|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
In 1940 the Soil Conservation Act was passed and the Soil Conservation Board was formed; in 1947 the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act (No. 5226)
was passed and the Land Conservation Authority formed, which in 1950 became the Soil Conservation Authority under the provisions of the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act 1949 (No. 5411).
- mitigation and control of erosion on and public land, including (from 1950) the power to direct land owners to remedy erosion and to impose conditions on the use of land to prevent erosion
- promotion of soil conservation including educational programmes to increase community awareness of soil erosion.
- provision of assistance to encourage landholders to participate in approved erosion control schemes and to adopt soil conservation management practices; the provision of grants towards the cost of approved works and long-term loans for extensive soil and water conservation programmes.
- determination of land-uses for all lands in proclaimed catchment areas
- protection of water catchments. Responsibility for determining land-use to ensure the continuous production of quality water in catchments to town water supplies and major storages .
- supervisory responsibility over all activities causing disturbance of the soil at altitudes over 1,200 metres including responsibility for supervisory control of earthworks and grazing on land over this altitude.
- provision of advisory and technical services to landholders and other government authorities, directed towards efficient use and development of land and on-farm water resources. In particular, advice on the prevention and control of wind and water erosion and soil salting. Provision of a service to farmers on the siting, design and survey of dams and pipeline water supply systems for stock and domestic purposes and outside irrigation areas as well as advice on irrigation developments.
- control and prevention of erosion along the Victorian coastline. Working through Committees of Management the provision of advice and financial assistance for control of erosion on coastal foreshores.
Soil erosion was noticed in Victoria as early as the 1850s and sand drift in the Mallee district was mentioned at a Royal Commission in the 1870s. For many years however, little interest was shown in the matter, since damage to lands in the settled districts was not widespread. As settlement developed and the cumulative effects of land exploitation began to be felt, soil erosion in various forms increased rapidly. In 1887, a committee of inquiry was formed to examine problems of river siltation arising from mining operations. This resulted in the formation of a Sludge Abatement Board in 1905. Severe floods in the 1890s started erosion on the banks of several Victorian rivers. In 1917, the more obvious forms of gully and stream erosion were investigated, and the Minister for Public Works called for the setting up of an Erosion Enquiry Committee which resulted in the formation of a River Erosion and Flood Protection Branch of the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission. Subsequently in the 1920s erosion in water catchments and the siltation of reservoirs were of considerable concern. Wind erosion and drifting sand were made more evident by new settlement in the Mallee district and by a succession of dry years, and in 1930 a Sand Drift Central Committee was formed which presented a report on erosion in 1933.
The Victorian Department of Agriculture conducted experiments on the control of wind erosion and sand drift at the Mallee research station at Walpeup and the Public Works Department undertook the control of coastal erosion. In 1937 the Government appointed a committee to inquire into the incidence and gravity of soil erosion in the State; its report was presented in 1938 and drew attention to widespread damage, not only in the hill catchments and in the Mallee, but also in many other farming areas. In 1940 the Soil Conservation Act was passed and the Soil Conservation Board (later Authority) was formed; subsequently regional advisory committees were appointed and a number of demonstration and experimental areas were established.
In 1945, a Bogong High Plains Committee was established and in 1946 a Royal Commission was held into the grazing of forests. This led to the passing of the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act 1947 and the formation of the Land Conservation Authority, which in 1950 became the Soil Conservation Authority. The major difference bwtween the Authority and the old Board lay in the Authority's power to direct land owners to remedy erosion, to impose conditions on the use of land to prevent erosion and to regulate the use of land in catchments.
The Land Utilisation Advisory Council, which was also established in 1950 under this legislation, had responsibility for defining catchment areas and advising the Minister and the Soil Conservation Authority on land use in any catchment area.
Between 1949 and 1973 the Soil Conservation Authority was functionally responsible to the Minister for Conservation but administratively responsible to the Premier within whose department it was located.
Following its transfer to the newly established Ministry for Conservation in 1973, the Authority reported only to Minister to Conservation. In 1984 the Minister to Conservation, Forests and Lands assumed responsibility for the Authority.
From 1984 the policy, planning and operational responsibilities of the Soil Conservation Authority were carried out by the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands. In 1987 the Soil Conservation Authority was abolished and responsibility for the statutory provisions of the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act 1958 (No.6372) were transferred to the Secretary of the Department and the Minister.
Location of Records
See List of Holdings 1985, section 3.6.22.