Managing native vegetation to prepare for a bushfire
Different conditions apply to managing vegetation prior to, during and after a bushfire emergency.
This information is provided as guidance to landholders on management of native vegetation in rural areas during a bushfire emergency.
What kind of native vegetation clearing can I do to prepare my property for a bushfire?
As a landholder you have five possible pathways:
- Managed bushfire hazard reduction work
- Clearing under the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice
- Allowable activities under the land management framework
- Clearing as directed by an electricity network operator
- Ordinary clearing rules under the land management framework
Managed bushfire hazard reduction work
Managed bushfire hazard reduction work includes establishing or maintaining fire breaks and fire trails on land and certain controlled approved back burning operations such as those conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service. There are eligibility rules that limit bushfire hazard reduction clearing to certain kinds of land. Once eligible, you must seek a bushfire hazard reduction certificate from the NSW Rural Fire Service.
A bushfire hazard reduction certificate issued by the NSW Rural Fire Service will inform you exactly what work is authorised and where, and set out any conditions that apply. The hazard reduction work must also comply with a bush fire risk management plan and bush fire code that apply to the land.
For more information on carrying out managed bushfire hazard reduction work, head to the NSW Rural Fire Service's Plan and Prepare page, for information including on farm fire safety, grass fires, fire trails, and safe burning.
Clearing under the 10/50 Vegetation Code of Practice
The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice (the 10/50 Code) allows a landholder in a designated 10/50 Vegetation
Clearing Entitlement Area, to manage bushfire risk by clearing:
- Certain vegetation within 10 metres of homes and farm sheds; and
- Certain underlying vegetation such as shrubs (but not trees) on their property within 50 metres of a home or farm shed.
You must meet certain conditions before clearing can take place under this pathway. Key conditions include:
- Ensuring the land is mapped as 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement land (i.e. bushfire prone land that is not a declared Aboriginal Place as mapped by the Office of Environment and Heritage) (you can check this on the NSW Rural Fire Service website);
- Permission of the land owner has been obtained, if the landholder is not the owner;
- If a clearing to protect a home, the home is an approved dwelling on the land;
- If clearing to protect a farm shed, the shed can lawfully be used as a shed on the land;
- The clearing of vegetation including trees is not allowed within 10 metres of a lake, or a river that is two metres or more in width between the highest opposite banks.
There are more terms and conditions that relate to clearing under the 10/50 Code. Check with the NSW Rural Fire Service for more information and an online tool to check your eligibility.
The ‘allowable activities’ clearing rules provide some protection to structures from fire, including rural infrastructure and private power lines.
In order to be eligible to apply the allowable activities rules to clear vegetation as discussed below, the land must be located within an allowable activity zone in NSW and be Category 2 under the land management framework. There are exceptions and limitations to these rules. We encourage landholders to contact Local Land Services for advice on their individual circumstances.
If you are an eligible landholder you can undertake certain clearing without any written approval being required, provided all relevant conditions are complied with. Allowable clearing activities for eligible landholders preparing for bushfires include:
- Clearing to protect and maintain public supply of essential services including water, electricity, gas and telecommunications, including privately owned power lines on private land;
- Clearing on Regulated rural land to protect and maintain certain rural infrastructure;
- (In the Western Zone only), clearing of native vegetation for a firebreak to a maximum distance of 100 metres where the native vegetation predominantly comprises mallee species.
Clearing under the allowable activities may only take place to the minimum extent necessary.
See the Allowable activities for landholders fact sheet for more information on the full range of allowable activities.
Clearing as directed by an electricity network operator
Landholders may be issued with a written direction by an electricity network operator to carry out certain vegetation
- bush fire prevention purposes, and
- taking action in relation to buildings, on bush fire prone land.
If you are a landholder who has been issued with such a direction, we encourage you to contact Local Land Services
for advice on how to comply.
Ordinary clearing rules under the land management framework
You can find out more on clearing under the land management framework in non-emergency situations in our Fact Sheets section.
Where can I get more information?
Local Land Services offers local support to landholders in the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery stages of a bushfire emergency.
We are on hand to offer advice and up-to-date information. Contact us on1300 795 299 or call into your nearest Local Land Services office.
Further fact sheets are available including Managing native vegetation during a bushfire emergency and Managing native vegetation after a bushfire emergency.
The information provided here refers to land classified as regulated rural areas. If you are not sure of the classification of your land, contact Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 or call into your nearest Local Land Services office.
Native vegetation is any plants native to NSW including trees, understorey plants, groundcover and plants occurring in a wetland. A plant is native to NSW if it was established in NSW before European settlement.