Frequently asked questions

1. What is the NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap?

The NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap is the NSW Government’s strategic action plan to build a stronger, more competitive and ecologically sustainable forestry industry.

The Roadmap is the most positive whole-of-government plan the state’s $2.4 billion forestry and wood-manufacturing industry has seen in decades.

It outlines a triple bottom line approach to achieving social, ecologically and economic sustainability through four priority pillars:

  1. Regulatory modernisation and environmental sustainability
  2. Balancing supply and demand
  3. Community understanding and confidence
  4. Industry innovation and new markets

Under each of these four pillars, there are clear actions the NSW Government will implement.

2. Will the Roadmap result in greater economic opportunity and more jobs?

The Roadmap is about transforming, reviving and re-invigorating the industry – and securing its competitive advantage.

It will help achieve the NSW Government’s objectives of creating 150,000 new jobs, including 30,000 in regional NSW, and increase the value of the primary industry sector by 30% by 2020.

The Roadmap will also deliver the NSW Government’s objectives of maintaining key native forest values under a native forestry regulatory framework that balances economic benefits with community expectations, in a way that is efficient, outcomes-based, enforceable and reflects modern best-practice regulation.

3. The Roadmap includes a pillar called “regulatory modernisation”; how will this protect our conservation areas, national parks and reserves from harvesting?

The Roadmap is not about expanding or decreasing productive Crown native forestry areas. Conservation areas, national parks and reserves will remain unchanged and protected. The Roadmap is a tenure neutral policy platform, which means productive forestry areas will not be expanded or decreased.

4. Why does the NSW forestry industry need Government support?

The NSW forestry industry is facing a number of significant state-wide and regional challenges, including resource and regulatory uncertainty in the native forestry sector, and resource uncertainty in the plantations sector.

The NSW Government has developed a clear vision and Roadmap to ensure the forestry industry is economically viable and ecologically sustainable into the future.

The NSW Government has also determined a set of guiding principles, which will be applied to decision-making in relation to forest policy and regulation in NSW, to ensure whole-of-government consistency with the Roadmap.

5. What is the demand for wood products in Australia?

From the structures of our buildings, the furniture in our homes, to the newspapers we read, forestry products feature in almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Demand for wood is healthy – and growing. It is estimated that Australian demand for forest products will increase by around 43% by 2040*.

The population in Sydney alone is set to increase by 1.6 million to 5.86 million by 2031, which means more than 660,000 new homes will need to be built, using wood as a primary construction material.

Australia imports more forest products than it exports. With an average annual trade deficit of $2 billion, our local forestry industry is competing with cheaper imports.

It is important to have a robust NSW forestry industry to meet our demand for beautiful and sustainable timber products, as overseas imports do not always meet our rigorous environment standards.

* Commonwealth of Australia: Forest Industry Advisory Council, Discussion Paper, 2015

6. Why does the NSW Forestry Industry need a Roadmap now?

While there is a strong increase in demand for wood products, the NSW forest industry is facing a number of significant state-wide and regional challenges, including:

  • regulatory uncertainty
  • years of inappropriate or under-investment in wood resources and new processing facilities
  • uncertain access to resources
  • cheaper imports from overseas
  • a lack of community confidence and understanding.

A stronger local forestry industry is needed to drive growth, support jobs across regional NSW and meet the demand for our local and sustainable timber products.

7. How many jobs does the NSW forestry industry support and how many of these jobs are located in regional NSW?

Together with dairy, beef cattle and fishing, our $2.4 billion forestry industry has been a social and economic foundation of many communities across NSW for more than 100 years.

It has helped build our great cities and towns, and is embedded in NSW’s social fabric, culture, and economy.

42% of these jobs are based in regional NSW.

The forestry industry supports jobs in sectors such as forestry and timber harvesting, paper and wood product manufacturing, construction, logistics, trades and sales, and science and research. For many people in rural areas, including Aboriginal communities, forestry jobs are crucial in ensuring their communities’ economic diversity and sustainability.

8. What are the opportunities for the forestry industry?

Initiatives that encourage new investment, innovation and environmental sustainability are vital to the future of the NSW forestry industry. Key opportunities for the forestry industry include:

  • exploring bio and carbon economy opportunities
  • providing greater regulatory certainty
  • increasing business confidence and promoting investment
  • fixing resource supply and demand
  • supporting innovation through Research & Development
  • scope to improve community understanding and acceptance of the industry.

9. Does the NSW Government have a vision for the forestry industry and what key Government objectives does it support?

The NSW Government’s vision is for a sustainably managed forest estate that continues to support regional economies and delivers social and environmental benefits.

The vision supports four key Government objectives:

  1. Create 150,000 new jobs by 2019, including 30,000 in regional NSW.
  2. Grow the value of the Primary Industries sector by 30% by 2020.
  3. Maintain key native forest values, including threatened species; and to oversee modern, effective and transparent regulation of native forestry operations on public and private land.
  1. The NSW Government’s commitment to reform the management of the State’s biodiversity.

10. What does a ‘modern regulatory framework’ mean in practice?

Many of NSW’s native forestry regulations are outdated and overly complex, and no longer deliver the best outcomes for the community, the environment or the industry.

Native Forestry

Native forestry is currently regulated under seven pieces of legislation, resulting in duplication and inefficiency. The two tenure-based frameworks, with different objectives, approval processes and regulatory tools, create compliance challenges for industry, as well as enforcement challenges for the regulator.

The NSW Government will develop a modern and simple regulatory framework that is in line with the recommendations of the Independent Biodiversity Review Panel.

A review of the Private Native Forestry (PNF) Code of Practice will also be undertaken.

Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs)

The current IFOAs are costly to implement, inefficient and lack clarity, and penalties for forestry offences – which in many cases have not been changed since 1974 – no longer align with modern standards for environmental penalties.

The NSW Government is remaking the four existing coastal IFOAs into a single coastal IFOA, which will deliver one clear set of conditions.

The NSW Government has committed to remaking the IFOA with no erosion of environmental values and no net change to wood supply.

An independent review of the Coastal IFOA will be conducted by the Natural Resources Commission, which will be followed by public consultation on a draft new Coastal IFOA. The new IFOA is proposed to commence on 1 July 2017.

11. How will the NSW Government promote NSW timber products?

As outlined in the Roadmap, the NSW Government is committed to a more transparent regulatory framework to ensure consumers are aware of the origin of wood products and can be confident that products from NSW forests were obtained legally and harvested under a well-regulated system of sustainable forest management.

The NSW Government is committed to getting behind our local forestry industry and prioritising our local and sustainable timber products over cheaper, imported products from other countries.

The Roadmap includes key actions to promote NSW timber products, including:

  • working with the community to deliver and enforce a credible, effective and transparent forestry regulatory framework
  • convening a forum to inform a community awareness program to improve acceptance of forestry as a sustainable and renewable industry
  • providing consumers with the information they need to confidently choose a sustainable NSW timber product, through the development of practical (online) tools, published research and participation in public consultations about NSW forestry policy and regulation
  • transparent environmental and regeneration monitoring of state forests to determine the effectiveness of the IFOAs in meeting their objectives.

12. Who will review state-owned hardwood resources, and how will community feedback be gathered and considered?

Forestry Corporation of NSW currently undertakes resource modelling with a system that has been reviewed independently and continues to be reviewed (FRAMES).

The most recent independent review of the FRAMES system was in relation to the Cypress sawlog resource and found the yield estimates to be sound. Industry feedback is being sought on the report recommendations.

When further reviews of the resource modelling occurs there will be an opportunity for independent scientific feedback.

13. Won’t opening the forestry industry up to domestic and international competition put local jobs at risk?

The increased competition from cheaper imported forestry products requires the NSW industry to be more competitive. In addition to traditional housing and everyday use, the industry is cultivating new customers in new international markets.

Innovative wood fibre products produced by international forestry industries include cosmetics, car parts, electronics, bio-fuels, rayon textiles and 3D printing.

While NSW has a culture of innovation, we’ve had a slow start in this space. However, not to focus on the opportunities for the emerging bio and carbon economies would be a detriment to the NSW economy. We need to embrace competition, innovation and improve productivity in order to grow our industry.

With a strong economy, AAA credit rating and continued strong growth in economy activity, NSW is a safe and internationally competitive place to invest. The Roadmap will ensure the NSW forestry industry is well placed to participate in these opportunities which, in turn, will encourage growth in NSW business activity and contribute towards the creation of jobs in our cities and regions.

14. How will the Roadmap support the increase in homes that will need to be built in NSW, to manage forecasted population growth?

Sydney’s population alone is set to increase by 1.6 million to 5.9 million by 2031, which means more than 660,000 new homes will need to be built to support Sydney’s growing population. Wood is the primary construction material and sourcing this timber locally will put downward pressure on housing affordability.

15. How will the Roadmap address Wood Supply Agreements (WSAs)?

Certain WSAs provide little resource certainty and have reduced overall business investment.

WSAs will begin to expire on the South Coast from early 2019, creating further uncertainty in planning for investment and employment.

A comprehensive and independent review of current Wood Supply Agreements across the State will be commissioned by early 2017.

Expiring WSAs will be renegotiated to provide certainty and stability for all stakeholders into the future, while ensuring the supply of timber continues to remain ecologically sustainable. These renegotiations will commence towards the end of 2016

16. How will the Roadmap deal with some of the legacy issues on the North Coast?

Following the rebalance of long term timber supply after the Project 2023 process, the NSW Government commissioned the Natural Resources Commission in 2015 to investigate concerns from the industry on the north coast, and present a confidential issues paper to the NSW Government for consideration.

The NSW Government has commissioned an independent review of the coastal hardwood Wood Supply Agreements (WSAs) to determine the effectiveness of the contractual framework for timber supply, noting that the WSA arrangements date back to the early 2000s and much has changed since then.

The NSW Government will consider the reviews and work with industry on the north coast to investigate and resolve concerns with North Coast timber supply contracts.

17. What are the next steps now that the independent review of the Cypress resource in the Pilliga has concluded?

The independent Cypress review has concluded that the long-term timber supply estimates used to underpin Cypress WSA are sound, but has made several recommendations relating to operational timber supply issues between Forestry Corporation and their customers.

Industry participants have been briefed on the content of the report and have been asked to provide feedback on the report recommendations to the Department of Primary Industries to allow the government to further consider the recommendations.

18. Will the NSW Government negotiate with the Commonwealth Government to extend or roll over the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs)?

RFAs are 20 year agreements with the Commonwealth that, together with the NSW Forest Agreements, Integrated Forest Operation Approvals and PNF Codes, establish a framework for the conservation and sustainable management of NSW native forests.

There are three RFAs due to expire in the near future:

  • Eden in 2019
  • North East in 2020
  • Southern 2021

The NSW Government considers there is an ongoing need for RFAs in NSW and will work with the Commonwealth to determine the most appropriate form going forward.

19. Will the NSW Government increase or decrease the amount of timber that is able to be harvested from the productive native forest estate?

The Roadmap is not about implementing changes to the current areas set aside in State Forests or National Parks. Conservation areas, national parks and reserves will remain unchanged and protected. The NSW Government has committed to remaking the IFOA with no erosion of environmental values and no net change to wood supply.

20. Will the NSW Government allow timber to be harvested from National Parks?

No. The Roadmap is not about implementing changes to the current areas set aside in State Forests or National Parks. Conservation areas, national parks and reserves will remain unchanged and protected. The NSW Government has committed to remaking the IFOA with no erosion of environmental values and no net change to wood supply.

21. How much timber is harvested in our native forests each year?

There are 22 million hectares of native forests in NSW. Of these, approximately 7.5 million hectares are managed by the Crown.

75% (5,581,000 hectares) of the area managed by the Crown are “nature conservation areas” under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1975. These nature conservation areas are not available for timber harvesting.

The remaining 2 million hectares are managed by Forestry Corporation as “multiple use public forest”. Approximately 50% of this area is not available for harvesting due to various restrictions. This leaves a total of 1 million hectares available, of which approximately 30,000 hectares – or just 3% – is harvested annually. Harvesting occurs through regular thinning operations or harvesting of small patches. Clear felling in native forests is not practised in NSW. Harvested areas are regenerated predominantly through natural seed fall.

22. Isn’t native forestry uneconomic for the NSW Government and the State of NSW?

No. The native forestry sector contributes $465 million per annum to the NSW economy and directly supports more than 10,100 jobs across NSW.

FCNSW native forestry operations were also profitable in the last financial year.

23. Is the Roadmap about winding back environmental protections to allow more timber to be harvested?

No. The strong environmental protections currently in place to sustainably manage our timber industry will not be diminished as a result of this Roadmap.

The NSW Government has committed to remaking the IFOA with no erosion of environmental values and no net change to wood supply.

24. When will the Private Native Forestry (PNF) Code of Practice be reviewed, and how will industry be consulted?

The PNF review process will commence later this year with full public consultation on the process for the review. The PNF review will formally commence mid-2017 and is expected to be completed during 2018.

25. What is the purpose of that review?

The purpose of the review is to develop a modern best-practice regulatory framework, which implements recommendations from the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel’s final report, which the NSW Government has endorsed.

It is also to make the application of the regulatory framework more efficient and effective for landholders, industry and the regulator.

26. What actions in the Roadmap relate to the softwood industry?

The softwood industry in particular requires further plantation establishment to drive industry growth.

A discussion paper will be developed and released for public consultation by early 2017 that will identify barriers to investment in new softwood plantations. This discussion paper will explore all regulatory and investment barriers.

The NSW Government will work closely with the NSW Forest Industries Taskforce to finalise the terms of reference for this discussion paper, prior to it being released for public consultation in early 2017.

The Plantations & Reafforestation Act and Code will also be reviewed and regulatory barriers identified.

Initiatives that encourage new investment, innovation and environmental sustainability are key components of the Roadmap.

The NSW Government will, as a matter of priority, ask the NSW Forest Industries Taskforce to identify opportunities and put forward recommendations on:

  • a plan to foster innovation and entrepreneurship
  • identifying new markets for forests products with a focus on the low carbon economy
  • working more closely with planning and construction sectors to promote NSW timber building products.

27. What has the NSW Government done to date to support the forestry industry?

The NSW Government has been working to re-position the forestry industry to ensure long term social, environmental and economic sustainability.

The NSW Government has:

  • Established the NSW Forest Industries Taskforce which plays an important role in guiding government policy, initiatives and approaches to forest management
  • Corporatised Forests NSW in 2013, which is now as the Forestry Corporation of NSW under the direction of a commercially focussed board.
  • Committed $8.55 million in 2014 to buy back 50,000 m3 per annum for nine years from Boral to bring the supply of timber from the region’s north coast forests back to a sustainable level.
  • Following the rebalance of long-term timber supply after the Project 2023 process, commissioned the Natural Resources Commission in 2015 to investigate concerns from the industry on the North Coast, and present a confidential issues paper to the NSW Government for consideration.
  • Commissioned an independent review into the Cypress Resource to ensure the long term commitments to industry and current forest management practices are sound and sustainable
  • Invested significantly into cutting-edge Forestry Research and Development including $1.8m pa by Forestry Corporation of NSW, $1.7m over 2 years by Department of Primary Industries and $1.5m over 2 years from the Commonwealth. Programs include quantifying forest residues, a study on the extent and quality of the private native forestry resource and a mechanical fuel reduction trial to address bushfire impacts.
  • Commenced a remake of the coastal IFOAs to improve efficiency and enforceability, while remaining committed to no erosion of environmental values and no impacts to wood supply.
  • Commenced reviewing the private native forestry regulatory framework in response to the recommendations of the Independent Biodiversity Review Panel.
  • Invested $1.2m in a three-year program to map Threatened Ecological Communities in state forests, to better identify, manage and protect these sensitive areas during harvesting operations.
  • Invested more than $370,000 in koala mapping programs, to improve koala habitat identification and management in native forestry areas on private and public land.
  • Funded the development of private native forestry training materials to promote ecologically sustainable forestry practices and ensure land managers have access to high quality information to inform their decisions.
  • Ensured forestry operations are carried out within the rules and to promote continuous improvements in environmental performance.
  • Conducted regular reviews of the Regional Forest Agreements, Forestry Agreements and IFOAs to improve their effectiveness and ensure commitments have been implemented.

28. What is ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM)?

ESFM seeks to provide the economic, social and cultural benefits from forests while conserving environmental values, such as biodiversity and water quality, and sustaining the health and productivity of the forest for current and future generations.

Principles of ESFM:

  • Maintain or increase the full suite of forest values for present and future generations across the NSW native forest estate.
  • Ensure public participation, access to information, accountability and transparency in the delivery of ESFM.
  • Ensure legislation, policies, institutional framework, codes, standards and practices related to forest management require and provide incentives for ecologically sustainable management of the native forest estate.
  • Apply precautionary principles for prevention of environmental degradation.
  • Apply best available knowledge and adaptive management processes.

29. Will the Roadmap continue to deliver ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM)?

Yes. The strong environmental protections currently in place to sustainably manage our timber industry will not be diminished as a result of this Roadmap.  The Roadmap will instead better enable ESFM delivery through a more efficient, effective, outcomes-based and modern regulatory framework on both public and private tenures, which continues to recognise key differences between forestry operations on public and private land.

30. Will “reviewing the regulatory arrangements for native forestry” result in IFOA rules having to be applied to private native forestry?

No. Operating under a new modernised and best-practice regulatory framework will continue to recognise key differences between forestry operations on public and private land. Operating under a new regulatory framework will not impose IFOA style rules on private native forestry.