According to section 31 of the Forest Practices Act 1985 (the Act) the purpose of the Forest Practices Code (the Code) is to prescribe the manner in which forest practices shall be conducted so as to provide reasonable protection to the environment.
The Tasmanian Forest Practices Code was the first in Australia and is central to the forest practices system. It is the only forest code in Australia, and one of a very few world-wide, to apply equally to public and private land. The code is legally enforceable under the Forest Practices Act 1985 . The code is applied in accordance with a guiding policy that explains the contribution to be made by the code towards sustainable forest management in Tasmania. The guidelines and standards in the Forest Practices Code cover:
- building access into the forest (roads, bridges, quarries etc.)
- harvesting of timber
- conservation of natural and cultural values (soil and water, geomorphology, visual landscape, botany, zoology and cultural heritage)
- establishing and maintaining forests.
The FPA developed the code through extensive consultation and public comment. It is reviewed periodically, incorporating suggestions from scientists, government, the forestry industry and the public.
Review of the Code
In 2017 the FPA commenced a review of the Code and found that:
- The role of the Code in facilitating compliance with the forest practices system could be enhanced by cross-referencing it more closely to the Act and by prescribing specific inclusions for forest practices plans.
- The reliance in the Code on references to technical documents produced by organisations other than the Forest Practices Authority, or legislation other than the Act or Regulations, was a source of some vulnerability should guidelines in these documents change or fail to be updated.
- The need to clarify when associated FPA endorsed documents and planning tools must be consulted to develop prescriptions for forest practices plans or where the documents and planning tools are for informative purposes only.
- The possibilities for agroforestry and land rehabilitation or restoration within agricultural landscapes should be specifically addressed by the Code.
- The circumstances in which the Code applies and the circumstances in which forest practices plans are required warranted further clarification.
- References to organisations and documents need to be updated.
- The 2015 amendment acknowledged that some sections of the Code could be revised to better clarify or update particular technical provisions. These technical updates have been addressed in the amendments.
Section 32 of the Act provides that the FPA may amend the Code after consulting with the Forest Practices Advisory Council (FPAC), the Forestry corporation (Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT)) and Private Forests Tasmania (PFT).
In 2018 and 2019, the FPA held consultations with a range of stakeholders to address the above matters.
The FPA convened working groups to review each section of the Code. Each working group had broad representation from industrial forest companies, STT, PFT, government agencies, private forest growers and eNGOs. The working groups reviewed the technical aspects of the Code to make it contemporary with modern forestry practices and environmental regulations.
A notice was placed in Tasmanian newspapers on Saturday 20 July 2019, inviting comment on the draft amendment of the Code. The comment period closed on Friday 20 September 2019. There were 153 individual comments from 26 parties. One objection was received. Each comment was carefully considered by the working groups. The objection was considered by the FPA.
Review of the Forest Practices Code - responses to Comments Received from public JUNE 2020
Amendments made to the Code
- The scope and applicability of the Code was clarified, to allow for its application where a forest practices plan (FPP) is required, whether or not an FPP has been certified. Where a certified FPP is not required persons carrying out forest practices are encouraged to apply the provisions of this Code where practicable.
- An interpretation and explanation of ‘forest practices’ was included in line with the interpretation in the Forest Practices Act 1985.
- A mandatory statement was included to be placed in all FPPs that references the Code and thus clearly links the Code to an enforceable instrument (the FPP).
- The requirement for a map to be included in a FPP was added and the standard of the map expected was described.
- An expanded section describing and illustrating native forest silvicultural systems and native forest stocking standards.
- New sections added on restoration of riparian zones rehabilitation of degraded forest landscapes.
- Section added on stand management that covers routine, low-impact stand maintenance activities that do not require an FPP.
- Exemptions for small scale or low-impact forest maintenance operations where an FPP is not needed.
- A statement that forest practices should be conducted in a manner that maintains the sequestration and storage of carbon in a reasonably practical manner
- The Guiding Policy was replaced with a Preamble and an expanded section A, with some of the commitments made in the Guiding Policy dealt with elsewhere in the Code.
- Numerous technical updates were made to remove uncertainty and bring the Code up to date with contemporary practices and technology, such as contemporary harvesting equipment and use of electronic maps and real time geo-location.
- Other applicable legislation is referred to such as that covering fire management, smoke, quarries, pesticide use and noise, without re-iteration of the regulatory requirements.
Release of the amended Code
The amended Code, to be known as the Forest Practices Code 2020, was released on 6 October 2020 and came into force on 1 January 2021.