Coastal IFOA remake (Outstanding settings)


Advice provided

Advice date:

November 2016


Integrated forestry operations approval (IFOA) establishes the conditions and settings for harvesting timber on NSW state forest and Crown timber land, including provisions for the protection of the environment and for threatened species conservation.

In February 2012, the NSW Government announced it would remake the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) for the Eden, Southern, Upper North East and Lower North East coastal region of NSW, with the aim of delivering a single new IFOA for forestry in coastal NSW.

Since 2014, the Environmental Protection Authority, Forestry Corporation of NSW and the then Department of Primary Industries worked together to develop settings for the new Coastal IFOA. The parties came to an agreement on most but not all of the settings.

In July 2016, the Premier asked us, through a Terms of Reference, to review outstanding settings for the new Coastal IFOA. We were to independently advise on the extent to which the proposed IFOA settings would, or would not, deliver the Government’s twin commitments of no erosion of environmental values and no net change to wood supply.

Overall, we found that the intended outcomes-based approach to the Coastal IFOA reflected best practice at that time. The approach aligned with the scientifically supported shift to 'retention forestry' which has the goal of maintaining a greater diversity of species and habitats.

In addition, the agreed multi-scale landscape approach with enhanced permanent protections for threatened species at a range of spatial scales, will build on existing IFOA environmental protections.

We recommended a suite of settings that it considered went closest to meeting the objectives and commitments of the IFOA at the state scale. However, we determined at that time that it was not possible to meet the NSW Government’s commitments around both environmental values and wood supply under the expected cumulative impact of the agreed and recommended settings. Specifically, the analysis estimated that annual high quality wood supply could decrease in certain wood supply zones on the north coast under recommended settings for the protection of koalas and new mapping for threatened ecological communities.

In addition to the recommended settings, we proposed a range of improvements to deliver a contemporary regulatory framework, including options to improve clarity and enforceability, while reducing costs associated with implementation and compliance. We also emphasised the importance of implementing effective monitoring and adaptive management processes.

The NSW Government adopted our recommended settings and approved a final IFOA in late 2018.

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