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Clearing Control Catchments
Responsible agency
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
Clearing Control Catchments are proclaimed under the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947 to limit the clearing of indigenous vegetation in some existing or potential water supply catchments in the South West of W.A. where the permanent clearing of indigenous vegetation would cause salinisation of water resources.

In response to the deterioration of the Wellington Dam reservoir salinity, the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947 (CAWS Act) was amended in 1976 to include Part IIA “Control of Catchment Areas” and the Wellington Dam Catchment Area was proclaimed under the Second Schedule of the CAWS Act to become “Controlled Land”.  The legislation introduced the need for land owners and occupiers of controlled land, including government agencies responsible for the management of crown land, to obtain a Licence to Clear prior to undertaking any clearing of indigenous vegetation. 

In 1978 the Mundaring Weir and Denmark River Dam catchments were also proclaimed and added to the Second Schedule because of the salinity threat to their water supply reservoirs.  At the same time the other major potential south west water supply source catchments of the Donnelly River, Warren River, Deep River and Kent River were proclaimed as CAWS Act Water Reserves to restrain land uses that could cause a deterioration of water resources.  There was however relatively little alienated land, and consequently insignificant potential for clearing, in the Donnelly and Deep River catchments hence only the Warren and Kent Rivers were added to the CAWS Act Second Schedule and made subject to the clearing control legislation.

Following the construction of the Harris River Dam in 1990, this catchment was excised from the Wellington Dam catchment and reproclaimed as a separate CAWS Act Catchment Area to allow the application of different CAWS Act By-laws. Hence there are now six South West river catchments where CAWS Act clearing controls apply:

  • Mundaring Weir Catchment Area;
  • Wellington Dam Catchment Area;
  • Harris River Dam Catchment Area;
  • Warren River Water Reserve;
  • Kent River Water Reserve; 
  • Denmark River Catchment Area.

In general the clearing controls have been administered to allow small scale clearing for essential farm management works but large scale agricultural development was not licensed, particularly in zones of high salinity risk. Government works, eg powerline easement clearing, in all salinity risk zones is normally licensed subject to the establishment of offset revegetation areas in the same or higher salinity risk zone.

Note: In July 2004, new Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) Regulations that deal with the clearing of native vegetation throughout Western Australia were implemented.

Under these regulations any clearing of native vegetation in Western Australia must be authorised, except if an exemption applies, by the granting of an EP Act Permit that is administered by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. A CAWS Act Licence to Clear is still required in the above catchments if:

  • an EP Act exemption applies, or
  • if compensation has previously been paid to retain the subject vegetation. In this situation both a CAWS Act Licence and an EP Act Permit are required before any clearing may be undertaken.

For more information contact our office on (08) 6364 7800, or see 

Date updated
05/07/2017 17:20:03