Our Forest Protection Survey Program (FPSP) aims to detect conservation values such as animals and plants and their habitats that are either threatened or of high conservation value in areas of state forest that are scheduled to be harvested.
We’ve designed the program to ensure our forest fauna and flora can survive and thrive. It also helps to reduce disruption and uncertainty to the timber industry.
The FPSP aims to survey at least 80% of coupes in Gippsland, the Central Highlands and North-East regions planned for harvest each year. A coupe is an area of forest where timber harvesting occurs.
The FPSP is an important conservation measure. VicForests, the business responsible for harvesting, selling and re-growing timber from Victoria's state forests, is required by law to undertake its own assessment biodiversity assessment prior to harvesting.
What are we protecting?
Harvesting trees, building roads, as well as disturbing undergrowth and ground logs can affect threatened species and their habitat. The FPSP aims to reduce these effects by surveying species. It also surveys:
- habitats such as the casuarina trees used by glossy black cockatoos
- vegetation communities identified in the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014
- old growth forest and trees with a trunk diameter at breast height greater than 2.5m
We provide survey information to VicForests.
We can’t expect these measures to protect every individual threatened animal or plant. Instead, the program ensures enough protection of habitat to allow populations to persist in perpetuity.
In Victoria, 20 mammal species, 14 bird species, 6 reptiles species, 6 amphibian species, 14 fish species, 10 crustacean species, 2 terrestrial invertebrates and 315 plant species are protected by prescriptions guarding against timber harvesting under the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014.
Critically endangered species include:
- leadbeater’s possum
Endangered species include:
- spotted-tail quoll
- southern brown bandicoot
- long-footed potoroo
- glossy black cockatoo
- smoky mouse
- trout cod
- macquarie perch
- barred galaxias
- alpine she-oak skink
- booroolong frog
- spotted tree frog
- southern barred frog
- Baw Baw frog
Species considered vulnerable include:
- flat-headed galaxias
- long-nosed potoroo
- masked owl
- yellow-bellied glider
- greater glider
- New Holland mouse
- grey-headed flying fox
- dwarf galaxias
- murray cod
- giant burrowing frog
- green and golden bell frog
- alpine tree frog
- southern barred frog
- broad-toothed rat
- brush-tailed phascogale
- Plants, mammals that live in trees and on the ground, some bird species, frogs, fish and crayfish, as well as vegetation communities.
- Leadbeater’s possum using thermal imaging, call playback and arboreal cameras.
- Use spotlighting and call playback to search for greater glider, yellow-bellied glider and various owl species.
- Use terrestrial (ground) cameras to search for potoroos, smoky mouse, dunnarts and other ground-dwelling mammals.
- Survey for aquatic species, including native fish and crayfish, in summer or autumn when stream-flows are low and water clarity is high.
The VicForests’ Rolling Operations Plan provides the basic information about what is planned to be harvested and where. We use this information, along with a wide range of other information (such as Habitat Distribution Models and species lists), to prioritise what species will be surveyed where and when.
We use the proposed date for forest harvesting to prioritise and place surveys.
Surveys are ordered according to the highest-priority species, and the process includes a desktop assessment of:
- Which coupes are planned for harvest, where and when (this data is provided by VicForests).
- Which target species are to be surveyed.
- Which survey techniques and technology (such as remote cameras and audio recorders) we can and should use.
- Seasonal variation in detecting some species of plants and animals.
- The effect of timber harvesting on each target species (depending on the species life characteristics and silviculture method).
We use the data gathered from these surveys to build a better understanding of the habitats and location of many threatened species. It also helps provide a clear guide for VicForests.
Detection of a threatened species might trigger what we call an operational management action. The aim of the action is to protect that species from the impacts of timber harvesting. Such management actions may include:
- Excluding the species and a specified area around it from timber harvesting operations by putting in place a buffer or filter strip that cannot be harvested.
- Modifying the type of timber harvesting being done to reduce the overall impact on the species.
Putting in place a Forest Management Zone (FMZ) change as required under:
We aim to complete surveys at least 2 months prior to a proposed harvest date.
We provide the results of surveys to VicForests as soon as possible so they can be considered in pre-harvest planning.
We posts results regularly on this website. They’re also available from the FPSP map-based viewer and the FPSP Survey Results Table.
Management actions vary for each species, habitat feature or community, and by geographical location. We may:
- Exclude timber harvesting within or in proximity to a detection site or identified habitat features.
- Modify timber harvesting within or in proximity to a detection site or identified habitat features.
- Establish a new Forest Management Zone, such as a Special Protection Zone or Special Management Zone, around the detection site. This helps us to manage and protect relevant habitat features, populations or individuals.
Surveys for the program were initially conducted by a team of experts, botanists and fauna specialist from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research. As the program has progressed during, we’ve engaged external companies to conduct the surveys.
Future surveys will continue to be conducted by a mix of private companies and experts from within the department.
Who is responsible for what as part of the Forest Protection Survey Program?
As the timber harvesting regulator, the Conservation Regulator has ultimate oversight of forest regulation and is responsible for auditing VicForests’ adherence with the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 and Management Standards and Procedures.
VicForests is responsible for determining management actions and applying operational prescriptions to protect values on coupes planned for harvest.
Reviewed 29 April 2021