Commercial timber production from public forests

Victoria has approximately 3.2 million hectares of State forest with 1.8 million hectares available for harvesting under the Allocation Order.

In eastern Victoria, after the Allocation Order is modelled and environmental exclusions applied, only 458,000 hectares of State forest is potentially suitable for harvesting.

Each year an average of around 3,000 hectares of native forest is harvested, representing 0.04% of the total forest area.

VicForests is the Victorian Government business that manages the harvest, sale and regrowing of timber from Victorian State Forests.

For more information, refer to Harvest Level Review.

Harvesting regulation and management

Code of Practice for Timber Production

Commercial timber production in Victoria is regulated by the Conservation Regulator and must comply with the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (as amended 2022) and Schedule 1: Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria's State forests.

Forest operator licences (FOLS)

There is no legal requirement for forest workers in Victoria to have a Forest Operator Licence (FOL) (previously known as a Timber Harvest Operator Licence).

Some forest operation managers still require its forest workers to have a FOL.

ForestWorks provides a service called FOLS Skills Verification Program. Workers can use the online system to record their training and skills and share them with employers.

Harvest Level Review

The Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) between the state and Commonwealth governments require Victoria to forecast and publish the Harvest Level from State Forests. Reviews of the Harvest Level must happen at agreed intervals or in response to Major Events.

‘Harvest Level’ is broadly defined in the RFAs as the volume of timber resources that can be harvested from native forests in RFA regions in any financial year, consistent with Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM), until native forest harvesting ceases on 30 June 2030.

The Harvest Level review is an assessment of the available timber volume as at August 2021 that meets ESFM and considers the 2019-20 bushfire impacts, as well as the Victorian Government decision to cease native timber harvesting in 2030.

Harvest Levels in this report will be in place for each financial year until formally reviewed.

Download the report and frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Resource planning

In April 2017 a Timber Utilisation Plan (TUP) replaced Wood Utilisation Plans.

VicForests manages the Timber Utilisation Plan which identifies areas for proposed timber harvesting not covered by the Allocation Order.

The current Timber Utilisation Plan can be viewed on the VicForests’ website.

The allocation of Victoria's timber resources in eastern Victorian State Forests is set out in the Allocation Order 2013 (as amended).

The Minister for Agriculture makes the Allocation Order under Part 3 of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (the Act).

When the Allocation Order is published in the Victorian Government Gazette, the timber allocated by the Order becomes the property of VicForests.

The timber resources are allocated to VicForests for the purposes of harvesting and/or selling.

The Allocation Order provides long-term access to Victoria's timber resources and may be varied or reviewed by the Minister consistent with sections 17 and 18 of the Act.

The Allocation Order describes:

  • the forest stands within State forests to which VicForests has access
  • the location of those forest stands
  • the total extent and available areas of those forest stands
  • the maximum area available for timber harvesting in any five-year period
  • any additional activities that VicForests is permitted to undertake
  • the conditions VicForests must comply with in carrying out its functions under the Allocation Order.

On publication of the Allocation Order, VicForests must carry out its functions in accordance with the Order.

The Allocation Order 2013 was published in the Victorian Government Gazette No S 343 on 1 October 2013 at the same time as the proclamation of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Amendment Act 2013.

The Allocation Order 2013 was amended on 30 October 2014. The Allocation (Amendment) Order 2014 was published in the Victorian Government Gazette No S 405.

The Allocation Order 2013 was further amended on 24 April 2019. The Allocation (Amendment) Order 2019 was published in the Victorian Government Gazette No S 153.

Extent and location of forest stands VicForests can access

The Allocation Order 2013 (as amended) includes a map indicating the general location of the Allocation Area. A copy of the map is below.

Map of Victoria showing allocation areas for ash and mixed species.

The map shows most of eastern Victoria and shows the boundary with New South Wales to the north (top of the map). It also includes the land / Bass Strait sea boundary to the south (bottom of the map) displayed as fading grey bands.

The map legend shows the areas of ash and mixed species forest  in the east and north-east regions of Victoria. Ash is shaded as black and mixed species shaded as grey.

The shaded areas of mixed species forest are greater than the shaded areas of ash forest.

The shaded areas are roughly 50 to 60 kilometres to the east and north-east of Melbourne. They spread to the towns of Omeo, Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Alexandra, Mansfield, Bright, Corryong, and the surrounding areas of those towns. There are some smaller areas in the south-east region of the state, particularly south of the town of Sale.

The spatial data layer

The Allocation Area, as defined in the Allocation Order, means the area of land identified by the spatial data layer certified by the Secretary to the former Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions on 15 April 2019.

The spatial data layer is stored in the Victorian Spatial Data Library under the file name VicForests_Allocation_Apr2019.

Please note - On the 29 April 2019 the DataVic website address where the spatial data layer is available for download changed. The address provided in the gazetted amendment is no longer current.

Downloading the spatial data layer through DataVic requires access to geographic information systems (GIS) software.

Viewing the map in detail

An interactive spatial data layer is also available through the MapShareVic platform. Note that the spatial data layer available through MapShareVic is for public viewing purposes only.

Within MapshareVic the Allocation Area map layer is named ‘VicForests Allocation’ and is in the Forest Layer Theme listed under the Forests/Recreation tab.

VicForests must prepare a Timber Release Plan (TRP) in relation to the Allocation Order to:

  • harvest and/or sell timber resources;
  • undertake management activities, such as construction of access roads and regeneration activities.

The TRP remains VicForests' key planning mechanism to outline future timber management operations.

VicForests must carry out its functions and powers relating to the allocated timber resources or an area to which the Allocation Order applies according to the TRP.

In preparing a TRP, VicForests is required to meet consultation requirements specified in the Allocation Order. TRPs must also be consistent with the Allocation Order and any relevant Code of Practice related to timber harvesting.

VicForests consults widely on its TRPs. All TRPs are evaluated by a number of stakeholders including the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), Parks Victoria and Aboriginal Victoria.

VicForests also provides the opportunity for the local community, individuals and groups to review its proposed TRPs and provide comment.

VicForests must publish a new TRP, or a change to an existing TRP in the Government Gazette.

Copies of current TRPs and maps showing the extent and location of coupes and coupe driveways are on the VicForests website.

Forest regeneration activities are included on VicForests Timber Release Plan (TRP) as per Part 5 of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 (the Act).

TRPs must be consistent with the Allocation Order and any relevant Code of Practice related to timber harvesting.

The Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (as amended 2022) specifies that harvested areas of native forest must be successfully regenerated.

The minimum regeneration standards are outlined in Schedule 1: Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria's State forests. When VicForests has assessed that a coupe has successfully regenerated, that coupe can be removed from the TRP.

The Allocation Order states that VicForests must submit an annual report to the Secretary to DEECA by 30 September each year. The report must describe the area of timber harvested and regeneration results for the previous financial year for ash and mixed species.

Page last updated: 13 January 2023