Victoria’s ecosystems are currently facing serious decline. Population growth and spread has put pressure on ecosystems, which has led to the degradation and loss of many native species and habitats. In addition, climate change brings new challenges and threats to Victoria's biodiversity and ecosystems.
This inquiry, which is the largest undertaken by the Committee, covers a very broad range of issues. The inquiry received nearly 1,000 substantive submissions which illustrated the importance of this issue to the Victorian community.
- Chapter 1 highlights why ecosystem decline matters and provides an overview of the inquiry process and report.
- Chapter 2 acknowledges that much of Australia’s environmental regulation stems from standards, principles and obligations developed at the international level. It outlines how international treaties have shaped national and state policy and legislative frameworks governing environmental management.
- In Chapter 3, the Committee recognises the centrality of biodiversity to First Nations peoples’ knowledge and wellbeing. The chapter also summarises the key legislative and policy mechanisms that seek to facilitate Traditional Owner land and water rights in Victoria, including recognition and settlement agreements, cultural heritage management and future treaty processes.
- Chapter 4 concedes that invasive plants and animals are now present in all terrestrial and aquatic environments across Victoria and have become a key driver of ecosystem decline.
- Chapter 5 explores the challenge which climate change presents to environmental management and examines the efficacy of the Victorian Government’s legislative and policy response.
- Chapter 6 highlights the devastating impact of habitat loss and fragmentation on native species. It looks at the legacy of land clearing and the ways in which our remaining native vegetation is protected, through Victorian planning schemes and other legislation.
- Chapter 7 explores the status of threatened species in Victoria and the adequacy of the legislative and policy framework aimed at their protection. Despite policy goals to protect and restore threatened species, the status of native species across the State is continuing to decline.
- In Chapter 8, the Committee undertakes a high-level examination of public and private land management.
- Chapter 9 examines environmental governance in Victoria and the implementation of legislation and policy.
- Chapter 10 looks at the ways in which compliance and enforcement of environmental laws are carried out, including through the Office of the Conservation Regulator.
- Chapter 11 considers the importance of comprehensive, up-to-date environmental monitoring and data collection to inform initiatives to protect Victoria’s biodiversity values.