The care and ongoing management of our natural forests is our primary concern.
As leaders in sustainable forest management, our activities are conducted in accordance with the regulatory framework, are informed by the latest research and guided by best practice. Through this approach our forest management focuses on balancing ecological and social factors with responsible economic practices.
As such, our approach to conducting operations in wet conditions considers the best outcome for the environment and the safety of our staff, contractors and licensees.
Not all coupes are the same
The location, altitude, aspect, soil type, forest structure and previous history of disturbance are just some of the factors we need to consider when planning and operating in a coupe.
Certain areas are more sensitive or more prone to wet conditions. This is why we schedule operations in areas appropriate to the season and suspend operations when it is too wet to avoid soil compaction, erosion and sediment movement which helps maintain water quality.
Operating in water catchments
We carefully plan and manage our operations to protect water quality and quantity, rivers and waterways. We do this by applying evidence-based management practices, detailed in Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (as amended 2022) (the Code), shown to be effective at minimising sediment and nutrient inputs to waterways.
Protecting water quality is a requirement of the Code.
Catchments where we are permitted to operate can be subject to seasonal closures. This makes them unavailable for harvest under VicForests’ Timber Utilisation Plan and Timber Release Plan at times when risk of impact to water quality is at its highest. These closures are managed by the relevant water management authority and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.
At times it may be necessary to apply for permission to access catchments during the closures. This may be to finalise operations, or to move machinery, that has been retained on site, to another site. In these cases the current conditions, safety and the risk of impact to the environment and water quality will be considered by the relevant authority prior to authorising any exemptions.
Even when an exemption is provided, operations must still be done in accordance with the usual rules governing weather and site conditions.
Site rehabilitation following our operations
Large and heavy machinery and trucks are used by our contractors and licensees during timber harvesting or recovery operations. In order to safely and effectively operate, landings and snig tracks are created through a coupe. These are carefully planned and where possible they may be used for multiple coupes.
Part of the planning is the rehabilitation of the coupe following our operations. This involves rehabilitating snig tracks and landings when no longer required, securing the area to prevent erosion and sediment movement and preparing the area for future treatment such as regeneration.
Site rehabilitation may not happen all at once
VicForests will only operate when it is safe and responsible to do so. Sometimes this means works may be put on hold if the conditions are not favourable. At times, this may extend for a number of months, for example over winter.
This means that sometimes, even though operations have been completed, weather conditions do not allow sites to be fully rehabilitated immediately. When this happens we ensure the site is secured to prevent erosion and sediment movement prior to putting works on hold and we will return to complete rehabilitation when conditions are favourable. In the case of wet winter conditions, we may not return until spring.
These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and consider the best outcomes for the environment as well as the safety of our staff, contractors and Licensees.
All of our operations are conducted in accordance with relevant policies, procedures, agreements and regulatory requirements.