Coastal integrated forestry operations approvals

The Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOA) is required to deliver ecologically sustainable forest management in NSW forests, securing a long-term forestry industry, and establishing credible, effective and enforceable environmental regulations for forestry operations.

The Coastal IFOA, which commenced on 16 November 2019, is an outcomes-based regulatory rules, with a clear hierarchy of outcomes, conditions and protocols.

The explanatory note (PDF 136KB) outlines the purpose and structure of the Coastal IFOA, the areas to which the Coastal IFOA applies and our role in enforcing the Coastal IFOA. 

The Coastal IFOA replaces the Upper North East, Lower North East, Eden and Southern IFOAs.

Conditions

The Coastal IFOA conditions (PDF 9.75MB) can only be amended jointly by the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Agriculture.

The Coastal IFOA conditions set mandatory actions and controls for protecting threatened plants, animals, habitats, soils and water.

Each condition is linked to an outcome statement. Whilst not an enforceable element of the Coastal IFOA, the outcome statements explain the intent of what the conditions are to achieve.

Protocols

The Coastal IFOA protocols (PDF 20.5MB) have been adopted by the Coastal IFOA. They set out additional enforceable actions and controls to support the effective implementation of the Coastal IFOA conditions.

The Coastal IFOA protocols are amended from time to time by the EPA (instead of the Ministers). This ensures that the Coastal IFOA can be adaptively managed to ensure it continues to deliver its intended outcomes and reflect best practice.

The following amendments have been made to Coastal IFOA Protocols in response:

Protocol 8: Local landscape areas

  • Amended on 15 November 2019 to address inefficiencies in the administrative approval process for making local landscape areas.

Protocol 23: Tree retention

  • Amended on 15 November 2019 to correct a drafting error relating to koala browse tree prescriptions.

Protocol 40: Transitional arrangements

  • Amended on 15 November 2019 to permit Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) to continue operating under former IFOAs in approved areas in response to extensive fires occurring northern NSW. This amendment improves the clarity and enforceability of these arrangements, whilst identifying the specific operational plans that can continue operating under the former IFOAs for the next 12-months.
  • Amended on 16 March 2020 to clarify the meaning of ‘koala intermediate use areas’ for application during the transition period. This amendment also updates the list of forestry operations which can continue to operate under the former IFOAs.

Protecting greater gliders

On 31 January, the NSW Environment Protection Authority amended Coastal IFOA ‘Protocol 31: Matters covered by the approval’ ahead of new protections for endangered southern greater gliders. Following further amendment on 8 February, the changes took effect on 16 February 2024.

The southern greater glider is now listed within the protocols as a species that is no longer adequately protected by the conditions of the Coastal IFOA and requires a site-specific biodiversity condition from the EPA.

The EPA has issued new protection requirements for southern greater gliders, that reflect their recent endangered species listing and their unique habitat needs.

Site-specific biodiversity condition

On 2 February a site-specific biodiversity condition for southern greater gliders was provided to FCNSW as requested by FCNSW (PDF 646KB) on 1 February.

The EPA amended the site-specific biodiversity condition on 8 February to delay its commencement to 16 February 2024.

On 16 February, the EPA again amended the site-specific biodiversity condition (PDF 257KB) to augment the conditions made on the 2 February with a new requirement for a nocturnal survey.

What are the new rules for greater gliders?

Greater gliders utilise several hollow-bearing trees within their small home ranges to den.

Numerous studies affirm that the presence of hollows is a critical factor in supporting thriving greater glider populations. This amendment requires greater glider trees to now be retained in addition to existing hollow-bearing and giant tree requirements. A greater glider tree is a large tree, which should have hollows where they exist. 

This change is poised to consistently safeguard available hollows, significantly enhancing the overall protection and preservation of these vital habitats for the species. It will also have benefits for other native animals such as bats, possums, gliders, owls and parrots that are also reliant on hollow-bearing trees.

The new rules now impose a nocturnal survey to identify gliders and glider den trees. This will further support where greater glider protections should be applied and will provide valuable information to support the adaptive management of these rules.

The new requirements:

  • continue to protect known records of greater glider dens with a 50m exclusion zone
  • require a nocturnal survey repeated over two nights and carried out by a minimum of two suitably qualified persons
  • retain, in addition to existing hollow bearing and giant tree requirements, a minimum of:
    • six greater glider trees per hectare that are 80cm> in diameter in areas of high population densities (including in Tallaganda and Flat Rock State Forests)
    • four greater glider trees per hectare that are 50cm> in lower population density areas
    • additional hollows and recruitment trees (minimum 5-8 depending on the zone) in areas where greater gliders are unlikely to occur
  • apply a new greater glider map (PDF 472KB)  that shows where these different greater glider areas occur
  • specify that FCNSW, when selecting greater glider trees for permanent retention, must prioritise hollows (especially ones with evidence of use) where they exist
  • will be supported by further guidelines to clarify how these new rules apply to ensure the best quality glider habitat is being protected
  • specify that FCNSW must undertake a monitoring program to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of these new rules for greater gliders.

Download the map of the greater glider zones in the coastal IFOA (PDF 472KB) or the greater glider spatial data set (zip 4.1MB)

Protecting koala hubs in the proposed Great Koala National Park assessment area

On 11 September 2023 the Minister for the Environment directed the EPA to consider making necessary improvements to protection measures, including through potential amendments of Coastal Integrated Forestry Operation Approval Protocols, to ensure that koala hubs (critical multi-generational resident koala populations and their habitats) within the proposed Great Koala National Park assessment area are protected.

The EPA must ensure this direction is complied with. The direction (PDF 675KB) has been published by the EPA.

The following amendments have been made to Coastal IFOA Protocols.

Protocol 31: Matters covered by the approval

  • Amended 19 September 2023 to protect koala hubs in the provisional Great Koala National Park. The amendment differentiates between:
    • koala hubs in the provisional GKNP assessment area, listing them in Part 4 of the protocol which prohibits forestry operations unless the EPA issues a site-specific biodiversity condition, and
    • maintains koalas outside of that area on the north coast in Part 2 and requiring compliance with existing protections for koalas in the IFOA.

Protocol 34: Spatial datasets

  • Amended on 19 September 2023 to add two spatial datasets to the protocol that governs how data is managed, updated and applied. The EPA has included two new spatial datasets, the “provisional GKNP Assessment Area” and “Koala Hub”.

Protocol 39: Definitions

  • Amended on 19 September 2023 to define the “provisional GKNP Assessment Area” and “Koala Hub” as maps
  • Amended definitions of species, subject species, threatened species and record to connect to the concept of the koala hubs.

Site-specific biodiversity condition

A site-specific biodiversity condition (PDF 213KB) for koalas in koala hubs in the proposed GKNP assessment area has been provided to FCNSW as requested by FCNSW on 22 September 2023 (PDF 777KB).

Spatial datasets and provisional map

Spatial datasets for the provisional map of the GKNP assessment area and koala hubs are available for download.

  • Koala hub (ZIP 99KB) Note: The Koala Hub map will be enhanced and updated by the EPA in the next few weeks to improve its resolution, accurately verify the boundaries and correct errors and anomalies.
  • Provisional GKNP assessment area (ZIP 1.2MB) Note: This map is strictly for regulatory purposes. The actual footprint of the GKNP will be determined as part of a comprehensive establishment and engagement process outlined by the Minister for the Environment on 12 September 2023.

Download the Provisional map of the Great Koala National Park Assessment Area and Koala Hubs (PDF 2.3MB)

Map showing Provisional Great Koala National Park Assessment Area and Koala Hubs

Guidance

Best practice guidance material provides further support to the interpretation and implementation of the Coastal IFOA. This guidance material will be published on our website.

These guidance documents may assist decision making or interpretation of the Coastal IFOA conditions and protocols.

Currently guidance is available regarding:

Annual return

The Forestry Corporation of NSW is required to submit coastal IFOA annual returns to the EPA.

Annual return 2021-22 (PDF 498KB)

NSW forestry implementation annual reports

We report on progress on the implementation of NSW Forest Agreements and Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) annually.

The annual report provides:

  • results of monitoring ecologically sustainable forest management criteria and indicators
  • timber supply
  • compliance with IFOAs for each region
  • achievement of milestones defined in each of the four NSW Forest Agreements.

Note: some of the links and addresses contained within the reports may have changed since the reports were tabled.

The most recent annual report is NSW Forestry Snapshot Report 2020–21 (PDF 6MB).

See the NSW forest agreements page for previous reports.

Site-specific operating conditions

For historical information on site-specific approvals for forestry operations to occur in bushfire affected forests following the 2019–20 bushfires, see Bushfire-affected forestry operations.

Transitional arrangements

The Coastal IFOA includes arrangements to transition forestry operations from old to new IFOA conditions, to ensure forestry operations that were underway or already planned at the time the Coastal IFOA was made were not disrupted. Transitional arrangements were provided in Protocol 40.

Forestry operations that were planned or approved under the relevant Upper North East, Lower North East, Southern and Eden IFOAs continued to operate and be enforced in accordance with the conditions of the relevant IFOA. Alternatively, FCNSW could elect to undertake the forestry operation in accordance with the Coastal IFOA.