Reforms secure sustainability of NSW forests

New rules governing native forestry operations on public land in coastal NSW have been finalised, securing the forestry sector and delivering improved protections for the environment.

Minister for Lands and Forestry Paul Toole and Minister for the Environment and Heritage Gabrielle Upton today released the final Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA), following extensive public consultation.

The new Coastal IFOA provides long-term security to the $2.4 billion NSW forestry sector and the jobs it supports while delivering improved protections for environmental sustainability, biodiversity and key threatened species.

“The new Coastal IFOA delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment to strike the right balance between the environment and industry. It strengthens environmental standards at the same time as providing long term security of wood supply, and certainty to investors and the industry,” Mr Toole said.

“The new Coastal IFOA follows years of work and consultation with the community, industry and environmental groups, as well as detailed expert advice.”

The Natural Resources Commission will now undertake additional work to improve mapping of old growth forests and understanding of the NSW forest estate, supported by a $9.2 million forest monitoring and mapping initiative announced in the 2018-19 Budget.

Ms Upton said the new Coastal IFOA was a historic reform that will better protect native forests through clearer rules and increased accountability for those that do not comply.

“Penalties will be severe. On-the-spot fines for breaches increase from $1,100 to $15,000 and maximum penalties are up from $110,000 to $2 million. An intentional breach that causes significant environmental harm can now lead to a penalty as high as $5 million,” Ms Upton said.

“For the first time ever, the Coastal IFOA prescribes minimum thresholds for the permanent protection of threatened species across the landscape, as well as in each harvesting site. These permanent protections provide improved protection for native plants, animals and their habitat, streams and aquatic habitat.”

The draft Coastal IFOA was open for public consultation earlier this year. More than 3000 submissions informed development of the final document.

Some of the changes made to the IFOA in response to public feedback include:   

  • Strengthening of protections for stream headwaters in areas with higher environmental risk, nectar trees and hollow-bearing trees
  • Increasing requirements for identifying and managing biosecurity risks in the forest

More information about the new Coastal IFOA, including a fact sheet and the full Coastal IFOA, is available here.