NSW Government Introduces Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

Tuesday 29 May 2018 @ 9.19 a.m. | Legal Research

On Wednesday 16 May 2018, Minister for Lands and Forestry Paul Toole introduced the Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (NSW) (the “Bill”) into the NSW Legislative Assembly. The objects of the Bill, as outlined in the explanatory note, are:

  1. to amend the Local Land Services Act 2013 and other Acts to transfer responsibility for the regulation of private native forestry to Local Land Services, with the Environment Protection Authority maintaining its enforcement role,
  2. to amend the Forestry Act 2012, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and other Acts to update the regulatory framework for public native forestry and the enforcement role of the Environment Protection Authority,
  3. to make minor, related and consequential amendments to the Local Land Services Act 2013, the Forestry Act 2012 and other Acts and instruments.


Minister Toole outlined the relevance and background of the Bill in his second reading speech to the Legislative Assembly on 16 May 2018:

“The forestry sector is critically important in many communities in New South Wales. The most recent figures show that the forestry sector, including wood product manufacturing with both hardwood and softwood, employs more than 17,500 people in New South Wales. The sector also generates many indirect jobs, particularly in regional New South Wales where an estimated 42 per cent of forestry jobs are based. This makes the forestry sector an important driver of regional economic growth. I am proud to speak in support of an industry that is delivering jobs in regional New South Wales.

In 2016, the New South Wales Government released the NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap. The road map sets out an agenda for how we would drive a world-class sustainable and profitable forestry industry. The road map represented a first for forestry in New South Wales and an accountable and transparent statement from government on how it intends to support the sector and support jobs. In particular, the road map set out a sustainable business model to underpin the sector for the future.

In the road map, we committed to a series of actions under four key pillars: firstly, regulatory modernisation, which includes the renewal of New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements, the remake of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval [IFOA], and the bill I introduce today in this House; secondly, balancing the supply and demand for timber in New South Wales; thirdly, improving community understanding and confidence in the forestry sector through research, development and engagement; and, fourthly, supporting industry innovation and opening new markets. I am proud to say that the New South Wales Government is achieving what it set out to do and what it committed to do in the road map. We are taking action that is going to secure the sector's future and we will continue to take necessary action.”

The Bill

Minister Toole summarised the amendments proposed by the Bill in his second reading speech of 16 May 2018:

“The Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 will deliver a streamlined approach for native forestry legislation in New South Wales by consolidating five separate legislative frameworks into two. It balances economic benefits with community expectations. It also provides for increased regulatory certainty, enhanced transparency and greater enforceability. The bill amends the Forestry Act 2012 to prepare for the new Coastal IFOA and to establish provisions that enable the Environment Protection Authority [EPA] to enforce all of its conditions. The bill also amends the Local Land Services Act 2013 to formalise the transfer of responsibility for private native forestry advice and approvals to Local Land Services. New South Wales now has a single Act for overseeing land management activities on private land. Further, Local Land Services will be installed as the one‑stop shop for landholders seeking land management advice and services, leading to improved service delivery for landholders and industry. “

The Bill proposes to amend the Local Land Services Act 2013 (NSW) with regard to private native forestry (schedule 1), as well as the Forestry Act 2012 (NSW) with respect to public native forestry (schedule 2). The Bill also proposes to make amendments to other Acts, consequential to the amendments proposed in schedules 1 and 2 (schedule 3). The consequential amendments are proposed to be made to the:

  • Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW)
  • Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW)
  • Impounding Act 1993 (NSW)
  • Land and Environment Court Act 1979 (NSW)
  • Local Land Services Regulation 2014 (NSW)
  • National Park Estate (Riverina Red Gum Reservations) Act 2010 (NSW)
  • Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 (NSW)
  • Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW)
  • Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006 (NSW)
  • State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (NSW)

The major amendments proposed to be made by the Bill with regards to private native forestry (“PNF”) were outlined by Minister Toole in his second reading speech:

“The Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 marks a turning point for the management of PNF [private native forestry] in New South Wales. The New South Wales Government announced in 2017 that responsibility for approving PNF plans—which are required before PNF operations can occur—will be moved from the EPA to Local Land Services. The transition took effect on 30 April 2018 and occurred seamlessly, ensuring continuity in service for landholders. This bill will now formalise this transition by repealing the PNF provisions in the Forestry Act and remaking and updating them in the Local Land Services Act. […]

The bill creates a new part 5B in the Local Land Services Act 2013 for PNF. This part harmonises the definition of "forestry operations" with the definition in the Forestry Act. The bill specifies the objectives of part 5B, including authorising PNF in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable forest management and the protection of biodiversity and water quality. Part 5B provides for the Minister for Lands and Forestry to make PNF codes of practice but only with the concurrence of the Minister of the Environment and the Minister for Primary Industries. It provides for public consultation on proposed PNF codes of practice. It specifies the process for submitting PNF plans, the conditions of such plans and the penalties for contravening a plan or code of practice.”

With regards to native forestry on public land, Minister Toole stated:

“The Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 amends the Forestry Act 2012 to update and streamline provisions related to IFOAs, enhance the framework for regulating native forestry, and amend the arrangements for how ForestCorp may operate. Specifically, the Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 makes the following amendments related to IFOAs. It provides for public consultation for making or amending IFOAs. It enshrines the principle of ecologically sustainable forest management as an objective in the Act when making an IFOA, and the objective of conserving species, populations and ecological communities under the Fisheries Management Act 1994. It requires the relevant Ministers to consult with the Minister administering the Fisheries Management Act 1994 before approving an IFOA to ensure that important threatened species matters are considered.

It repeals provisions that make NSW forest agreements prerequisites for IFOAs. It consolidates licensing related to harming animals, plants or fish, or for polluting waters, to ensure that IFOAs no longer require separate environmental licences. It removes beekeeping and the grazing of livestock as operations that may be authorised and regulated by IFOAs, and instead creates regulation-making powers to authorise and regulate those activities. It allows for alternative enforcement tools including remediation orders and temporary stop work orders to be made in respect of forestry operations under an IFOA. And it updates the penalties for breaching the conditions of an IFOA so that they are aligned with the penalties for contravening a PNF plan or code of practice.

The amendments in this bill align with the new Coastal IFOA, a draft of which is currently out for public consultation. The draft Coastal IFOA strikes a balance between strengthening environmental standards and providing certainty for the State's forestry industry. The Coastal IFOA is a vital step forward in the New South Wales Government's forestry reform agenda. In finalising this draft we are delivering on our public commitment set out in the NSW Forest Industry Roadmap. I can also confirm that ForestCorp was consulted on the draft IFOA to ensure that the proposed rules are practical for its operations.”

The Bill is now to be considered by the NSW Legislative Assembly and if passed will be considered by the Legislative Council.

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Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018(NSW), and explanatory material available on TimeBase's LawOne service.

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