VicForests audit results illustrate continuous improvement process
14 September 2023
At VicForests we believe that ongoing improvements to our forest management are vital to responsible forest stewardship.
That’s why we are pleased with the latest independent audit conducted in 32 coupes with harvesting operations in 2020–21 across the Central Highlands, Gippsland, East Gippsland and North East Regional Forest Agreement areas that show a continuous improvement in our audit results.
As part of its Annual Forest Audit program, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) commissions an Environment Protection Authority accredited auditor to conduct an audit of VicForests’ operations.
This audit was conducted according to four themes: environmental values in State forests, conservation of biodiversity, operational planning and record keeping, and coupe infrastructure for timber harvesting operations.
The 2022 audit found VicForests achieved an average of 96% compliance (an increase from 94% in our last audit) across all themes and sub themes of the audit, meaning either consistency or improvements in all areas.
The 96% average compliance findings are a testament to the work our passionate staff undertake in the forest. Our staff are committed to continuously improving our practices and strive to demonstrate excellence in all that we do.
Several areas of improvement include:
Protection of forest soils: 95% (previously 92%)
Protection of water flows, water quality and river health: 94% (91%)
Protection of biodiversity values: 96% (95%)
Road maintenance and closure practices: 99% (88%)
The 32 coupes audited were selected using a risk-based procedure that prioritised coupes with high-risk features and are associated with special values: waterway crossings; long lengths of in-coupe road; steep slopes; more erosive soils; rainforest vegetation in close proximity; presence of threatened flora and/or fauna; and Special Protection or Special Management Zones (SPZ and SMZ respectively) in close proximity.
Given coupe selection is risk-based, rather than fully randomised, the findings of this audit cover a portion of VicForests’ higher-risk operations, with lower-risk areas not audited.
Our sustainable forest management activities are informed by the latest research and guided by best practice.
VicForests recognises, as always, that there is room for improvement, and welcomes the audit’s findings and recommendations in providing advice and direction on areas of focus for such improvement.