Newry State forest has a long history of sustainable timber harvesting and contains areas of natural forest dedicated since 1917 and hardwood plantations that were previously cleared private land and later purchased in 1983 and included into the forest area. In 2001, further areas of previously privately owned land with a history of timber production were added to the forest.
Identifying areas for timber production
State forests are managed sustainably for a range of values including environmental conservation, tourism and recreation and renewable timber production, both complementing and contributing to NSW’s world-class conservation network of national parks. Less than one per cent of the public forest managed by Forestry Corporation is harvested for renewable timber products in any one year in line with strict regulations that ensure forest values and habitat are maintained throughout each harvest area as well as across the landscape. Importantly, every harvest area is regrown to ensure the same forests continue to provide habitat, protect waterways and produce renewable timber for future generations.
The areas of public native forest that are set aside for conservation and those that are managed for multiple uses including renewable timber production have been identified through the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) process, which is managed by the State and Commonwealth Governments and reviewed every five years. Under the RFAs, the majority of public forests in NSW are permanently set aside for conservation, largely in the formal national park estate. Further, each area of State forest has been classified under the Forest Management Zoning (FMZ) system, which establishes eight separate management zones based on the conservation value of each forest area. Each State forest will generally contain a range of FMZs and Forestry Corporation ensures at all times that its management activities and operations are consistent with those identified as suitable for the relevant FMZ. On average, half the State forest estate is set aside for conservation in areas classified as FMZ 1 and 2 and managed solely for conservation under the FMZ system. See our maps and spatial data page for forest type maps.
In the areas that have been designated under these processes as suitable for renewable timber production, operations take place in line with the relevant regulations, which is Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (CIFOA) for native forests or the Plantations and Reafforestation (Code) Regulation for timber plantations.
Before any timber harvesting operation, professional ecologists survey the wildlife, birdlife and vegetation to identify threatened species, ensure the forest retains the conditions and habitat they need to thrive, and develop plans that comply with the strict forestry regulations. Within each harvesting unit, areas are set aside for wildlife habitat and feed and habitat trees are identified and protected. Our dedicated Aboriginal Partnerships team also carries out cultural heritage surveys and ensure cultural heritage is protected. Once harvesting is completed, retained trees and soil seed reserves will enable harvested areas to regenerate thereby providing long-term wildlife habitat and providing timber resources for the future. Planning for operations is carried out on a site-by-site basis and can take several months.
Our Plan Portal details each of the areas of interest for planning over the coming 12 months. Detailed harvest plans will be made available for each of these areas through the Plan Portal, when they have been developed.
In native forests, such as those currently being planned for harvesting in Newry State Forest, wildlife is protected by strict regulations developed with the input of expert scientific panels. Under these regulations, around 43 per cent of the State forest estate is protected via permanent retention of areas such as rainforest and old growth forests, wetlands and riparian zones, threatened ecological communities, ridge and headwater habitat and rocky outcrops. In each harvest area, a further 10-13 per cent of the available harvest area in Coastal State forests is also identified and permanently retained in habitat clumps containing trees with valuable habitat features. Read more about protecting wildlife in State forests.
Protection of koalas and their habitat is a core priority and specific searches are carried out prior to and throughout harvest operations. There are also clear regulations that require feed trees and habitat to be identified and protected throughout the harvest area. These measures were developed on the basis of ongoing research. This research shows that koalas continue to occupy forests where timber harvesting takes place at the same rate as unharvested forests. Read more about this research.
Steep slopes and erosion
Newry State Forest does contain some significant topography, but there are detailed restrictions that prohibit harvesting on steep slopes that must be adhered to on all forestry operations.
Steep areas will be clearly identified on our plans and will be excluded from harvesting. Forestry Corporation has invested in state of the art technology to manage this issue, with high quality terrain mapping and in-field digital mapping being used at all times to ensure that machinery does not breach steep slope exclusion areas.
The measures put in place to protect soil and waterways were developed by expert scientific panels following extensive research. Recent research published by the University of New England has demonstrated that the best practice measures used by Forestry Corporation to protect water quality during our operations are effective. This reinforces more than four decades of monitoring data that has consistently demonstrated the water from State forests is among the best in the landscape in line with undisturbed catchments.
Timber from State forests is harvested and processed by a range of local businesses into important structural timber products including poles, bridge decking, floorboards, decking, fencing, landscaping timbers, pallets, and a range of other products that communities use and need, creating ongoing employment in the region. Timber is the most renewable building product available; it stores carbon for the life of the products harvested, has a lower carbon footprint than alternatives such as concrete or steel and each tree harvested is regrown for the future. More about renewable timber.
It is not permissible under the robust forestry regulations in NSW to carry out operations for the purpose of producing biomass or energy. The primary purpose of Forestry Corporation’s operations is to produce timber for poles, bridge decking, floorboards, decking, fencing, landscaping timbers, pallets, and a range of other products that communities use and need. In the process of producing timber, there are parts of the tree that cannot be used for these high quality products and in every harvesting operation there is some degree of wood residue or biomass produced. In plantation operations this residue is generally stacked into piles and burned in the forest to allow for planting of the new timber crop. Forestry Corporation has previously trialed the collection and selling of wood biomass in plantation operations to determine whether we could reduce burning and cultivation in the forest and use the biomass offsite for other purposes including power generation. To date this has only happened on a trial basis in a small number of plantation operations and is not a routine practice. The production of biomass is strictly regulated and Forestry Corporation reports details of all biomass production in its annual Sustainability Report.
Once a timber plantation has been harvested it is replanted in the shortest period feasible to ensure that site growth is maximized to produce renewable timber in perpetuity. We undertake weed control at the beginning of a timber plantation’s 30-40 year life cycle to control pest plants including lantana and camphor laurel to allow the planted trees to established quickly and outcompete these and other weeds.
The most effective way to do this is by spraying the area before the new seedlings are planted. Each time we carry out a herbicide treatment, we assess the most appropriate application method taking into account the proximity to towns or neighbours, topography and site access. All pesticides, including herbicides, used in Australia must be registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Registration by the APVMA indicates that, if used according to the label directions, the product poses no risk to the environment, worker safety or public health. The herbicides used by the Forestry Corporation of NSW are all approved for use by the APVMA – in fact they are standard agricultural herbicides and can be purchased over the counter by home gardeners in hardware stores and garden centres. Forestry Corporation notifies forest users in line with our Pesticide Use Notification Plan and engages trained professionals to apply herbicides in line with the label directions and in adherence with environmental regulations. Weed treatment in plantations is generally only carried out two or three times in each 30 or 40 year rotation and each time it is carefully managed.
Broad area weed management is not carried out in native forests, as they are selectively harvested and forest cover is maintained throughout the harvest area.