For the purposes of planning, forestry is divided into two categories – public and private forestry. Public forestry refers to forest operations conducted on public or Crown land, with the responsibility for planning and management of these areas lying exclusively with Forestry Tasmania. Private forestry refers to operations conducted on private land, and includes a variety of logging operations from large-scale operations conducted by a large forestry or investment company, to the smaller-scale operation of an individual landowner. Both types of forestry operate within an essentially self-regulated industry – while the forest practices system is overseen by the Forest Practices Authority, most planning, management, monitoring, research and enforcement is generally carried out within the industry itself.
The major legislation relating to forestry operations in Tasmania is the Forest Practices Act 1985. This Act establishes a number of important planning and management components, including:
- Forest Practices Plans (FPP) – these are site-specific operational plans that describe how forestry activities must be carried out. An FPP must be submitted and certified before any forest practices can be carried out. Subject to some exemptions, it is an offence to carry out forest harvesting without a certified FPP, and an offence to purchase timber harvested without an FPP. It is a statutory requirement that a Forest Practices Plan be prepared in accordance with the Forest Practices Code. See the EDO Handbook entry on Forestry for a comprehensive list of exceptions to requirements for an FPP (such as small scale harvesting, harvesting associated with approved buildings or utilities), and what constitutes ‘vulnerable land’ on which any amount of clearing requires an FPP.
- Forest Practices Code – This is the major management document applying to forestry operations in Tasmania. The Code provides management prescriptions for forest practices to ‘provide reasonable protection for the environment’, including the width of streamside reserves, road construction, threatened species and cultural heritage protection. It is an offence to carry out forestry operations in breach of the Code, but the only means of making a complaint as a member of the public is to make a complaint to the Forest Practices Authority (FPA). You can download the Forest Practices Code from the FPA website.
- Private Timber Reserves – Private Timber Reserves (PTRs) are the major planning unit for private forestry in Tasmania. A PTR is an area set aside for private forestry activities and must be used for establishing forest, harvesting timber and associated activities. Forestry activities carried out on a PTR are exempt for the provisions of a planning scheme under the Land Use and Planning Approval Act (LUPAA) and do not require a planning permit (although an FPP is still required). The local council, relevant State agency or a owner of adjoining property within 100 metres who will be ‘directly and materially disadvantaged’ may object to the declaration of a PTR.
- Forest Practices Authority (previously the Forest Practices Board) – The FPA is responsible for administering the forest practices system. The FPA certifies Forest Practices Plans, assesses applications for PTRs, develops and monitors compliance with the Forest Practices Code.
- Forest Practices Tribunal – The Tribunal is an independent body responsible for determining appeals brought under the Act, including applications for PTRs or appeals regarding a Forest Practices Plan. Rights of third parties to appeal to the Tribunal are very limited.
You can find current information on the composition of the Tribunal, and the Forest Practices Authority at the FPA website.
Access to State forests
Forestry Tasmania has the right to deny public access to timber production areas, in particular, the use of forestry roads. Importantly, Forestry Tasmania is empowered to prevent access in certain instances. A forest management plan may specify that the whole or any part of the land to which it applies is a restricted area to which the public does not have access.
In addition, Forestry Tasmania may close a forest road or any section of forest road to vehicular or pedestrian traffic if it considers the closure necessary to discharge its responsibilities or in the interests of safety. This closure may be temporary or permanent, however there is an obligation for Forestry Tasmania to consult with a local council if it intends to close permanently a road that is subject to significant public usage. It is an offence to walk onto, drive or use a vehicle on a forest road or a section of forest road designated by Forestry Tasmania as closed to the public.