VicForests welcomes clarity on harvesting on steep slopes
5 November 2021
VicForests welcomes the clarification in the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 regarding harvesting on steep slopes. The Code mandatory action for operations on steep slopes has not changed in this amendment and remains:
Timber harvesting operations must not occur on slopes where they cannot be conducted safely, or they threaten the stability of the soil or have high potential for adverse off-site effects. The potential for mass soil movement must be assessed by the managing authority and necessary preventative actions undertaken.
The clarification has occurred to correct an error introduced in the Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State forests 2014 (MSPs). The role of this document is to provide standards and procedures to instruct managing authorities, harvesting entities and operators in interpreting the requirements of the Code.
The requirement in the 2014 MSPs was:
Up to 10% of the net harvest area of any coupe can contain areas greater than 30 degrees, where the risk of mass soil movement has been managed accordingly.
The amended MSPs provide clarification on the scope of this prescription and say:
Up to 10% of the planned net coupe area can contain areas greater than the slope limits referred to in 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11 and Table 11 Water supply protection areas, where the risk of mass soil movement has been managed accordingly.
As we have consistently stated, the clarification is precisely the understanding that has existed for many years. As is evident in the 2007 Code requirement that was in place prior to the 2014 MSPs:
Harvesting operations must be excluded from slopes greater than 30 degrees. The exception to this is where there are small areas within coupes (not greater than 10 per cent of the net harvestable area within one coupe) that are greater than the maximum slope limit and may be harvested where the land is assessed as capable of supporting harvesting activities without risk of mass soil movement.
We take our responsibility of sustainably harvesting coupes within our state forests for today and future generations extremely seriously and reject allegations that we have engaged in widespread and systemic breaches of slope prescriptions.
For more information watch our video on harvesting on slopes here.