The Defined Forest Area (DFA) is the area of land (or water) to which the requirements of the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management are applied and over which VicForests can demonstrate control with regards to its operations. This area included land under the management of VicForests and Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA). These areas of land (or water) includes the productive and non-productive forest areas, waterbody reserves, conservation areas, roads, key facilities and infrastructure required to deliver sustainable forest management.
The requirements of the Standard can be applied to any DFA irrespective of scale or type of ownership, or whether native forest or plantation.
The DFA is not an indication of where VicForests intends to operate nor is it directly connected with the regulatory framework but rather ensures VicForests applies the requirements of the standard to all possible areas of the forests in which we may operate. Large areas of land exist in the DFA in which VicForests is unlikely to ever conduct operations but serve to ensure appropriate consideration during the application of sustainable forest management principles.
VicForests is responsible for determining the boundaries of its DFA. The DFA is intended to support sustainable forest management and therefore needs to provide an opportunity for the Certification Body to audit the impacts of forest management activities, prior to, during and after completion of those activities. This may include assessment of the condition of the forest and the impacts of forest management on forest health many years after the completion of harvesting activities.
In recent years, VicForests has changed the way its DFA is determined. Rather than simply representing the area of public land subject to a current Timber Release Plan or Timber Utilisation Plan, the DFA now includes all public lands where VicForests activities may be undertaken. This approach ensures that the certification body has the opportunity to assess the condition of any forest within the DFA at any time regardless of whether any harvesting activities are planned or have been undertaken in the past.
The certification body is responsible for verifying that the requirements of the Standard are being applied to the DFA.
The certification body is also responsible for ensuring appropriate audit duration is applied considering the size and complexity of the DFA. VicForests works with the certification body to ensure an open and transparent understanding of the forest management units within DFA.
Any proposed changes to the DFA involve consultation of the certification body. VicForests notifies the certification body of any proposed significant changes to the DFA, as these have a bearing on the amount of time required for undertaking audits. Where new areas are proposed for inclusion in the DFA, the certification body will assess the controls around the management of these areas during the next audit. Depending on the nature of the change, this may not always require an on-site assessment of the new areas.
Responsible Wood is responsible for the management of the Standard and client certificates. It is not involved with the independent audit process. VicForests is required to report changes to its DFA to ensure accurate data is held by Responsible Wood with its certificate.
VicForests provides an update of the DFA to Responsible Wood at each audit, or otherwise at least annually.
VicForests delineates the DFA by using the Forest Management Zoning (FMZ) scheme spatial layer FMZ100. The FMZ scheme and spatial layer is managed by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning.
VicForests uses this layer to include a wide array of forest tenures within the DFA thus ensuring the proper application of sustainable forest management principles beyond the direct areas of operations. It allows VicForests, under its certification to consider a broader forest estate as part of the planning and delivery of timber harvesting activities.
For example SPZ is included as a part of VicForests DFA to ensure those values protected by a specific SPZ are properly considered in planning through VicForests forest management systems.
The FMZ spatial layer is managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and is used as the spatial representation of the zoning scheme that aims to balance objectives for nature and heritage conservation, amenity of place value, and land management and use, including timber harvesting. DELWP updates the FMZ spatial layer periodically and VicForests always uses the most up-to-date version.
Yes, the DFA may change over time. VicForests is responsible for the inclusion or exclusion of areas considered a part of the DFA. Any changes to the DFA are completed in consultation with our certification body to ensure that the appropriate level of audit is applied.
No, VicForests DFA describes the entire forest estate that VicForests considers a part of its broader forest management functions – including harvesting. This is designed around the application and understanding of forest management principles of the Standard.
VicForests harvesting intentions are managed through the Timber Release Plan and the Timber Utilisation Plan. Further information on that process can be found on our website.