Biodiversity

Natural Environment

Yass Valley is home to some of Australia's most picturesque and diverse landscapes, characterised by grassland plains, gently rolling hills and green valleys which give way to the spectacular Brindabella Ranges.  Yass Valley Council area covers approximately 365,000 hectares, overlapping two bioregions. The eastern part of the LGA is in the South Eastern Highland Bioregion, while the western part is in the NSW South Western Slopes Bioregion. Both bioregions contain a number of important environmental features and sensitive areas.
 
Within the boundaries of the LGA, there is one National Park, five Nature Reserves and one State Conservation Area.
 
There are also numerous endangered and vulnerable flora and fauna species (please note this website still searches by CMA areas – use Murrumbidgee), including the nationally endangered Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia), Spotted-tail Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculates), Wee Jasper Grevillea (Grevillea iaspicula), Golden Moths Orchid (Diuris lanceolata) and Hoary Sunray (Leucochrysum albicans). Some sections of Yass Valley also contain two nationally endangered ecological communities - Natural Temperate Grassland and Grassy White Box Woodlands.

 

Trees

Trees are a vital aspect of the character of the Yass Valley region. Both native and introduced species enhance the landscape, provide habitat for wildlife and provide the comfort of shade.
 
If you have any concerns about the legitimacy of any tree removal, please contact Council (council@yass.nsw.gov.au or 6226 1477) or report your concerns to the NSW Environment Compliance Hotline 131 555.
 

Trees on Private Land

The removal and pruning of trees and other vegetation on private land may be subject to the requirements of the Yass Valley Local Environmental Plan 2013.
 
If your property is listed as an item of environmental heritage under Schedule 5 of the Yass Valley Local Environmental Plan 2013 or if it is within a heritage conservation area the removal or pruning of a tree/s may require development consent. Should Council be satisfied that the proposed tree removal or pruning is of a minor nature and will not adversely affect the heritage significance of the heritage item or conservation area or that a tree is a risk to human life or property it may be processed as a minor work to a heritage item or place in a conservation area. Council’s form (form 23) for minor works to a heritage item or place in a conservation area
 
To determine if your property is an item of environmental heritage under Schedule 5 of the Yass Valley Local Environmental Plan 2013 or if it is within a heritage conservation area please contact Council's Strategic Planning Department.
 
If you are proposing to remove or prune a tree on your property it is recommended you contact Council's Strategic Planning Department for information on what approvals may be required.
 

Clearing of vegetation to which the Native Vegetation Act 2003 applies

Some land may be subject to the requirements of the Native Vegetation Act 2003. For information on what approvals may be required for the removal of native vegetation on land to which the Native Vegetation Act 2003 applies (see table below) read through the LLS brochure “Can I clear dangerous trees in my backyard?” or contact South East Local Land Services.
 
In some instances the removal of native vegetation on land to which the Native Vegetation Act 2003 applies can be carried out in accordance with the self-assessable codes which can be accessed on the Office of Environment & Heritage.
 
Zones where the Native Vegetation Act 2003 applies:
  • Zone E2 Environmental Conservation
  • Zone E3 Environmental Management
  • Zone E4 Environmental Living
  • Zone RU1 Primary Production
  • Zone RU2 Rural Landscape
  • Zone RU4 Primary Production Small Lots
  • Zone R5 Large Lot Residential

 

Clearing of vegetation for Bush fire Preparation (10/50 Entitlement Area)

New laws introduced by the State Government and implemented by the NSW Rural Fire Service allow people in a designated 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area to:
  • Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home, without seeking approval; and
  • Clear underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval
To determine whether your property is within a designated 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Area please visit NSW RFS.
 
The new laws are supported by the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice. The Code includes a number of vegetation clearing provisions where clearing is not permitted, to manage soil erosion and landslip risks, protect riparian buffer zones, protect cultural heritage, and protect vegetation to which a legal obligation exists to preserve that vegetation (eg Property Vegetation Plans).
 
Clearing can only be done if you are the landowner or you have the approval of the landowner. If you rent your property, you will need to get the approval from your landlord first. It is recommended you keep written evidence of the approval.
 

Neighbours and trees

Tree disputes between neighbours can be referred to the NSW Land & Environment Court in accordance with the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006.  Please note that Yass Valley Council does not have any legislative authority to deal with trees on your neighbour's private property. If you have issues with trees on your neighbour's property, contact the Community Justice Centre on 1800 990 777 in the first instance. If mediation attempts between neighbours fail, contact the NSW Land and Environment Court on 02 9113 8200.  
 

Street and Park Trees

Street and Park Trees are maintained primarily by Council Parks & Gardens staff. Removal of trees will only be undertaken where a risk to public safety or property has been identified. Parks & Gardens staff or qualified arborists contracted by Council prune trees on public land mainly for the purposes of clearing traffic sight distance or making traffic signs more visible, improving health, shape or safety of a tree, and removing obstructions to pedestrian traffic on footpath. Country Energy and arborists under contract to them are the only other organisations / individuals with authority to prune street trees.

 

Nature Strips 

Maintenance of grass and any other surface material (aside from footpaths & other infrastructure provided by Council) on the nature strip is the responsibility of the person residing at the adjacent property.
 
In the interest of pedestrian safety it is essential to keep grass mown regularly during the growing season. Planting of gardens, trees or construction of any permanent landscaping is not permitted without written consent from Council's Planning department. The nature strip should not be used for storage or discarding of rubbish except for Council approved garbage collections. Failure to maintain a safe and tidy nature strip could result in fines. 
 
Maintenance of trees on nature strips is the responsibility of Council, however your assistance in ensuring the health & vitality of such a valuable asset to the community is appreciated.
 
There are two main ways you can help to protect the amenity of your street by caring for trees on the nature strip 
  • Care with mulching - if you mulch the trees outside your property it is essential to leave some space for air circulation between the mulch and the tree truck. If mulch is placed right up against the tree trunk it can cause rot and affect the health of the tree.
  • Avoid soil compaction - driving vehicles onto the nature strip around the root zone of a tree will compact the soil and can cause structural weakness or ill health in the tree. It is best not to drive vehicles under the drip zone of the tree canopy to avoid compaction damage.

 

Waterwise Gardens in Yass Valley


 

Yass Gorge

The Yass Gorge (the area along the Yass River between Flat Rock Crossing and the Yass Dam) has been a project that Council and Yass Landcare have been working on for over a decade. Since October 2014 Council has supported two Green Army teams and the Friends of Yass Gorge to clear weeds, create pathways and install benches and interpretive signs.

The Yass Gorge is significant for two reasons:

  1. Natural bushland in the middle of an urban area – providing recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, and habitat for native plants and animals
  2. Part of the Gorge contains the best example of Natural Temperate Grassland in the region (a critically engendered ecological community – which means that its extremely rare and must be protected)

This map shows the trails and infrastructure through the Yass Gorge. If you’re not able to walk the trail, you could instead drive to the end of Meehan Street and walk out to the rocks for a sweeping view of the whole Gorge. 

Interpretive signs are installed in the Yass Gorge to inform visitors of significant information.

For more information about the Yass Gorge or to become a Friend of the Yass Gorge, please contact the group through their facebook page or contact Council’s Strategic Planning team (6226 1477).

Thank you to Jill McGovern, Lesley Peden and Rainer Rehwinkel for the use of their images.