On 7 November 2019, the Victorian Government announced Victoria’s Forestry Plan, which includes a commitment to immediately end harvesting of old growth forest. The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, asked the Conservation Regulator to independently monitor and publicly report on implementation of the policy.

To achieve this, the Conservation Regulator developed a draft procedure for the field identification of old growth forest. Public feedback on the draft was sought and gathered through an online Engage Victoria survey and submissions received directly. In conjunction, technical advice was received from contractors (working with the Forest Protection Survey Program) and a Scientific Advisory Panel to provide an independent review, with further in-field testing undertaken.

Feedback on the draft procedure

Following closure of the feedback period, the Conservation Regulator made significant changes to the draft and undertook additional in-field testing. Additionally, the Conservation Regulator separated the draft procedure into two documents, an Assessment Tool and a Regulatory Guide.

Feedback received on the draft procedure has been summarised into the ‘Old growth forest field identification procedure - Engagement Report’.

The Assessment Tool

The Old growth forest identification Assessment Tool outlines a step-by-step procedure that must be followed to identify old growth forest, so that it can be protected. The Assessment Tool must be consistently applied prior to timber harvesting throughout the State of Victoria.

The Regulatory Guide

The Regulatory Guide provides information on the Conservation Regulator’s expectations for old growth forest protection. Specifically, the Regulatory Guide sets out requirements to identify and protect old growth forest before timber harvesting is undertaken and describes how the Conservation Regulator will monitor and report on compliance.