Invasive species laws and the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994

Agriculture Victoria is responsible for administering the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act), which is the main article of legislation governing the management of invasive plants and animals in Victoria.

Under this Act, species of plants and animals can be declared as noxious weeds and pest animals if they have or might have the potential to become a serious threat to:

  • primary production
  • Crown land
  • the environment
  • community health

What the CaLP Act does

The CaLP Act:

  • defines roles and responsibilities and regulates the management of noxious weeds and pest animals
  • prohibits the movement and sale of noxious weeds of all categories anywhere in the state
  • covers weed seeds occurring as contaminants in seed lots, plant products or on vehicles, machinery or animals
  • regulates the importation, keeping, selling and releasing of declared pest animals

Legal responsibilities of land owners

Under the CaLP Act, all land owners are legally required to manage declared noxious weeds and pest animals on their land. This means land owners must take all reasonable steps to:

  • eradicate regionally prohibited weeds
  • prevent the growth and spread of regionally controlled weeds
  • prevent the spread of — and as far as possible eradicate — established pest animals on their land

Read more about your legal responsibilities for managing invasive species.

Penalties for offences under the CaLP Act

If you don't comply with section 20 of the CaLP Act, the government can serve a Directions Notice or Land Management Notice on a land owner that outlines measures that must be taken for the control or eradication of noxious species on your land. It's an offence to not comply with the conditions of these notices.

The maximum penalty for a single offence involving:

  • responsibilities for the management of noxious weeds is about $38,000 (true as of 2018)
  • importing, keeping, releasing or selling a prohibited pest animal is about $76,000 (true as of 2018)

Catchment and Land Protection Regulations 2012

There are also regulations under the CaLP Act that further guide the management of invasive pests. The Catchment and Land Protection Regulations 2012 (CaLP Regulations) specify the 4 control measures that can be included in a Directions Notice for each species of declared noxious weed.

The 4 measures are:

  • application of herbicide
  • cultivation of the soil
  • physical removal
  • mulching

See more about the prescribed measures for the control of noxious weeds.

The Regulations also specify:

  • how many rabbits a person can keep without a permit
  • 2 prescribed measures for the eradication or control of European Rabbits (ripping and sealing all entrances to the warren)

Other relevant laws

The following laws are also relevant to the management of invasive species in Victoria.

  • Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 limits control or management activities in areas of cultural heritage sensitivity. This is particularly relevant to control measures that significantly disturb the soil (for example, the ripping of rabbit warrens to a depth greater than 60 centimetres).
  • Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 sets out controls for the use of chemicals and poisons.
  • Biological Control Act 1986 sets out provisions for the release of agent organisms to control target organisms.
  • Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987 gives a framework for a land management system and to make necessary administrative, financial and enforcement provisions.
  • Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 gives for reservation of Crown land for a variety of public purposes, the appointment of committees of management to manage those reserves and for leasing and licensing of reserves.
  • Environment Protection Act 1970 sets out a duty of care not to pollute air and waterways (for example when using herbicides or pesticides).
  • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth) gives the legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities, heritage places (matters of national environmental significance).
  • Fences Act 1968 sets out special provisions relating to vermin-proof fences.
  • Firearms Act 1996 sets out requirements and conditions on the use of firearms for the control of invasive animals.
  • Fisheries Act 1995 gives the legislative framework for the regulation, management and conservation of Victorian fisheries, including aquatic habitats. Under the Fisheries Act, an aquatic species can be declared as noxious.
  • Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 enables and promotes the conservation of Victoria's native flora and fauna and sets out procedures that can be used for the conservation, management or control of flora and fauna. A species can't be declared as noxious under the CaLP Act if it's listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
  • Impounding of Livestock Act 1994 outlines powers of authorised persons to impound trespassing, wandering or abandoned livestock. This Act should be considered when dealing with established pest animals that could be considered to be trespassing, wandering or abandoned (for example, feral or wild pigs and goats).
  • Land Act 1958 states that land owners who hold a lease, licence or permit for agricultural or non-agricultural land uses on a section of Crown land are responsible for noxious weed and pest animal management on that land.
  • This Act also outlines the rules for property boundaries around some waterways. This can impact who has responsibility for invasive species management in riparian zones.
  • Local Government Act 1989 allows local governments to develop local laws relating to noxious weed and pest animal management.
  • Meat Industry Act 1993 gives the definition of meat processing facility.
  • National Parks Act 1975 outlines the requirements for declaration and management of National Parks and some other types of parks. The CaLP Act stipulates that the chief executive officer of Parks Victoria is the land owner responsible for noxious weed and pest animal management in any parks listed in Schedule 2 of the National Parks Act.
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 sets out requirements to secure the health, safety and welfare of employers, employees and contractors to eliminate sources of risks and to ensure that members of the public aren't put at risk.
  • Parks Victoria Act 2018 establishes Parks Victoria as a body corporate that doesn't represent the Crown but whose chief executive officer has park management responsibilities as the Director of National Parks under the National Parks Act 1975.
  • These responsibilities include the management of noxious weed and pest animal in parks managed by Parks Victoria.
  • Planning and Environment Act 1987 creates a framework for planning the use, development and protection of land in Victoria, including the removal, destruction or lopping of trees or the removal of vegetation or topsoil as a result of noxious weed and pest animal control works
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 makes it an offence to intentionally administer poison to or lay a bait for an animal that contains poison or another harmful substance other than in line with the CaLP Act, Wildlife Act 1975, or Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1982.
  • Road Management Act 2004 gives the meaning of freeways and arterial roads. Under the CaLP Act, the Roads Corporation (VicRoads) is the land owner responsible for noxious weed and pest management on freeways and arterial roads. Consent of the coordinating road authority might be required before undertaking any works to control invasive species on roadsides.
  • Road Safety Act 1986 gives requirements for safe, equitable and efficient road use and include the need for traffic management plans, giving appropriate warnings to road users, and engaging appropriately trained and qualified persons.
  • Sale of Land Act 1962 outlines that a vendor selling a parcel of land must give the purchaser a statement outlining any existing conditions on the land (such as a Land Management Notice).
  • Wildlife Act 1975 has provisions that allow a permit or authorisation to be granted to a person to take or destroy, buy, sell, acquire, receive, dispose of, keep, possess, control, breed, process or display wildlife. Wildlife can be declared established pest animals under the CaLP Act.
Page last updated: 10 May 2021