Unlike many other parts of Australia that practice clear felling (where most or all of the trees are cut down in an area), Queensland practices selective harvesting. Selective harvesting involves:
- selecting individual trees from a site
- leaving at least 50% of the original forest cover, including large trees for animal habitat
- leaving other areas unharvested.
A minimum of 50% of the forest stand must be retained, but a significantly greater percentage is usually kept. The forest stand is a group of trees in a forest that is managed as a single unit. The 50% limit is measured by basal area. This is a forestry term for the cross-sectional area of trees at 1.3 metres from the ground and includes both large and small trees.
Regeneration following selective harvesting
Selective harvesting encourages natural regeneration. In Queensland’s native hardwood forests, there are usually tree seedlings and saplings under the canopy of large trees. These develop slowly until the competition from the mature trees is removed. After selective harvesting, these saplings and seedlings grow faster to reach canopy height.
Planning for selective harvesting
For each selective native timber harvest, we undertake a comprehensive due diligence and planning process to make sure that:
- any values, rights and interests associated with a planned timber harvesting area are identified before harvesting starts
- controls are put in place to make sure these values are protected.
These are detailed in a site-specific operational harvesting plan that sets out:
- where harvesting can and can’t occur
- additional actions to ensure selective harvesting is low impact by creating minimal disturbance in the overall management of the native forest area.
The planning process starts with an extensive search of databases to identify values that are present, or are likely to be present, on the site that may need to be considered and protected, for example:
- flora and fauna
- cultural heritage
- recreation areas
- other forest users.
Actions to protect threatened flora and fauna and ecological communities are detailed in the operational harvest plan and in species management profiles. These must be followed to meet legal obligations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Nature Conservation Act 1992.
Harvesting is excluded from areas such as:
- threatened ecological communities
- known cultural heritage sites
- watercourse protection zones
- steep slopes
- areas of forest without timber resources.
Other actions are also identified during the planning process to protect those values that may be present on the site, such as:
- exclusion areas around individual threatened plants
- a requirement to identify and protect trees used regularly by koalas.