Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Native forestry

Review of old growth forests and rainforests

Page under review

On 25 August 2017, new legislative arrangements commenced for private native forestry. It should be noted that some references on the EPAs website and any publications may now be outdated. These documents will be progressively updated by the EPA to ensure current legislative arrangements are reflected. More detail about the changes are available.

In 2010, protocols for the identification of rainforests and old growth forests were reviewed. This quality assurance process was designed to ensure existing protocols and procedures protect rainforests and old growth forests, and to make improvements where necessary.

The review had five terms of reference, which were:

  1. consistency and accuracy of Property Vegetation Plans (PVPs) as they relate to rainforest and old growth forest assessment procedures developed to implement the protocols
  2. adequacy of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) processes to accurately represent the intent of the protocol and to provide sufficient and detailed documentation to justify assessment decisions
  3. rigor, repeatability and reliability of aerial photo interpretation and field assessment processes, with reference to precautionary field validation
  4. to identify any areas of the protocol that are ambiguous or unclear
  5. other observations about the adequacy of OEH’s approach to identify and therefore achieving protection of rainforests and old growth forests.

The review found that protocol implementation was working very well for rainforests and was identifying them with a high level of accuracy. However, it found that the implementation of old growth forest protocols was highly variable and problematic, and had apparently resulted in some areas of old growth forest being potentially available for harvest.

The review made some recommendations to improve the assessment of old growth forests, including the use of good quality imagery and significantly increased fieldwork by aerial photo interpreters.

In 2010 a report was produced that documented the outcomes of the review of the assessment protocols interpretation and implementation. A copy of the report can be downloaded using the links below:

The EPA and OEH have made considerable progress in implementing the recommendations of the Review, including:

1. Improving technologies and techniques used in assessments by implementing the recommendations from the quality assurance report.

In summary:

  • Progressive transition to the use of 3D-capable digital imagery captured within the last five years and interpreted on-screen in a 3D environment. The OEH has adopted this technology where available and completed the transition to its use for all coastal areas.
  • Aerial photo interpreters now undertake field work for old growth and rainforest assessment where altering Comprehensive Regional Assessment Forestry Type Inventory (CRAFTI) status is likely. The level of field work required ensures a suitable range of sampling to validate aerial photo interpretation work.
  • Annual old growth field assessment calibration exercises are being conducted. Internal calibration exercises are being held to ensure transect measurement is carried out consistently. Calibration exercises with external stakeholders were held in late 2012.
  • The OEH has implemented a peer-review process of old growth assessment.

2. Developing of a public register for old growth forest and rainforest assessments

This public register shows the outcome of each assessment, while protecting personal information.

3. Evaluating the old growth forest protocols to incorporate the findings of the review.

A review of the old growth forest protocols has commenced. Targeted consultation with stakeholders on the draft revised protocol is expected to take place as part of a comprehensive review of the PNF Code of Practice.

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Page last updated: 04 September 2017