Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Native forestry

Native forestry regulatory reforms

The NSW Government is developing new native forestry legislation to improve the environmental regulation of native forestry.

The new legislation will be based on the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management, as described in the Regional Forest Agreements. This will ensure the ongoing protection of biodiversity and habitat, and the long-term ecological sustainability of forestry in NSW.

The new legislation will underpin a rigorous and robust regulatory framework with modern penalties for environmental offences and a suite of regulatory tools, to better protect streams, threatened species and sensitive ecological communities in forest areas across the state. The framework will balance economic benefits with community expectations, in a way that is efficient, outcomes based, enforceable and reflects modern best-practice regulation.

The need for reform

Many of NSW’s native forestry regulations are outdated and overly complex, and are no longer delivering the best outcomes for the community, the environment and the industry.

Native forestry is currently regulated under seven pieces of legislation which has resulted in duplication and inefficiency. Penalties for forestry offences – which in many cases have not been changed since 1974 – no longer align with modern standards for environmental penalties.

The current regulations are tenure-based, which means that different approval processes and regulatory options apply on public land as compared to private land. This creates compliance challenges for industry and enforcement challenges for the regulator.

The new regulatory framework will regulate based on scale and intensity rather than tenure, as recommended by the Independent Biodiversity Review Panel (PDF 1.42MB), and will continue to recognise key differences between forestry operations on public and private land.

Public native forestry

The new native forestry regulatory framework will provide for the new Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA). The Natural Resources Commission is currently conducting an independent review of the Coastal IFOA to ensure that it is efficient, effective, and enforceable, and that the remake delivers no erosion of environmental values or reduction of wood supply.

The draft Coastal IFOA is expected to be released for public consultation in early 2017.

Private native forestry

The government will undertake a review of the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice (the Code) once the remake of the Coastal IFOA is completed. The government will shortly commence public discussion around the process for the review, with the review to commence later in 2017, with full public consultation.  

Timeline of reforms

Short term: until mid-2017

Medium term: 2017 and 2018

  • Commencement of the new native forestry regulatory framework, including modernised penalties and regulatory tools for native forestry offences.
  • Commencement of the new Coastal IFOA.
  • Public consultation and finalisation of the review of the Regional Forestry Agreements and NSW Forest Agreements.
  • Commence review of the PNF Code of Practice, with full public consultation.
  • Commencement of a review of IFOAs for Brigalow-Nandewar, South Western Cypress and Riverina Red Gum, with full public consultation.

Long term: 2018 and beyond

  • Commencement of new PNF Code of Practice.
Page last updated: 25 August 2016