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In Victoria timber harvesting in state forests is permitted under the law. Commercial harvesting in these areas of state forests is managed by  VicForests - the Victorian state-owned business that harvests, sells and re-grows timber on behalf of the Victorian Government. 

Regulating timber harvesting

Environmental laws relating to timber harvesting allow natural values to be protected while providing sustainable access to timber resources.

A natural value in a forest may be a particular threatened species, a cultural heritage site, a source of clean water or something less specific like biodiversity. 

The multiple pieces of legislation related to Victorian timber harvesting outline:  

  • Where and when timber harvesting activities can occur.
  • How timber harvesting activities are conducted.

This legislation can be found on our laws page.

Together, these acts, codes, plans and orders are known as the timber harvesting regulatory framework. This framework informs our actions.

We monitor VicForests’ timber harvesting activities. Our role is to make sure that VicForests and its contractors comply with laws relating to timber harvesting.

The Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (the Code) is the primary regulatory document relevant to timber harvesting in state forests.  

What is the Code of Practice?

The code outlines the environmental standards for planning and conducting commercial timber harvesting operations. Important values including soils, water, biodiversity, recreation, cultural heritage and visual amenity are protected under the code.

It’s a legal requirement for VicForests to comply with the code.

Private land

We do not administer the operation of the Code on private land or within plantation. For more information on timber harvesting on private property and plantation harvesting, contact your local government authority.

Standards and Procedures

Within the Code are the management standards and procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria's state forests. This document provides the detailed instructions to assist any person undertaking commercial timber harvesting to comply with the Code.

How does the Conservation Regulator regulate timber harvesting in Victoria?

Commercial timber harvesting and associated activities undertaken by VicForests are regulated by the Conservation Regulator to maximise compliance with relevant law.

We do this in three main ways:

  • We prevent harm – for example, we conduct the Forest Protection Survey Program , set clear expectations on how to comply with legal obligations and manage threatened species reports.
  • We monitor compliance with the law – for example, we conduct independent audit programs and proactive compliance inspections.
  • We enforce the law – for example, we investigate alleged breaches of the law and take enforcement action.

Our surveys, audits, inspections and investigations take place in forestry coupes. Coupes are areas of forest where timber harvesting occurs.

Reports

Where an allegation is substantiated the Conservation Regulator has the power to enforce the law. Where appropriate we also apply sanctions to prevent or remedy environmental harm and deter future non-compliance.

Report something you’ve seen 

You can read about the Conservation Regulator’s approach to regulating timber harvesting in state forests, including how we enforce the law, in our Statement of Regulatory Intent. Submissions guidelines to make a forest report are here.  

How does the Conservation Regulator report to the public on timber harvesting compliance?

The Conservation Regulator reports progress in many ways. This includes reporting against the actions and performance measures in the Regulating timber harvesting in State forests under the Allocation Order – Statement of Regulatory Intent. The report will also include the results of audits and inspections against the commitments of the Victorian Forestry Plan.

We also provide regular updates to the status of reports made by the public (known as Forest Reports) regarding allegations of non-compliance with the law and reports of the presence of threatened species or other values that require protection.

The results of the annual Forest Audit Program are also made public by the Conservation Regulator.

How will the Conservation Regulator monitor and report on the Victorian Forestry Plan until it becomes law?

At the end of 2019, the Victorian Government announced the Native Forest Transition Package, part of the Victorian Forestry Plan. It supports Victoria’s forest industry to transition away from native forestry.

As part of the plan, harvesting native forests in Victoria will cease by 2030. We can only investigate possible breaches of the law and will not investigate allegations of non-compliance with the Victorian Forestry Plan policy commitments until they become law.

Until the policy commitments of the Victorian Forestry Plan become law we will:

  • Develop a guideline for consistent identification and protection of old growth forests.
  • Develop a guideline for application of modified harvesting rules for the Greater Glider.
  • Use the best available information to direct surveying to areas with high likelihood of important forest values, including old growth forests and Greater Gliders
  • Ensure that the most up-to-date results of the Forest Protection Survey Program are provided to VicForests and made available online.

Once measures from the Victorian Forestry Plan become law, we will regulate compliance through its established procedure for preventing harm, monitoring compliance and enforcing the law.

Regulating timber harvesting on steep slopes

The Conservation Regulator monitors timber harvesting coupes on steep slopes to ensure compliance with legal obligations and protect the environment. You can read more here: 

Reviewed 26 April 2021

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