NSW Forestry Policy Framework

New South Wales has a comprehensive system for delivering Ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM) within the NSW forested estate. This framework is described in the Overview of the NSW Forest Management Framework. This document is updated as required, see versions below.

The Framework includes overarching policy and legislation, institutional and administrative arrangements, and associated planning and operational systems. It is complemented by adaptive management and a continual improvement process incorporating research findings and feedback processes associated with compliance and enforcement systems, stakeholder engagement and monitoring and review mechanisms.

The Framework document describes the legislative and policy arrangement for forest management in NSW and applies to all forests, across all land tenures. Land tenure refers to the ownership or management of land. For detailed information regarding the management and regulatory oversight of forestry operations in NSW see the Overview of the NSW Forest Management Framework v1.1 2021 (PDF, 1591.39 KB).

Regional Forest Agreements

Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are long term bilateral agreements between the Australian Government and four State Governments and are given statutory effect under the Commonwealth Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002 (RFA Act).

The RFAs provide a streamlined approach to satisfy Commonwealth legislative requirements, this includes environmental planning, assessment and conducting forestry operations.

In addition, RFAs work to reduce regulatory duplication between the States and Commonwealth frameworks. The NSW RFAs are implemented through the NSW Forest Management Framework.

RFAs seek to balance economic, social and environmental outcomes for forests by setting obligations and commitments for forest management.

The obligations and commitments of RFAs deliver:

  • certainty of resource access and supply to industry, building investment confidence
  • ESFM, ensuring forests are sustainably managed and regenerated
  • an enhanced and permanent forest conservation estate, to provide for the protection of Australia's unique forest biodiversity.

They are long-term agreements that provide for the sustainable management and conservation of Australia's native forests and are reviewed every five years. See a list of regulatory reviews here.

More information:

Forest Operations

Native forest operations are part of the active and adaptive management of forests in NSW. This is the harvesting (felling) of trees to produce wood products. This is part of a broader system of practices and activities for conservation, stewardship and productive use of forest land, aimed at fulfilling desired environmental, economic and social functions and community objectives for the forest.

Crown timber land in NSW is the publicly owned State forest, timber reserves and other land on which a range of forest values are managed by State Government agencies in accordance with relevant Acts and Regulations. Forest values can include provision of wood for harvest, supply of water, upholding cultural heritage and practices, activating conservation of biodiversity, recreation, and environmental protection. Forest health and vitality are enhanced through active management, weed and pest control, bushfire and biosecurity preventative action.

Native Forestry Operations on Crown Timber Land

Native forestry operations carried out on State forests, timber reserves and other Crown timber lands (which includes some leasehold tenures) are authorised by the Forestry Corporation of NSW (a State-owned corporation) under the Forestry Act 2012 and Forestry Regulation 2022. These forest operations are licensed through Integrated Forest Operations Approvals which are regulated for environmental compliance by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) set environmental rules for how native forestry operations can be carried out in NSW State forests and NSW Crown timber lands. The EPA independently inspect these operations to make sure the rules are followed.

Native Forestry Operations on Private Land

Native forestry operations on privately owned freehold and leasehold lands are known as private native forestry (PNF) or Farm Forestry. These forests are managed under private ownership, as well as privately managed leasehold forest. Private land that is owned and managed by the Crown is in practice also classified under privately managed forest.

The primary legislation for regulating and managing native forestry operations on private land in NSW is the Local Land Services Act 2013 (NSW) (LLS Act) which provides for the regulation of native vegetation management on private land and the authorisation and regulation of private native forestry operations.

The Forestry Legislation Amendment Act 2018 transferred responsibility for the regulation of private native forestry to Local Land Services, with the Environment Protection Authority maintaining its enforcement role.

Part 5C of the Forestry Act 2012 regulates the harvesting of native vegetation for the purposes of private native forestry on freehold land and on leases that are not Crown timber leases. Harvesting activities are authorised through private native forestry property vegetation plans (PVPs), which are issued by Local Land Services and independently audited by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

Plantation Forestry

Plantation forestry involves the establishment and management of planted forests for environmental purposes and or commercial timber production. Plantation establishment and forestry operations on both Crown land (including State forest) and freehold land are regulated by the Plantations and Reafforestation Act 1999, and the Plantations and Reafforestation (Code) Regulation 2001. DPI Forestry have responsibility for authorising plantations, and for auditing plantation establishment and forest operations for compliance.

For more information go to Plantations Regulation.

For more information, go to the Overview of the NSW Forest Management Framework v1.1 2021 (PDF, 1591.39 KB).