Legislation and regulations protect the values in our forests where timber harvesting occurs. This framework is important as we transition away from native forest harvesting by 2030.
You can find out more about this framework on the Legislative framework and regulations page.
A key part of this framework is the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (the Code). The Code is the way we regulate commercial timber harvesting in Victoria’s forests.
What is the Code of Practice?
Timber harvesters, including VicForests, must comply with the Code. The Code regulates timber harvesting in State forests, private native forests and plantations. It outlines environmental standards for planning and conducting commercial timber harvesting. Important values like biodiversity, recreation and cultural heritage are protected under the Code.
The Management standards and procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria's State forests (Schedule 1 to the Code) has further instructions for timber harvesters in State forests.
Instruments of variation
Instruments of variation are made whenever the Code is amended. The instruments below show recent changes made to the Code.
Management Guidelines for private native forests and plantations
There are different rules for private forests and plantations. The Management Guidelines for private native forests and plantations provides guidance for:
- timber production managers and operators, to interpret the Code, and
- local governments, which monitor Code compliance under Victorian planning schemes.
The management guidelines do not replace the mandatory actions in the Code.
There has been $14 million allocated to improve environmental standards in timber harvesting. This includes improving clarity about how to comply with requirements in the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014.
Why are these changes needed?
The Code contains a concept called the ‘precautionary principle’. The precautionary principle helps manage scientific uncertainty when there are threats of serious damage to forest ecosystems.
Recent legal action shows a need for more clarity about interpreting the precautionary principle. This will provide certainty for industry and the community, and improve enforcement.
How will the Compliance Standards work?
A new tool called ‘Compliance Standards’ will be developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Compliance Standards will guide timber harvesters on how to comply with the precautionary principle. This will improve certainty that obligations under the Code have been met.
A timber harvester can either:
- comply with a Compliance Standard, or
- take actions to meet the requirements of the precautionary principle, as is currently the case.
If the timber harvester complies with a Compliance Standard, it will be taken to have complied with the precautionary principle.
If the timber harvester does not comply with a Compliance Standard, the Conservation Regulator can investigate whether it complied with the precautionary principle. This may lead to enforcement action if a breach is confirmed.
These changes do not change the requirements or environmental standards of the Code. The precautionary principle is still a mandatory action under the Code. However, Compliance Standards will reduce ambiguity about how the precautionary principle is implemented.
Will there be consultation?
The government will consult on any changes to the Code needed to implement compliance standards. More information about upcoming consultation opportunities will be included on this website when available.
Comprehensive review of the Code
Ensuring the Code is clear, enforceable and achieves positive environmental outcomes is an ongoing process.
The government continues to examine parts of the Code that may need amendment in the short term. It will also undertake a comprehensive review of the Code by December 2023.
More information about upcoming consultation opportunities will be included on this website when available.
Page last updated: 01/07/22