Why is roadside vegetation important?
Apart from the iconic features of our road network, roadside vegetation can contain many important values:
- represent the only remaining habitat for plants and animals across the landscape, including threatened species and ecological communities;
- provide important linkages and connection of habitats for native animals;
- provide seed sources for natural regeneration and local revegetation projects;
- provide a buffer against wind erosion, reduce dust, preserve soil moisture and provide shelter for livestock on adjoining land;
- help control agricultural and horticultural pests and diseases by supporting predatory insects and by deterring damaging insects; and
- protect water quality by preventing erosion and filtering pollutants.
Who is responsible for native vegetation management in roadsides?
Local Councils are responsible for native vegetation on all local roads and from the white marker to the adjoining land on National and State roads. In addition to maintaining the surfaces, edges and carriageway of roads to ensure safe access for vehicles, Council also manages roadsides to reduce vegetation fuel loads and protect any conservation values. With the exception of road safety and bushfire mitigation works, Council has a legal obligation to protect native vegetation on roadsides. Council has developed a Roadside Vegetation Management Plan to guide best practice management and maintenance of road reserves.
Native Vegetation Marker System (NVMS) (Blue Marker Sites)
Many sections of road reserve contain significant areas of native vegetation which possess valuable wildlife habitat and / or threatened plant species. To reduce the risks of these areas being damaged or destroyed, Council adopted the Native Vegetation Marker System (NVMS) to assist in their identification, management, monitoring and conservation.
There are currently 433 NVMS sites across the district, helping to protect approximately 420 kilometres of native vegetation in the road reserves. The start and end of each site is marked with a blue sign with a yellow leaf symbol displaying a unique number, which relates back to a detailed register kept by Adelaide Hills Council. The green Biodiversity Conservation sign is attached under the Blue Marker sign, and clearly set out which activities are not permitted as well as the rationale behind protecting the site.
The NVMS allows Council staff to rapidly identify significant vegetation and take the necessary actions to protect it.
See link for more information below.
Roadside NVMS Monitoring
The Roadside Native Vegetation Monitoring and Management Program is an initiative by Council to develop and implement a best practice model for monitoring and management of the NVMS network. The program is consistent with Council’s reserve monitoring program, whereby the Bushland Assessment Methodology is utilised to collect land condition data at 5 year intervals, enabling direct comparisons to be made and helping to inform future management.
The program enables Council to proactively identify and treat sites with priority habitat, threatened species or weeds, ensuring best investment of resources to support environmental sustainability and resilience. The monitoring data is used to prioritise weed control activities detailed in Council’s Roadside Weed Control Work Plan and ultimately informs the effectiveness of the management activities/programs and guide future management priorities, Council investment, collaborations and partnerships.
Can residents carry out works in a road reserve?
A verge (or nature strip) is the area between the property boundary and the kerb (or edge of the roadway) and includes the footpath.
Verge maintenance is considered a joint responsibility between Council and residents. Council undertakes an annual maintenance program to provide for road safety and fire mitigation requirements, however Council is unable to maintain all road verges in the district.
Management of verges that are not included on Council’s annual maintenance program are considered the responsibility of the adjoining landowner.
In these cases, residents are responsible for activities such as mowing, weeding, pruning, mulching or revegetation. Residents have particular obligations with regard to safety of pedestrians and motorists, by ensuring landscaping does not create sight distance issues, obstruct lighting or street signs or affect underground services when undertaking any modifications to the road verge.
Please note that all native vegetation is protected under the Native Vegetation Act, 1999 and may not be pruned or removed without formal approval. Therefore, any activity on a road verge undertaken by a resident requires permission from Council under Section 221 of the Local Government Act. See link below for the Council's Section 221 Application form to make an Alteration to a Roadside.
Weeds on Roadsides
Roads can often provide a pathway for the movement of weeds which can significantly threaten native vegetation and habitat values, agriculture, and roadside amenity values.
Certain weed species have been ‘Declared’ under the Landscapes South Australia Act 2019, due to their threats to the natural environment, primary production and public safety. Some of the common Declared Weeds of the Adelaide Hills region include species such as Blackberry, Gorse, Spanish and English Broom, Watsonia, Olive, Tree Heath, Pittosporum and Bridal Creeper. While Blackberry is a declared weed, in many circumstances, it provides important habitat for the protected Southern Brown Bandicoot, listed as threatened in the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. As such, in Bandicoot distribution range, Council may opt to manage Blackberry rather than eradicate it, in order to support local populations.
Full list of declared and environmental weed species here.
Who is responsible for the Management of Declared Weeds?
Management of declared weeds on roadside reserves is a ‘shared responsibility’. The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board are responsible for the control of declared weeds on all parts of the roadside in the region. The Landscape Board is also able to recover costs for control from adjoining landholders.
On State and National roads, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) are responsible for the management and maintenance of all other vegetation from the centre of the road to the white markers on the road shoulder. For Controlled Access Roads like the South-Eastern Freeway, Southern Expressway and parts of Main South Road, DIT have care and control of the whole roadside.
Council undertakes declared weed management annually on some roadsides through implementation of Council’s Roadside Weed Control Work Plan, which prioritises NVMS sites (Blue Marker Sites) and/or other annual maintenance programs.
Alert weeds are those weeds that would have significant impacts if they were to establish in the region and must be reported to Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board. The Board can provide advice on best control methods.
A list of alert weeds can be found on the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) website.
Landscapes Hills & Fleurieu
Mount Barker Office: 08 8391 7500
Upper Level, Corner of Main and Walker Streets, Mount Barker SA 5251
PIRSA – Weeds information - https://www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds