Agency VA 1056
Soil Conservation Authority (previously known as Soil Conservation Board 1940-1947; Land Conservation Authority 1947-1950)
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Date Range: 1940 - 1987
 
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).

Functions

- 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.

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 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.

Administrative Arrangements

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.

 
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1936 - ? 2005 Publications, Reports and Memorabilia VPRS 17749 North Melbourne Open
? 1938 - ? 1985 Other Photographs VPRS 14747 North Melbourne Open
? 1940 - ? 1958 Photographs and Photo Negatives, Sequentially Numbered with Alpha Prefix VPRS 14751 North Melbourne Open
? 1947 - ? 1984 Subject Correspondence Files, Numeric, Alpha Numeric, Charlton District VPRS 16654 North Melbourne Open
? 1950 - ? 1988 General Correspondence Files, Alpha Numeric VPRS 16641 North Melbourne Open
? 1960 - ? 1985 Landholders File Register, Self Indexed VPRS 16642 North Melbourne Open
? 1960 - ? 1985 Publicity Files, Unregistered, Charlton District VPRS 16657 North Melbourne Open
? 1962 - ? 1968 General Correspondence Files, Multiple Number System, Charlton District VPRS 16656 North Melbourne Open
? 1977 - ? 1985 Soil Management Programs, Photographic Slides, Charlton District VPRS 16659 North Melbourne Open
1940 - 1954 Photo Negatives, Sequentially Numbered VPRS 14743 North Melbourne Open
1950 - 1956 Photo Negatives VPRS 14746 North Melbourne Open
1951 - 1952 General Subject Files VPRS 14741 North Melbourne Open
1951 - 1966 Index to Slides VPRS 14748 North Melbourne Open
1951 - 1966 Register of Slides VPRS 14749 North Melbourne Open
1952 - 1956 Subject Index to VPRS 14740 Photographs and to VPRS 14743 Photo Negatives VPRS 14739 North Melbourne Open
1954 - 2001 Studies and Management Plans on improving land and water resources, Research Division VPRS 16658 North Melbourne Open
1957 - 1959 Photographs and Photo Negatives, Sequentially Numbered VPRS 14744 North Melbourne Open
1957 - 1959 Subject Index to VPRS 14744 Photographs and Photo Negatives, Sequentially Numbered VPRS 14745 North Melbourne Open
1960 - 1983 Map Collection, Single Number System VPRS 16660 North Melbourne Open
1971 - 1972 Photo Negatives, Alpha Numeric System VPRS 14750 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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- 1984 Soil conservation VF 178
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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1940 - 1973 Department of the Premier (also known as Premier's Department 1960-1982) VA 2717
1973 - 1983 Ministry for Conservation VA 551
1983 - 1987 Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands VA 1034
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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Related AgenciesRelated Agencies
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1940 - 1949 Premier VRG 50
1949 - 1983 Conservation VRG 55
1983 - 1987 Conservation, Forests and Lands VRG 75