Commercial timber production from public forests

VicForests is the Victorian government business with responsibility for the sustainable harvest and commercial sale of Victoria's timber in all Victorian State forests.

This provides consistency in commercial forestry operations, and clearly separates the department's forestry governance and regulatory roles from any commercial operations.

Persons interested in commercial timber harvesting should contact VicForests.

Code of Practice for Timber Production

Commercial timber production in Victoria must occur in compliance with the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014. The code and the 'Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria's state forests 2014' that are incorporated within the Code of Practice.

One of the key principles of the Victorian Forestry Plan is to ensure log supply is secured at levels consistent with the plan until June 2024, to provide the industry with time to begin the transition process.

For customers who had Timber Supply Agreements expiring on 30 June 2020, VicForests is in the process of executing contracts for supply to 30 June 2024. VicForests has also executed harvest and haul agreements to match the Timber Supply Agreements.

Timber supply this year has been challenging due to the bushfires in East Gippsland and then outcomes of legal actions against VicForests. The Government is working with VicForests to maintain log deliveries and meet supply commitments.

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change announced on 27 July 2020 a broad-ranging review of the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014. A clear, accurate and enforceable Code is needed, supported by strong enforcement powers for Victoria’s Conservation Regulator.

The code will be reviewed to:

  • minimise the risk to short-term supply obligations arising from third-party litigation
  • ensure it remains fit for purpose and facilitates the implementation of the Victorian Forestry Plan
  • strengthen the regulatory powers available to the Conservation Regulator
  • identify regulatory reforms informed by the 2019-20 bushfires.

Also on 27 July, VicForests released an amended Timber Release Plan. This amendment includes an additional 59 new coupes in the Benalla-Mansfield, North-East and Tambo Forest Management Areas to ensure continuity of operations following the 2019-20 bushfires.

Maintaining public safety

Learn about Victoria's timber harvesting safety zones.

Forest operator licences (FOLS)

There is now no legislative requirement for forest workers in Victoria to have a Forest Operator Licence (FOL), or a Timber Harvest Operator Licence (THOL) as a FOL was previously known. Noting some forest operation managers still require its forest workers to have a FOL.

ForestWorks provides a service for managing your training records that were previously listed on a forest operator licence. ForestWorks provides a service called FOLS Skills Verification Program. The FOLS Skills Verification Program enables a worker to record their training and skill currency in an online system, which can be shared with employers.

Wood Utilisation Plans

Since November 2014 VicForests has managed Wood Utilisation Plans in Victoria. In April 2017 Wood Utilisation Plans were replaced by a Timber Utilisation Plan (TUPs). This plan is developed and managed by VicForests. The current Timber Utilisation Plan is available on the VicForests’ website.

Allocation order

The Allocation Order is made by the Minister for Agriculture under Part 3 of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (the Act). On the publication of an Allocation Order in the Victorian Government Gazette, property in the timber allocated by the Order is allocated and vested in VicForests. The timber resources are allocated to VicForests for the purposes of harvesting and/or selling.

The Allocation Order provides long-term access to Victoria's timber resources and may be varied or reviewed by the Minister consistent with sections 17 and 18 of the Act.

The Allocation Order describes:

  • the forest stands within state forests to which VicForests has access
  • the location of those forest stands
  • the total extent and available areas of those forest stands
  • the maximum area available for timber harvesting in any five-year period
  • any additional activities that VicForests is permitted to undertake
  • the conditions with which VicForests must comply in carrying out its functions under the Allocation Order.

On publication of the Allocation Order, VicForests must carry out its functions in accordance with the Order.

The allocation and vesting of Victoria's timber resources in eastern Victorian state forests is set out in the Allocation Order 2013 (as amended).

Allocation Order 2013 (as amended)

Consistent with proclamation of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Amendment Act 2013, the Allocation Order 2013 was published in the Victorian Government Gazette No S 343 on 1 October 2013.

The Allocation Order 2013 was amended on 30 October 2014. The Allocation (Amendment) Order 2014 was published in the Victorian Government Gazette No S 405.

The Allocation Order 2013 was further amended on 24 April 2019. The Allocation (Amendment) Order 2019 was published in the Victorian Government Gazette No S 153.

2018 review

In reviewing the allocation of timber resources, and in determining whether to amend or vary the allocation order, consistent with section 19 of the Act, the Minister must have regard for certain matters.

View the report on these matters, signed by the Minister on 28 March 2019:

Extent and location of forest stands to which VicForests has access

The Allocation Order 2013 (as amended) includes a map indicating the general location of the Allocation Area. A copy of the map is provided below.

Map of Victoria showing allocation areas for ash and mixed species.

The map shows most of eastern Victoria and displays the boundary with New South Wales to the north (top of the map). It also includes the land / Bass Strait sea boundary to the south (bottom of the map) displayed as fading grey bands.

As indicated by the Legend, the map shows the areas of ash and mixed species forest stands throughout the east and north-east regions of Victoria shaded as black and grey respectively. The shaded areas of mixed species forest stands are greater than the shaded areas of ash forest stands.

The shaded areas are roughly 50 to 60 kilometres to the east and north-east of Melbourne. They spread to the towns of Omeo, Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Alexandra, Mansfield, Bright, Corryong, and the surrounding areas of those towns. There are some smaller areas in the south-east region of the state, particularly south of the town of Sale.

The spatial data layer

The Allocation Area, as defined in the Order, means the area of land identified by the spatial data layer certified by the Secretary to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) on 15 April 2019 known as ‘VicForests_Allocation_Apr2019’ spatial data layer stored in the Victorian Spatial Data Library and available for downloading through DataVic.

On the 29 April 2019 the DataVic website address where the VicForests_Allocation_Apr2019 spatial data layer is available for download changed. The address provided in the gazetted amendment is no longer current. The new website address is https://discover.data.vic.gov.au/dataset/vicforests-allocation-april-2019.

Downloading of the spatial data layer through DataVic requires access to geographic information systems (GIS) software.

Viewing the map in detail

The spatial data layer is also available to be interactively accessed through the MapshareVic platform. MapshareVic is the new name for the MapShareVic platform that is described in the 24 April 2019 gazette. Note that the spatial data layer available through MapshareVic is for public viewing purposes only.

Within MapshareVic the Allocation Area map layer is named ‘VicForests Allocation’ and is located in the Forest Layer Theme listed under the Forests/Recreation tab.

Timber Release Plans

Under Part 5 of the Act, VicForests must prepare a Timber Release Plan (TRP) in relation to the Allocation Order to harvest and/or sell timber resources; and to undertake management activities associated with those timber resources, such as construction of access roads and regeneration activities. VicForests must carry out its functions and powers under the Act in relation to vested timber resources, or in relation to an area to which the Allocation Order applies, in accordance with any TRP.

The TRP remains VicForests' key planning mechanism to outline future timber management operations.

In preparing a TRP, VicForests is required to comply with any condition relating to consultation that is specified in the Allocation Order. TRPs must also be consistent with the Allocation Order and any relevant Code of Practice related to timber harvesting.

VicForests consults widely on its TRPs. All TRPs are evaluated by a number of stakeholders including the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria and Aboriginal Victoria. VicForests also provides the opportunity for the local community, individuals and groups to review its initial TRPs and provide comment.

VicForests must cause notice of a new TRP, or a change to an existing TRP, to be published in the Government Gazette.

Copies of current TRPs and maps showing the extent and location of coupes and coupe driveways can be viewed on the VicForests website.

Post harvest regeneration

Under Part 5 of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (the Act), VicForests must prepare a TRP in relation to the Allocation Order for undertaking management activities associated with timber harvesting including forest regeneration. TRPs must also be consistent with the Allocation Order and any relevant Code of Practice related to timber harvesting.

The Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 specifies that harvested areas of native forest must be successfully regenerated. The minimum regeneration standards are outlined the Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria's State Forest 2014. When VicForests has measured that a coupe has successfully regenerated, that coupe can be removed from the TRP.

Clause 18 of the Allocation Order states that VicForests must submit an annual report to the Secretary to DJPR by 30 September each year describing the area of timber harvested and regeneration results for the preceding financial year for ash and mixed species forest stand types. DJPR will continue to monitor VicForests' regeneration results.

Page last updated: 19 March 2021