Planning to Harvest Plantations Safely
Note Number: AG1339
Published: January 2008
This Agriculture Note identifies the statutory and safety requirements that need to be observed when planning plantation harvesting on private land in Victoria.
Timber production on private land in Victoria is subject to the provisions of the relevant Local Government Planning Schemes. One of the provisions for all planning schemes is that:
All timber production activities [except agroforestry (the simultaneous and substantial production of forest and other agricultural products from the same land unit), windbreaks and commercial plantations of 5 hectares or less] must comply with the Code of Practice for Timber Production (2007);
referred to as ‘the Code’ in this document.
The relevant Local Government Authorities (LGAs include shires, greater cities etc.) are responsible for overseeing implementation of the Code.
What do I need to do when it’s time to harvest?
A Timber Harvesting Plan (THP) must be lodged by the plantation owner/manager with the relevant LGA, not less than 28 days before the commencement of harvesting operations. This includes all commercial harvesting operations of plantations on private property be they thinning or clear-fall.
What’s required in a Timber Harvesting Plan?
The Code outlines the information that must be included in a THP thus:
The Timber Harvesting Plan must include:
- the months during which operations are to occur;
- estimated timber volumes to be harvested;
- proposed haulage routes;
- a map showing:
- the plantation or coupe location;
- significant features within the coupe boundary including waterways and any areas reserved or specifically managed for protection of biodiversity or aboriginal cultural heritage values;
- the area(s) to be harvested;
- new or upgraded roads;
- plantation infrastructure
- conditions applying to the operation, including any permit conditions where required; and
- fire protection measures.
The Code provides advice on methods to achieve desirable outcomes on each of these issues.
A THP template has been developed to help plantation owners/managers to prepare plans as required by the Code. The template is available from LGAs and Private Forestry Development Committees (contact details below).
Plantation owners/managers should seek professional advice when preparing a THP or they risk delays and potential cost increases. One source of assistance available to growers for timber harvesting planning, supervision and monitoring are professionals who have received accreditation under the Forest Practitioner Accreditation Scheme. This is a voluntary scheme administered by Timber Towns Victoria. (See below for contact details). Other professional forestry consultants would also be appropriate.
Road damage caused by timber cartage
It is the responsibility of the plantation owner/manager to repair any damage to roads caused by their harvesting and haulage operations.
The LGA, in consultation with the plantation owner/manager, must establish the condition of the road prior to harvesting. This may include a site inspection.
When harvesting is complete the plantation owner/manager must advise the LGA. The road condition is then reassessed and the plantation owner/manager is responsible for repairing any damage caused to the road as a result of the timber cartage.
Harvesting operations must be conducted in a safe manner and plantation owners/managers need to be aware of their obligations as the employers of contract and other workers. Insurance and safe work practices are key areas to clarify prior to work commencing.
Under the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), safety is very clearly everyone’s business and the plantation owner/manager will certainly share responsibility should an accident occur.
In relation to forest harvesting the OHS Regulations 2007 impose specific legal responsibilities on employers to eliminate or minimize risks.
Operations should comply with the new Industry Standard “Safety in Forestry Operations: Harvesting and Haulage” WorkSafe Victoria, July 2007.
Under “Essential OHS requirements” this document lists and explains 14 areas to be addressed:-
- Safe work areas
- Risk assessment of ground conditions
- Training, skill development, competency and licensing
- Induction (of all workers to the site)
- Ongoing supply of information and supervision
- Equipment selection and use
- Operator protective structures (ROPS, FOPS etc)
- Emergency procedures
- Coupe invasions (by protestors)
- Incident reporting
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Amenities (water, toilets, shelter)
- First aid (kits and training)
The Standard looks in detail at safety in all aspects of harvesting and haulage operations and is an essential reference for all plantation owners/managers before harvesting begins.
Another recent WorkSafe publication, “Your health and safety guide to forestry” summarises your legal duties and explains how to comply by consulting widely then finding and fixing any potential hazards. Both documents can be down-loaded from the WorkSafe Victoria website www.worksafe.vic.gov.au (search “forestry”) or obtained in print by calling WorkSafe on 1800 136 089.
Web sites of interest
- Department of Sustainability & Environment
- Department of Primary Industries
- Victorian Legislation & Parliamentary Documents
- Worksafe Victoria
Organizations and contacts
- Local Government Planning and Forestry Officers
- Private Forestry staff in local DPI offices (call DSE/DPI Customer Call Centre on 136 186)
- Private Forestry Development Committees (contact DSE/DPI Customer Call Centre on 136 186 for details)
- Timber Towns Victoria, (03) 9667 5555
- Victoria Planning Provisions
- Local Government Planning Schemes
- Code of Practice for Timber Production (2007)
- Local Government Act 1989
- Safety in Forestry Operations: Harvesting and Haulage
This Agriculture Note was originally researched and written by Diana Lloyd, Mt Gambier for the Private Forestry Council Victoria.
Published and Authorised by:
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
1 Spring Street
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