The harvesting operation
During harvesting, selected trees are felled, and the branches are removed to produce a log. These logs are then moved out of the forest using machinery such as a skidder or forwarder, which are specialised wheel-tyred machines.
Wherever possible, machines will roll over litter and understorey plants rather than clearing them out of the way, to minimise soil disturbance and overall site impacts.
Logs are taken to a designed area, known as a ‘landing’, where they are stacked and prepared for loading onto trucks. The logs are then transported to a sawmill or other facility for processing. Tree bark and other natural debris are left on site and placed over any tracks to aid in the rehabilitation process.
Upon completion of the harvesting operations, disturbed areas are rehabilitated to prevent soil erosion and promote regeneration.
Commercial species selectively harvested in native hardwood forests include:
- spotted gum (Corymbia citriodora)
- ironbarks (e.g. Eucalyptus fibrosa, E siderophlioa, E crebra)
- other eucalypts.
Harvesting in cypress pine forests is confined to one commercial species – white cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla).
Who does the harvesting?
Selective harvesting is conducted by specialist workers of our customers (known as permittees) or contractors who they employ. This work is undertaken with close oversight by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
To ensure safety and environmental standards are met, workers must have training in:
- workplace health and safety
- machinery operation practices
- environmental care.
Our customers play a crucial role in environmental protection. They must comply with:
- legislative requirements
- relevant codes
- operational harvest plans
- special management requirements.
Code of practice and other legislation
Native timber harvesting must follow the Code of practice for native forest timber production on Queensland’s State forest estate 2020 (the Code). The Code specifies, for example, that:
- at least half the forest stand must not be harvested
- setbacks from watercourses, where harvesting is not permitted, must be established
- harvesting on steep slopes must not occur to protect catchments and soils
- habitat-protection measures must be applied, including keeping and protecting habitat trees, and trees and shrubs with active bird nests.
- soil disturbance must be rehabilitated.
Native timber harvesting is also subject to various other important legislation, including the:
- Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992 for protecting ecological values
- Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and the Queensland Heritage Act 1992 for protecting indigenous and non-indigenous cultural heritage values
- Native Title (Queensland) Act 1993 for respecting native title rights
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to provide a safe and healthy work environment.
We undertake inspections throughout the harvesting process. This includes:
- assessing the harvest area to ensure compliance with the Code and the operational harvest plan
- assessing forest stand and counting habitat and recruitment habitat trees on the retained forest to ensure Code requirements have been met
- checking tracks for necessary drainage works to minimise soil disturbance and run-off.
Operators must address any non-compliances identified during these inspections.
Some selective timber harvesting is audited by Department of Environment and Science to verify compliance with the Code. DAF is also subject to regular independent audits to maintain our Responsible Wood certification.