A Timber Release Plan (TRP) shows areas where VicForests may conduct operations, including timber harvesting. These areas are divided into sections of the forest called coupes.
The TRP documentation display all coupes on the approved TRP irrespective of their harvesting status. Coupes may be at different stages of the harvesting cycle with some areas already harvested and others yet to be harvested. The duration of timber harvesting operations vary depending on the size and complexity of a coupe but may range from several weeks to several months.
According to Management Standards and Procedures for Timber Harvesting Operations in Victoria's State Forests 2014:
Where a coupe boundary shown on a TRP map is mapped to a geographic feature and the actual location of that geographic feature does not match the mapped location, VicForests may move the coupe boundary a maximum of 50m from the mapped boundary to align with the actual location of the intended boundary feature.
Where any coupe boundary overlaps a SPZ, an exemption or temporary variation will be sought from DELWP prior to harvesting; otherwise, the area will be excluded from harvesting and associated operations.
The Legislative Framework
After the Allocation Order to VicForests has been gazetted by the Minister for Agriculture, a Timber Release Plan (TRP) is developed. Timber Release Plans show the location of areas which may be sustainably harvested and regenerated by VicForests.
After the TRP is approved, VicForests must abide by the conditions of the Allocation Order and all other regulatory requirements.
The TRP is prepared in accordance with the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004. They provide a range of information including:
A schedule of coupes selected for timber harvesting
The location and approximate timing of timber harvesting in the proposed coupes
The location of any associated access roads.
The TRP may be reviewed and changed in accordance with the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004.
Authority to harvest
There are two waysfor VicForests to be granted authorisation to harvest.
Areas of the forest have been allocated to VicForests through a Ministerial Order called the Allocation Order. VicForests has been vested the rights to timber in these areas. Not all areas allocated can be harvested, due to a range of protections outlined in the Code of Practice for Timber Production.
VicForests can also apply for special authorisation to conduct operations including harvesting and roading in other areas of the forest. This special permission can be granted by the Conservation Regulator or the Minister.