soil, water and biodiversity values.

The Territory has to date avoided much of the poor land clearing practices that have degraded the southern environments, in some instances irreversibly. 

Inappropriate and uncontrolled clearing of land can destroy and fragment the habitat of native plants and animals, lead to soil erosion, salinity and sedimentation in our creeks and rivers, as well as destroying farmlands, lowering productivity and damaging water supplies.

The degradation caused by indiscriminate clearing can be very costly, not only for the environment, but also economically for the community and for landholders who are forced to rehabilitate degraded sites and fight weed infestations.

Land clearing is subject to the provisions under the Planning Act and Pastoral Land Act. For example, the Planning Act has maximum penalties of up to $30,600 for individuals (200 penalty units) and $153,000 for corporations (1,000 penalty units). 

Regular monitoring, including aerial photography and satellite image analysis and on ground inspections ensures compliance with the controls.

Read more about penalty units on the Department of Treasury and Finance website.

Land clearing guidelines

This information provides guidance in completing an application to clear native vegetation in the NT.

Go to NT.GOV.AU to read the following guidelines:

The Pastoral Land Board has adopted the definition of "native vegetation" and "clearing of native vegetation" as defined under the NT Planning Scheme. The Board has also adopted Section A: Technical Guidelines of the NT Planning Scheme Land Clearing Guidelines 2010.

When assessing the suitability of an area for development it is important to know whether the soil types will be suitable for the proposed use, whether adequate water resources are available and whether there are any threatened or endangered wildlife present.

The Land Clearing Guidelines are designed to assist landholders and the consent authority to decide which areas are suited to development and those that should be left in their natural state to help protect the environment and maintain biodiversity. The Land Clearing Guidelines apply to all native vegetation clearing in the NT. 

Vegetation management fact sheets are available on the Northern Territory Government website which explain the management of regrowth, habitat loss and fragmentation, selective clearing and buffers and corridors.

The Australia's Virtual Herbarium, NT plant species list and the NT threatened plant species lists are useful links to help determine what types of plants are on a property.

The NT Infonetis a website that provides map-based information to help people manage biodiversity, weeds and pest animals on their properties. Land managers can choose to download a Natural Resource Map (NRM) snapshot that provides an overview of the biodiversity values and threats for this area, or to find specific information using the NRM Explorer.

You can also get detailed soil and water advice by contacting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Last updated: 28 September 2016