Forestry, Clearing Vegetation & Trees - EDO NSW

Forestry, Clearing Vegetation & Trees

Our law reform submissions on forestry, clearing vegetation and trees are available below.

You can also read about our past cases on forestry, clearing vegetation and trees.

Also see our fact sheets on this subject, including forestry, clearing vegetation and trees (including tree disputes).

Read about current opportunities for law reform at Have Your Say about decisions relevant to forestry, clearing vegetation and trees.

To report rural land clearing, fill in our report form

 New biodiversity laws in NSW

In 2016 and 2017 the NSW Parliament passed new laws that significantly change the urban and rural development assessment and approval process. Read more on our feature page.


Biodiversity Assessment Method Draft - EDO NSW submission

October 2019 - Download this submission

EDO NSW has expressed significant concerns about the implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and associated regulations and orders, including the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM). 

We welcome attempts to provide greater clarity around implementation, to reduce the potential for misinterpretation, to remove inconsistencies, and to provide additional information around some aspects of the BAM. Nonetheless many of our concerns about the broader land management and biodiversity conservation framework in which the BAM operates, including the failure to publish all layers of the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map, remain and we strongly object to some aspects of these draft changes. 

Inquiry into the Local Land Services Amendment (Critically Endangered Ecological Communities) Regulation 2019 and Local Land Services Amendment (Allowable Activities) Regulation 2019 - EDO NSW submission

September 2019 - Download submission

These two Amendment Regulations make changes to the Framework that was established by Part 5A of the LLS Act. EDO NSW has ongoing concerns regarding the implementation of the Framework and its ability to ensure the proper management of natural resources consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.

In our view, the Allowable Activities Regulation will further weaken already lax land clearing laws, contribute further to substantial increases in land clearing rates, and put native vegetation and wildlife at risk.

We recommend that the Allowable Activities Regulation be disallowed.

With respect to the CEEC Regulation, we submit that this needs to be considered in the broader context of the recent listing of Monaro Tableland Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands Bioregion and Werriwa Tablelands Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands and South East Corner Bioregions as critically endangered ecological communities in NSW, and also changes made by the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code Amendment (Monaro and Werriwa Grassy Woodland Critically Endangered Ecological Communities) 2019.

Link to this page >>

Submission on the Draft NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program Strategy

The Draft Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program Strategy must be viewed against a background which acknowledges that:

  • NSW forests are managed across a range tenures some of which are managed for conservation and ecological services, and others for extractive forestry;
  • there is a history of poor compliance, lack of enforcement and inadequate monitoring of environmental outcomes in tenures managed for extractive forestry; and
  • this history provides a poor baseline for setting and monitoring environmental outcomes in forest management, particularly extractive forestry, moving forward.

Our submission makes a number of recommendations for improving the draft NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program Strategy.

Download the EDO NSW submission >>

Link to this page >>

Private Native Forestry Review

NSW recently commenced a review of the regulatory framework for forestry operations on private land. The EDO NSW submission makes a number of recommendations for strengthening the rules around private native forestry to improve environmental outcomes, including recommendations for:

  • Strengthening objects for private native forestry in line with principles for ecologically sustainable forestry management;
  • Increasing rigour and transparency in making PNF Codes of Practice;
  • Ensuring that PNF Codes of Practice adopt stringent environmental standards and protect environmentally sensitive land and threatened species from the impacts of logging;
  • Improving accountability and oversight in making PNF plans; and
  • Mandating robust monitoring and compliance of forestry operations.

Download the EDO submission >>

Make your own submission until 15 February 2019 >>


Link to this page >>

Draft Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval - EDO NSW submission

July 2018 - Download submission

The Draft Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) is proposed to replace four, 20-year-old IFOAs that currently operate across Eastern NSW. IFOAs regulate logging in State forests and other Crown-timber lands by the Forestry Corporation of NSW.

Part A of our submission comments on high-level forestry policy drivers. In summary we submit:

  1. Wood supply policy aims must be urgently and transparently revised.
  2. Long-term values of healthy forests outweigh short-term costs of buybacks.
  3. Need for investment and up-to-date understanding of diverse forest values.
  4. Clearer links needed to ESFM principles, including the precautionary principle.
  5. Intensive harvesting limits and transitional arrangements allow unsustainable logging levels.
  6. Inadequate consultation and lack of transparency on important decisions.
  7. Forestry regulation, agencies and operators must be climate-ready and responsive.

Part B comments on the details under nine themes in the Draft Coastal IFOA:

  1. IFOA structure and ‘outcome-focused’ approach
  2. Multi-scale landscape approach
  3. Harvesting practices and limits
  4. Wildlife habitat & tree retention clumps and threatened species protections
  5. Landscape protections
  6. Environmentally Significant Areas and boundary rules
  7. Improved mapping and technology
  8. Monitoring framework
  9. Regeneration standards.

Link to this submission

Submission to Legislative Council Inquiry into the Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (NSW)

30 May 2018: Download this submission.

This submission proposes amendments to the Government Bill introduced to Parliament in order to better regulate forestry operations, both on private land (under the Private Native Forestry Codes and the Local Land Services Act 2013) and public land (under the Forestry Act 2012 and Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs)).

Our recommendations highlight the need for rigorous environmental standards for Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management, a public register of Private Native Forestry approvals, longer consultation periods on draft Codes and IFOAs, and reinstating community rights to take public forestry breaches to Court.

The Committee’s final report, under a new rapid bill review system, was published on 6 June (here).

Note this Bill is related to but separate from the draft Coastal IFOA

Proposed renewal of NSW Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) - EDO NSW submission

March 2018 - Download this submission

Based on evidence of how the agreements have operated to date, EDO NSW does not support the proposed rollover of RFAs. Accordingly, in this submission on the proposed extension of the RFAs for a further 20 years, EDO NSW reiterates five issues with the performance and review of NSW RFAs to date:

  • RFA reviews have not occurred in the required timeframes
  • Poor community consultation
  • Lack of third party civil enforcement and a culture of non-compliance
  • Limited data on environmental indicators
  • Need for transparent forestry governance and operational requirements.

The submission also raises four related issues that require further consultation:

  • a draft of any RFA renewal
  • review of the NSW Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (outstanding since 2014)
  • review of the National Forest Policy Statement and principles that underpin the RFAs
  • new and robust approaches to climate change in any future RFAs (noting that the 2015 Paris Agreement urges nations to take action to conserve and enhance carbon sinks and reservoirs, including forests).

Regional Forests Agreement Review - EDO NSW submission

February 2018 - Download this submission.

In this submission, EDO NSW comments on five overarching issues that apply to the RFA review process, including the development of  A Report of Progress with Implementation of NSW Regional Forest Agreements: Second & Third five-yearly reviews July 2004 – June 2014 (Progress Report).

Our 5 key areas of concern are:

  1. RFA reviews have not occurred in the required timeframes
  2. Poor community consultation
  3. Lack of third party civil enforcement and a culture of non-compliance
  4. Limited data on environmental indicators
  5. Need for transparent forestry governance and operational requirements.

Submission on draft Community Engagement Strategy under Crown Land Management Act 2016 - EDO NSW submission

December 2017 - Download submission

In this submission EDO NSW calls for a reorientation of the draft Strategy from a narrow concern with present “use and enjoyment” to focus instead on the recognised importance of the long-term values and significance of Crown lands.

We also recommend a more open and inclusive approach to engagement that recognises its many benefits, especially for informed decision-making. This reflects the new Act, its objects and the management principles and reflects contemporary expectations of community engagement regarding long-term interests and diverse public lands.

We make 6 key recommendations to strengthen the draft Community Engagement Strategy:

  1. Replace proposed “current use and enjoyment” trigger with a broader test that recognises the long-term values and significance of Crown lands
  2. Community engagement and other criteria should inform impact assessment by Crown land managers
  3. Significantly reduce exceptions and exemptions from community engagement
  4. Engagement principles – Crown land managers should be Accountable and Responsive
  5. The Strategy and the Regulation must require land managers to consider public submissions in decision-making
  6. Format of the Strategy must be clear and enforceable.

This is the latest in a series of submissions on the Crown land reforms.

NSW biodiversity and land management laws: Draft regulations and products on public exhibition – EDO NSW submission

June 2017 – Download all submissions combined

This group of submissions makes over 200 recommendations on the regulations and other instruments that are being implemented to support the NSW Government's biodiversity and land clearing law reform package passed in 2016.

EDO NSW raised a number of key concerns that were not addressed in the 2016 changes. While it is not possible to fix the deficiencies in the laws now they have been passed, the current round of consultations presents an opportunity to insert some protections, procedural safeguards and transparency into the subordinate instruments.

You can download all nine submissions combined, including an executive summary, or read each component separately:

Draft Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017

Draft Local Land Services Amendment Regulation 2017

Draft Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Biodiversity Conservation) Regulation 2017

Explanation of Intended Effect for the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017

Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code

Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM)

Accreditation Scheme for the Application of the Biodiversity Assessment Method

Serious and irreversible impacts guidance

Offsets payment calculator


 Link to the page for these submissions.

NSW Biodiversity Law Reform Package 2016 - EDO NSW submissions

June 2016

Submission on the draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 - Download PDF

Submission on the draft Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016 - Download PDF

Technical submission on the Biodiversity Assessment Method and Mapping Method 2016 - Download PDF

Technical submission on the draft Offsets Payment Calculator - Download PDF

Find out more about the reform package, including EDO NSW blogs and workshop slides.

EDO NSW has been making recommendations for strong biodiversity, native vegetation and land management laws since 1995. We were heavily involved in the development of the current Native Vegetation Act between 2002 and 2005. 

We met with the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel during their deliberations and produced A Legal Assessment of NSW Biodiversity Legislation to assist the panel. We engaged with representatives of the Office of Environment & Heritage, Department of Primary Industries and Department of Planning during targeted stakeholder consultations prior to the public exhibition process. We raised a number of key concerns and made recommendations in these meetings based on our extensive expertise in NSW environmental law.

Unfortunately none of these fundamental concerns or recommendations were addressed in the package developed for public consultation. 

These submissions detail our conclusion that the proposed laws are a retrograde step for NSW biodiversity and land management. While the proposed investment private land conservation is welcome, once this money runs out, we will be left with weak laws that offer no real protection for our unique threatened species and ecological communities and will facilitate ongoing decline in biodiversity. Consequently, we cannot support the proposed package.

Through a series of workshops, seminars and forums, we have spoken to local communities, Landcare members, Local Land Services officers, local councils, ecological consultants, private land conservation agreement holders, Aboriginal people, conservationists, wildlife carers, and private individuals through our advice line. Areas covered include: Hunter, Greater Sydney, North Coast, Northern Tablelands, South East and Central West. We discussed concerns with over 600 people. With the exception of representatives of the NSW Farmers Association, no-one we spoke to told us the proposed laws were an improvement on current laws, and almost all participants were seriously concerned at the implications of the new regime for biodiversity.

Submission on the Review of the Natural Resources Commission Act 2003

February 2016 - Download PDF

In our submission, EDO NSW supports a strengthened, independent scientific body to assess and audit natural resource management in NSW. This will be crucial as changes to native vegetation, biodiversity and coastal management laws are developed and implemented.

Biobanking consultation - Key concern: variation of red flags

21 November 2007 - Download PDF

EDO NSW submission on Local Land Services Draft State and Local Strategic Plans

20 November 2015 - Download PDF

Our submission makes three key recommendations

  1. Local Land Services (LLS) Strategic Plans should not be finalised until the full suite of LLS responsibilities has been clarified, given the significant changes that have been foreshadowed in relation to native vegetation and biodiversity legislation in NSW. Alternatively, the Strategic Plans should build in a formal review process when a new Biodiversity Conservation Act is passed.

  2. Strategies and performance indicators should be made ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).

  3. The Strategic Plans should better articulate the clear role of LLS in ensuring compliance with environmental and natural resource management legislation.

EDO NSW submission on 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice Review

7 November 2014 Download PDF

A legal assessment of NSW biodiversity legislation - Submission to independent review of biodiversity legislation in NSW

September 2014 Download PDF

Submission to Legislative Council inquiry into performance of NSW EPA

August 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft Report - Active and adaptive management of cypress forests in the Brigalow and Nandewar State Conservation Areas

8 August 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice

21 July 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on the Draft Landholder Guides and Draft Orders to implement self-assessable codes under the Native Vegetation Regulation 2013

May 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on the Remake of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs)

April 2014 - Download PDF

Review of the Weed Management in NSW – Draft Report

4 April 2014 - Download PDF

Draft Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Native Forest Bio-material) Regulation 2013 – EDO NSW submission

August 2013 – Download PDF

EDO NSW does not support the Draft Regulation. We submit that native forest bio-material should not be made available for burning to generate electricity, or considered a ‘renewable energy’ source, for a number of reasons, which are detailed in our submission under the following themes:

  1. Definitional issues
  2. Limited information provided on the changes
  3. The ecological impacts of removing biomass
  4. Greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage
  5. Impacts on air and water quality
  6. Creation of market demand and incentives for burning native forest biomass
  7. Compliance and the changing policy context

Link to this submission's page.

NSW Energy from Waste Draft Policy Statement for Public Consultation

May 2013 - Download PDF

Submission the Review of the NSW Biodiversity Banking and Offsets Scheme

9 July 2012 - Download PDF

ANEDO submission on the Draft EPBC Act Environmental Offsets Policy

21 Oct 2011 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on Native Vegetation Laws, Greenhouse Gas Abatement and Climate Change Measures

10 March 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on the proposed Sydney Growth Centres Strategic Assessment 

25 June 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on proposed amendments to the Biobanking Assessment Methodology

19th November 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on proposed changes to Private Native Forestry in NSW 

31 August 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on the DECC Guidelines for Biodiversity certification of environmental planning instruments

21 December 2007 - Download PDF

Submission on the Use of Environmental Offsets under the EPBC Act 1999 - Discussion Paper

3 December 2007 - Download PDF

Submission on the review of the Native Vegetation Regulation

24 August 2012 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission Follow-up Inquiry into the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011

19 January 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on "BioBanking - A Biodiversity Offsets and Banking Scheme" Working Paper

5 March 2006 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the Exposure Draft and Explanatory Memorandum of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill

6 May 2011 - Download PDF

Submission on the Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology under the Native Vegetation Act 2003

4 February 2011 - Download PDF

Submission on the review of the Noxious Weeds Act 1993

28 Jan 2011 - Download PDF

Submission to the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water (DECCW) on the Review of New South Wales Forest Agreements and Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals

23 November 2010 - Download PDF

Draft Ecological Harvesting Plan Guideline for Endangered Ecological Communities

16 August 2010 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on Australia's Native Vegetation Framework - Consultation Draft 

31 March 2010 - Download PDF

Submission to the Joint Select Committee on the Threatened Species Conservation Amendment (Biodiversity Banking) Act 2006

9 May 2007 - Contact Us

Submission on the Plantations and Reafforestation Amendment Bill 2009 and the Plantations and Reafforestation (Code) Amendment Regulation 2009

12 February 2010 - Download PDF

Review of the Native Vegetation Act 2003

02 October 2009 - Download PDF

Submission to the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water (DECCW) on the Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements

15 September 2009 - Download PDF

Submission on the review of the Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology

29 April 2009 - Download PDF

Submission on the Draft Native Vegetation Regulation 2004 and the Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology

January 2005 - Download PDF

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Impacts on Native Vegetation

July 2003 - Contact Us

Submission on the Proposed Biodiversity Banking Scheme

7 February 2008 - Download PDF 

Biodiversity Certification and Banking in Coastal and Growth Areas

13 September 2005 - Download PDF

Submission on the proposed biocertification of the Draft Growth Centres Conservation Plan

18 April 2007 - Download PDF

Productivity Commission Draft Report into the impacts of native vegetation and biodiversity regulations

January 2004 - Download PDF 

briefing notes

AOBVs - or Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value - are special areas containing irreplaceable biodiversity values important to the whole of NSW, Australia or the globe. 

In June 2019 our Law Reform team met with the NSW Energy and Environment Minister to discuss the opportunity to fix the gaps in the current scheme and importantly, implement the AOBV mechanism to protect our most precious places and species. The meeting went well and the Minister has asked for the Department to progress work towards implementing AOBVs, including further meetings with the EDO. 

We know that this - if implemented - will protect critically endangered plants and animals.

Read the briefing note >>


Link to this page >>

Remake of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals - Discussion Paper February 2014

March 2014 - Download PDF

Native Vegetation Regulation EDO NSW Briefing Note – Key Issues Summary 

26 July 2012 - Download PDF

Preliminary identification of key issues relating to the biobanking assessment methodology

30 November 2007 - Download PDF

Discussion Papers