The purpose of the Forest Practices Code is to ‘prescribe the manner in which forest practices shall be conducted so as to provide reasonable protection to the environment’. The Code applies to forest practices on all land tenures, public & private. It provides a practical set of guidelines and standards for the protection of environmental values, in particular:
- soil and water
- flora, fauna, and genetic resources
- cultural heritage (includes European and Aboriginal heritage)
- visual landscape.
The Code specifically encapsulates management of listed Matters of National Environmental Significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Specifically, these matters are: World and National Heritage, wetlands of international significance, listed threatened species and communities, and listed migratory species.
Examples of management prescriptions include requirements to retain a defined percentage of nesting or foraging habitat for specific listed species, distance buffers to protect specific cultural natural values (such as nests and dens), and temporal prescriptions (for instance requiring an activity to be carried out, outside the breeding season of a particular species).
All forest practices, other than activities that are exempt under the Forest Practices Regulations 2017, must be carried out under a certified Forest Practices Plan. Once certified, a Forest Practices Plan becomes a legal document that must be complied with.