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Water for commercial forestry

A framework to manage the impacts of commercial forests

'Managing the Water Resource Impacts of Plantation Forests' is a statewide policy framework, to guide the water planning process in regions where commercial forestry is a key land use. The framework helps determine whether forestry should be managed through a permitting or a licensing system in a particular region.

Commercial plantation forests provide significant economic and social benefits to South Australia. The framework helps us balance the social, economic and environmental water needs of the state while providing certainty for industries reliant on water.

Check out our summary brochure of the policy framework.

Also see the CSIRO independent report, which reviews plantations as a water-intercepting land use in South Australia.

The legislation

The Natural Resources Management (Commercial Forests) Amendment Act 2011 (the Act) was assented to in November 2011, providing two new tools for managing the impacts of commercial forestry:

  • forest water licensing system
  • more flexible permit system.

These tools were deemed necessary to implement the statewide policy framework, which assists those involved in water planning by guiding their decision making processes.

Forestwater licensing and permitting

The forest water licensing system is designed to closely mirror the general water licences and permits system, but is specific to the commercial forestry impacts on water. The two systems have been integrated to allow water to be traded between industry sectors, subject to conditions that need to be met to protect water availability and the long-term integrity and security of issued water rights.

To apply the licensing or permitting system, relevant information and policy proposals need to be put into draft regional water affecting activity control policies or water allocation plans, both of which are prepared by regional landscape boards. Following statutory consultation with regional communities and other interested parties, the policies or plans are adopted by the Minister for Environment and Water.