NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program

The Premier has asked the Commission under a terms of reference to independently oversee and advise on a state-wide monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement program for NSW forests.

The Program will improve the evidence-base for decision-making for forest management across tenures. This will strengthen the NSW Government’s ability to strategically and adaptively manage forests over time, including state forests, national parks, private native forests and crown forested land.

The Premier’s request

The Premier has requested the Commission to oversight the Program’s governance, design and delivery. In addition, the Commission is required to ensure the Program delivers open and transparent information in a timely manner and commitments are tracked and delivered.

The Commission will provide independent advice by reviewing forest monitoring data, evaluation and research, drawing on a diverse range of expertise and information from both within the NSW Government and outside of government. The Commission will deliver clear and practical recommendations to NSW Government agencies and forest managers on both emerging challenges in forest management, such as forest health issues arising due to the effects of climate change, and on opportunities to improve the management of forests in NSW.

Program outcomes and aims

The Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program will deliver evidence to adaptively manage NSW forests across tenures in an ecologically sustainable manner.

The Program aims to:

  • focus on the information required to improve the adaptive management of NSW forests
  • provide the public with independent, accessible and robust evidence of forest management performance
  • be adaptable to changes to both research priorities and forest monitoring methods
  • be cost effective by employing efficient mechanisms to meet program objectives
  • satisfy NSW’s obligations to national and international forest management reporting.

Submission on the draft Program Strategy is now closed. The Commission is currently considering community feedback and will release final strategy in August 2019.

The Steering Committee

As required under the terms of reference, the Commission has established, and will independently chair a cross-agency Steering Committee to oversee the design, implementation, review and continuous improvement of the program. The Steering Committee will develop an overarching strategy, incorporating the Program plan, and lead and coordinate reviews of the Program.

The draft Program Strategy describes the governance for the program.

The Commission has appointed four independent experts to the Steering Committee:

  • Professor Patrick Baker, Australian Research Council Future Fellow and School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne
  • Associate Professor Phillip Gibbons, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer, Health Research Institute, University of Canberra and visiting fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • Dr Peter Hairsine, Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University.

NSW agencies will implement the approved Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program Plan, including the collection, procurement, analysis and sharing of data and reports for forests on all tenures. NSW agencies remain responsible for the ongoing implementation, administration and adaptive management of the RFAs and IFOAs.

Program scope

The Program will include forest monitoring, evaluation, research and reporting on both public and private land across NSW. Information will be generated to improve adaptive management of NSW forests, including state forests, national parks, private native forests and crown forested land.

Specifically, the Program will incorporate requirements for the monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement of forest management and environment protection under the three NSW Regional Forest Agreements and four NSW Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals. This includes NSW’s obligation to report against indicators for ecologically sustainable forest management.

The Program will build on a range of existing forest monitoring, evaluation and research initiatives and provide opportunities for coordination and partnership.

Program deliverables

The Program will deliver:

  • Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Research Plans
  • Evaluation, progress and recommendation reports
  • Stakeholder and community engagement plan
  • Annual forums for forest monitoring

Consultation and engagement

The Commission and the NSW Forest Monitoring Steering Committee will engage with the community, environment and industry stakeholders on the Program design, implementation, annual reviews and major reviews.

The Program seeks to work with a wide range of partners, including community organisations, Indigenous groups, and universities to draw in monitoring, research, data, and evaluation skills, and convening and consolidating experience from across the state at local and regional levels.

The Commission has released a draft Program Strategy for public comment, and is inviting comments by 4 July 2019.

Public reporting of the Program results and progress will be made available, including any recommendations of the Commission and the NSW Forest Monitoring Steering Committee for any suggested changes to the Coastal IFOA, RFAs or the NSW Forest Management Framework.

Timing

The Commission will provide the Government with a proposed Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Research Plan for forested lands under the Coastal IFOA on behalf of the NSW Forest Monitoring Steering Committee by mid-November 2019.

In parallel, the Commission and the Steering Committee will oversight the design of the state-wide, cross-tenure Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Research Plan for NSW forests to be completed by at least late 2020.

The Commission and the NSW Forest Monitoring Steering Committee will also review the Program results and the effectiveness of the Program annually. A major review of the Program will occur after five years.

Stay informed

The Commission is currently initiating the Program and working with and the NSW Forest Monitoring Steering Committee to commence the Program design.

If you would like to receive updates regarding this work, you can sign up to our mailing list.

The Commission will be updating this webpage as the project is implemented.