Function VF 178
Soil conservation
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  • Use this Function for
    Functions exercised under the provisions of the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act 1958 (No.6372) and previous legislation, including: 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 The promotion of soil conservation including educational programmes to increase community awareness of soil erosion. LandCare programmes (first established in 1986 and jointly sponsored by the Government and the Victorian Farmers Federation.) The 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. Funds provide through the LandCare programme via the Land Protection Incentive Scheme after 1986 and through the National Soil Conservation Program. The determination of land-uses for all lands in proclaimed catchment areas (via the the Land Conservation Council from 1971 onwards) The 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. The 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 and 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. The 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. Programmes undertaken as part of the "Restoring the Land" component of the State Conservation Strategy first launched in 1987. The Land Protection Council (the Minister's main farmer advisory body) formed as part of this strategy.

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    Salinity control Sludge abatement Water supply (rural)

Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function
Background 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 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. The Board's functions were principally research, advice an co-ordination of the activities of government departments insofar as they affected soil conservation. The Premier took a prime role in the sponsorship of soil conservation from the late 1930's until a Minister for Conservation (VRG 55) was appointed in 1949. The staff of the Soil Conservation Board/Authority, established in 1940 by the Soil Conservation Act (No.4786), continued to be located within the Premier's Department (VA 2717) until they were transferred to the Ministry for Conservation (VA 551) in 1973. From 1940 staff of the Soil Conservation Board, later the Soil Conservation Authority (VA 1056), were located in the Department, although from 1949 they reported to the Minister for Conservation (VRG 55). Responsibility was transferred to the Ministry for Conservation (VA 551) in 1973. 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 between 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. 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. New Legislation In 1994 the Catchment and Land Protection Act was passed, establishing the Victorian Catchment and Land Protection Council to advise the Minister on matters relating to catchment and land protection. Victoria was divided into ten regions, each with a regional board with the principal task of developing regional catchment management strategies which would address the key land and water degradation issues in each of these regions. The Council was reconstituted in 1997 as a statutory authority and renamed the Victorian Catchment Management Council. At the same time the Soil Conservation and Utilisation Act 1958 was repealed by the Environment Conservation Council Act 1997 with the Land Conservation Council being replaced by the Environment Conservation Council.
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  • Related Functions
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    Agriculture VF 245
    Crown lands (public) VF 309
    Salinity VF 406
    Water supply VF 418
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Other InformationOther Information
Agencies with prime responsibility for this FunctionAgencies with prime responsibility for this Function
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Date of Responsibility Agency Title Agency Number
- 1984 Soil Conservation Authority (previously known as Soil Conservation Board 1940-1947; Land Conservation Authority 1947-1950) VA 1056
1984 - 1990 Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands VA 1034
1990 - 1992 Department of Conservation and Environment VA 3004
1992 - 1996 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources VA 3097
1996 - cont Department of Natural Resources and the Environment VA 3972
2002 - 2013 Department of Sustainability and Environment VA 4554
2013 - 2014 Department of Environment and Primary Industries VA 5002
2015 - cont Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources VA 5034
2015 - cont Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning VA 5036
Other Agencies responsible for this FunctionOther Agencies responsible for this Function
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Date of Responsibility Agency Title Agency Number
2002 - 2013 Department of Primary Industries VA 4563
Groups related to this FunctionGroups related to this Function
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Date of Responsibility Group Title Group Number
- 1949 Premier VRG 50
1949 - 1983 Conservation VRG 55
1983 - 1990 Conservation, Forests and Lands VRG 75
1990 - 1996 Conservation and Environment VRG 94
1996 - cont Environment and Conservation (previously Conservation and Land Management) VRG 123