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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 VicForestsExternal Link - 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 purpose of the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 is to provide direction to the managing authority (VicForests), harvesting entities and operators to deliver sound environmental performance when planning for and conducting commercial timber harvesting operations.

The effective implementation of the Code helps to ensure that timber production is compatible with the conservation of the wide range of values associated with forests.

It’s a legal requirement for timber harvesting operators to comply with the Code.

A revised Code of Practice for Timber Production came into effect on 6 June 2022, and can be found here:

Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014External Link

Schedule 1 of the Code of Practice for Timber Production is 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.

Exemptions from the Management Standards and Procedures

An exemption from the Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State Forests 2021 (MSP) can be requested for the following reasons:

  • Seed collection
  • Roading in Special Protection Zones
  • Regeneration or rehabilitation works
  • Use of existing coupe infrastructure
  • Timber harvesting operations in a water supply protection area
  • Camp site or shower units associated with timber harvesting operations not located on a coupe

The authority to determine applications for MSP exemptions is delegated by the Minister for Energy Environment and Climate Change to the Chief Conservation Regulator.

A register of decisions made by the Chief Conservation Regulator on applications for MSP exemptions can be found here:

MSP Exemption Register of DecisionsExternal Link

Private land

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

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. You can use these submissions guidelines to make a forest report.

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:

Please note that in November 2021 changes were made to the prescriptions related to the conduct of timber harvesting on steep slopes in Water Supply Protection Areas as a result of amendments to the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 and its incorporated documents. The Conservation Regulator will continue to monitor timber harvesting on steep slopes, in accordance with relevant laws applicable at the time of any activity being undertaken.

Dispute resolution

Where any additional information or further explanation as to the results of a threatened species report or allegation of non-compliance is sought, the Conservation Regulator encourages you to contact us by email at forest.reports@delwp.vic.gov.au.

If you disagree with a decision made by the Timber Harvesting Compliance Unit, you can seek a review by the relevant director by emailing conservationregulator@delwp.vic.gov.au.

If you are still unsatisfied, complaints about an action or decision made by a Victorian public organisation can be lodged with the Victorian Government Ombudsman. For more information on this process, please visit https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.auExternal Link .

Reviewed 03 August 2022

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