PNF codes of practice
In November 2021, the then Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces asked the Commission under a Terms of Reference to help finalise the Private Native Forestry (PNF) codes of practice. Specifically, we were asked to advise on:
- whether the final draft codes fulfil:
- the Objects of Part 5B of the Local Land Services Act 2013, including the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management
- other government policy objectives
- the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer’s recommendations in its 2021 report on koala protections
- steps to develop and implement a Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting (MER) framework under the NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program overseen by the Commission.
We delivered our final report in March 2022. Our advice found that the final draft codes:
- were a substantive improvement on the existing codes
- provided robust protections for koalas in high value habitat (for example, more koala trees retained in over 2.8 million hectares of high value koala habitat)
- provided certainty and consistency for landholders, with new harvesting prescriptions making it easier for landholders to implement and comply with codes, while still maintaining ongoing habitat values for native fauna
- met the objects of Part 5B of the Local Land Services Act 2013, including the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management
- met the recommendations outlined in the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer’s 2021 advice.
Given these findings, we recommended the NSW Government approve the final draft codes and develop protocols and guidelines to support their implementation and enforceability. We also advised that the NSW Government increase support to Local Land Services to ensure it can build landholder capacity and best practice farm forestry.
The Commission’s final report details its recommendations in full.
The revised PNF codes were released in May 2022. The released codes are not the same as the final drafts that the Commission’s advice was based on. After our advice was delivered, Local Land Services updated the draft codes following further discussions with the Commission, relevant agencies and expert advice. These updates largely related to stream and threatened species protections. This note explains the updates.
The Commission’s approach
The Commission convened an expert group to inform the review:
- Prof. Patrick Baker – University of Melbourne – Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecology, School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences
- Dr. Alistair Melzer – Central Queensland University – Adjunct Research Fellow, Koala Research CQ, School of Medical and Applied Sciences and research program leader for koala research at Central Queensland University
- Dr. Chris Armstrong – NSW Office of the Chief Scientist & Engineer – NSW Deputy Chief Scientist, Chair of the NSW Koala Strategy expert panel.
As required by the Terms of Reference, we consulted with Local Land Services, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, NSW Department of Planning and Environment - Energy, Environment and Science and other relevant agencies as required. The review scope did not allow for consultation with external stakeholders.
We also considered government legislative requirements, relevant policy objectives and previous work by independent experts, available literature and community submissions on the draft codes.