Tree and shrub plantings requiring authorisation

Tree and shrub plantings requiring authorisation

In NSW tree/ shrub plantings (including the preparation for planting) over 30 hectares in total on a farm and/or plantings that involve clearing of native vegetation require authorisation from the Plantations Regulation Unit, DRNSW. This includes planting for biodiversity or carbon outcomes.

In NSW the planting of trees and shrubs for timber and non-timber purposes in non-urban areas (other than plantings principally for the purpose of the production of food or any other farm produce other than timber) is regulated by the Plantations and Reafforestation Act 1999 (the Act). Such plantings are included in the definition of a plantation under the Act.

Non-timber plantations include plantings of trees and shrubs for the protection of the environment including for the purpose of rehabilitation works, revegetation projects and plantings for the purpose of biodiversity conservation or carbon sequestration.

The objectives of the Act include facilitating the reafforestation of land and promoting and facilitating the development of timber plantations on essentially cleared land. Another object of the Act relates to the codifying of environmental standards for the establishment and management of all plantations and for harvesting of timber plantations. The environmental standards are delivered through the provisions of the Act and the Plantations and Reafforestation (Code) Regulation 2001 (the Code).

The Act requires that all plantations including plantings for biodiversity outcomes or carbon sequestration are required to be authorised where the area of plantation operations on a farm exceed 30 hectares in total.

Authorisation is also required for plantings 30 hectares and under in total where the establishment involves clearing of native vegetation (noting the clearing allowed under the Code is limited). Landholders/ forestry right owners may also choose to authorise plantations less than 30 hectares in size.

The authorisation process includes an assessment by the Plantations Regulation Unit and site inspection to ensure the protection of biodiversity, threatened species, soil, water and cultural heritage. It also incorporates fire protections with setbacks from habitable buildings and powerlines required. On authorisation the plantation owner/ manager must undertake operations in accordance with the environmental standards of the Code.

The assessment process and authorisation provide several exemptions from requiring approval under other legislation for plantation operations on an authorised plantation. The applicable exemptions are listed in Part 6 of the Act and include exemption from approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

It is also a condition of a plantation authorisation that the plantation owner notify the Minister administering the Act when they become aware of the impact or likely impact of plantation operations (including management such as weed control) on unique or special wildlife values of the land. When the Minister is notified or otherwise becomes aware, an evaluation is undertaken and a report prepared followed by a determination on whether plantation operations in the authorised plantation must be prevented, suspended or modified to minimise adverse impact on unique or special wildlife values. These unique or special wildlife values protections relate to species and communities listed as endangered or presumed extinct and provide additional protections to the threatened species assessment required for authorisation.

For more information refer to the Overview of plantation authorisation requirements and available information.