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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 It should be noted that some references on the EPAs website and any publications may now be outdated.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.
PNF is the sustainable logging of native vegetation on private property. Harvesting timber for the purposes of PNF requires approval through a private native forestry plan (PNF plan) that ensures that ecologically sustainable forest management is implemented and measures are put in place to mitigate impacts on plants, animals, soils and water. A PNF plan is a legally binding agreement between a landholder and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
Once a PNF plan is entered into landholders must implement the minimum operating standards set out in the PNF Code of Practice. For an overview of private native forestry see Overview of Private Native Forestry (PDF 217KB)
Changes to the private native forestry legislative framework commenced on 25 August 2017
On 25 August 2017, the regulatory arrangements for private native forestry changed.
The regulatory requirements for PNF are now contained within Part 5C (Private native forestry) of the Forestry Act 2012. These changes represent minimal change to the previous regulatory requirements and will have little impact on existing and proposed PNF operations.
The changes to PNF legislation are because the NSW Government has finalised and begun implementing a range of land management reforms. A new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and amendments to the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) have now commenced, bringing into place a new legislative framework for the management of native vegetation in NSW.
The Native Vegetation Act 2003 and Native Vegetation Regulation 2013, which previously set the regulatory requirements for private native forestry (PNF) have now been repealed. Information about new native vegetation arrangements can be found here.
What does this mean for PNF?
The new legislation represents minimal changes to the regulation of PNF in NSW. There has been no change to the approval, variation or termination processes for PNF and the PNF Codes of Practice remain in force:
- If you already hold a valid PNF Property Vegetation Plan, it will automatically be transitioned into the new PNF framework established by the new legislation.
- You will still be required to obtain a PNF approval (called a PNF plan) from the EPA if you want to conduct forestry operations on your property.
- Current and new PNF plans will be required to comply with the existing PNF Code of Practice.
- You will still be able to end your PNF plan or vary the area of land subject to an PNF plan through application to the EPA.
What are the key changes?
However, the following key changes have occurred as a result of new legislation commencing:
- PNF Property Vegetation Plans (PVPs) are now called PNF plans.
- All areas of land covered by a PNF plan have been mapped as category 2-sensitive regulated land under the new native vegetation regulatory map, which is prepared under the LLS Act. This ensures there is clear delineation between rural areas that are regulated under Part 5C of the Forestry Act (including the requirement to hold a PNF plan and comply with the PNF Code of Practice) and those that are regulated under new land management requirements.
- The application of the new land management codes is prohibited on any area where a PNF plan is in place.
- Allowable activities under the LLS Act are prohibited from use in areas covered by a PNF plan. Instead the LLS Regulation provides for specific PNF clearing activities, called “clearing for rural infrastructure on lands subject to a PNF plan”. These are consistent with the PNF Routine Agricultural Management Activities (RAMAS) previously prescribed.
- Penalties for not complying with the PNF plan, or the PNF Code of Practice, have increased slightly to ensure parity with other land management clearing offences.
What are the next steps?
These changes are intended to be in place only for a short period of time. The NSW government is currently preparing new native forestry legislation as announced in the NSW Forest Industry Roadmap. More information on the proposed new native forestry legislation can be found here.