Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy
There are three primary elements to Tasmania's approach to achieving ecologically sustainable forest management:
- the Forest Practices Code to ensure the achievement of sustainable forestry operations
- the development of a comprehensive, adequate and representative forest reserve system to securely protect nature conservation values
- the maintenance of a permanent native forest estate to ensure that we maintain the resource base for all its various production, conservation and amenity values.
The Policy for Maintaining a Permanent Native Forest Estate (the Policy) specifically addresses the third of these elements by ensuring that Tasmania maintains a permanent forest estate that comprises areas of native forest managed on a sustainable basis both within formal reserves and within multiple-use forests across public and private land.
The Policy is implemented by the Forest Practices Authority through the Authority's consideration of applications for approval of Forest Practices Plans under the Forest Practices Act 1985.
Revisions to the policy
In February 2007 a revised policy was issued to meet the requirements of Clause 45 of the May 2005 Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement. Clause 45 required that the policy describe the agreed approach to the phasing out of broadscale clearing and conversion of native forest, which was that:
- 95 per cent of the 1996 Comprehensive Regional Assessments (CRA) native forest area was to be maintained on a statewide basis.
- broadscale clearing and conversion of native forest would be phased out on public land by 2010.
- broadscale clearing and conversion of native forest on private land be phased out over a period of 10 years from 13 May 2005.
- assessment criteria for regulating forest clearing and conversion would ensure protection of regional biodiversity and water quality values and meet salinity objectives.
Broadscale clearing and conversion of native forest ceased on public land in 2010.
In the period 2009 to December 2015, the policy was revised on a number of occasions, firstly to set a limit on the rate of clearing of native forest as the statewide level of retained forest approached the 95 per cent level, secondly for the purpose of clarifying terminology and implementation mechanisms, and thirdly to enable orderly completion of a comprehensive review.
The policy is reviewed in conjunction with the five-yearly review cycle of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement. To ensure the policy and the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) remain up to date, the Tasmanian and Australian Governments agreed that a full review of the policy would be undertaken in 2015 as a related action to the RFA third five-yearly review and extension process. The review was extended in June 2016 leading to some minor amendments to the policy to provide for the extension.
The review commenced in August 2015 and has now concluded.
The review resulted in a simplification of the policy in June 2017, moving from a threshold-based approach, to a prohibition on broadscale clearing and conversion of native forest, other than in limited prescribed circumstances.