In May 2016, a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) completed its inquiry into Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria). One of the MAC’s recommendations was for Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to ‘develop a comprehensive database of contaminated sites’. The Victorian Government supported this recommendation and asserted that ‘a public database providing consistent and easily accessible, statewide site history information will be developed to assist with the identification of potentially contaminated sites’. More on the progress of this database is provided in indicator L:09 (Contaminated sites).
A couple of relevant audits within the land-health sector have been completed during the past decade by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office. The audit topics were Soil Health Management (October 2010) and Enhancing Food and Fibre Productivity (August 2016)., The 2010 audit recommended the development of agreed soil-health indicators and monitoring programs to assess soil-health status and trends over time. The Soil Health Strategy released by DELWP in July 2012 responded to the 2010 audit. This strategy included an action to identify key performance indicators that effectively and pragmatically measure the impact against departmental and regional priority environmental assets, using monitoring programs to collect the data required. The 2016 audit recommended that the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) develop or utilise external performance measures to provide assurance that changes in agricultural practices and productivity are not affecting the long-term sustainability of the natural resources base. In its response to the audit, DEDJTR agreed to seek to incorporate indicators of the long-term sustainability of the state’s natural resource base as part of the agriculture-industry component of the DEDJTR-wide Outcomes Framework.
To address the challenges associated with measuring statewide changes to soil health, Agriculture Victoria is working with the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performing Soils to ascertain key soil properties that could form the basis for soil performance indicators. To support this, Agriculture Victoria has recently completed work to update its data systems for improved data sharing and accessibility. Another project designed to improve access to both public and private data includes the Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia (funded by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network and the National Research Infrastructure for Australia).
The Australian Government has invested $1 billion in the National Landcare Program over four years from 2014–15 to 2017–18. The program is designed to address problems such as loss of vegetation, soil degradation, the introduction of pest weeds and animals, changes in water quality and flows, and changes in fire regimes. Over the coming five years, from 2018–19 to 2022–23, the Australian Government will invest more than $1 billion in a second phase of the National Landcare Program.
In 2017, Agriculture Victoria released the Agriculture Victoria Strategy. The strategy noted the agriculture sector was continuing to make a major contribution to Victoria’s economic and employment growth even though the nature of farming has changed dramatically in recent decades. This strategy is a reform framework, articulating Agriculture Victoria's priorities to enhance the global competitiveness, innovation and resilience of the state’s agriculture.
Parks Victoria works with Traditional Owners to manage parks and reserves. The Managing Country Together framework provides both practical and symbolic recognition of Traditional Owner rights, underpins enduring partnerships with Traditional Owners and strengthens sector capacity in joint protected area and cultural heritage management.