Monitoring of standards
Monitoring of standards is carried out at three levels under the forest practices system:
- Routine monitoring of operations by Forest Practices Officers employed by forest managers. This level of monitoring is often undertaken as part of formal environmental management systems and the Australian Forestry Standard, which also involve third party audits.
- Formal reporting on compliance is required for all FPPs under s. 25A of the Forest Practices Act 1985 (see 'Certification of compliance' below).
- Independent monitoring is carried out by the FPA across a representative sample of FPPs in accordance with s.4(E)(1)(b) of the Forest Practices Act 1985 (see 'Independent assessment of forest practices plans' below).
Certificate of compliance
The Forest Practices Act 1985 requires a certificate of compliance to be lodged with the FPA within 30 days of the completion of operations prescribed within an FPP.
These certificates must be completed by an FPO and lodged by the person who applied for the plan. The FPA requires the reports to provide certification within one of the following categories:
- FPP fully complied with - this means that all provisions of the plan were fully complied with; or
- FPP not fully complied with:
- No further action required - this generally involves a change in the operation such as a reduction in the actual harvest area. Such changes are noted and amendments are made to the FPP database.
- Matter resolved through corrective action - this generally means that the FPO undertaking the final compliance check has detected non-compliance and has issued a notice under the Forest Practices Act 1985 to require corrective action to ensure compliance with the plan. Such actions may include remedial work to improve regeneration results or stabilising disused access tracks. Follow up monitoring is undertaken by the FPO.
- Further action required - this generally involves a non-compliance issue that requires further investigation and action by the FPA and generally involves situations where adverse long-term environmental harm has occurred or a corrective action is not being undertaken.
Reports on the lodgement of compliance certificates are included int he FPA's annual reports on the publication web page.
Independent assessment of forest practices plans
The annual assessment program provides the instrument by which the FPA addresses its statutory obligations under s.4(E)(1)(b) of the Forest Practices Act 1985 which states that the FPA must, at least once each financial year, 'assess the implementation and effectiveness of a sample of forest practices plans'.
To this end, the FPA conducts systematic assessments of FPPs to objectively obtain and assess evidence to evaluate performance against the requirements of the Forest Practices Act 1985 and the Forest Practices Code.
The annual assessment program has been developed in line with the Australian Standard AS/NZS ISO 19011:2003: Guidelines for quality and/or environmental management systems auditing. The assessment process is based on the FPA's Monitoring and Assessment protocols.
The formal assessment process is based on a stratified random sample of about 100-120 certified FPPs selected from the FPA's FPP database. The results of the independent assessments are included in the FPA's annual 'Forest practices compliance and assessment reports' on the publications web page.
Investigations and enforcement
The FPA investigates all complaints relating to alleged breaches of the Forest Practices Act 1985, the Forest Practices Code or poor practices. Investigations are undertaken directly by FPA compliance staff, or by consultant FPOs. Reports and recommendations are reviewed by the Chief Forest Practices Officer and, when appropriate, by the board of the FPA, against investigation and enforcement protocols (determined by the board). Investigations may also be undertaken in cooperation with other government agencies.
The forest practices system is designed to achieve high environmental standards, with an emphasis on planning, training and education. Where issues arise, the FPA prefers that they will be dealt with through early detection and corrective action. Corrective action may involve remedial action, as well as reviewing and improving systems to ensure that similar issues do not arise in the future. Education is considered critical in ensuring individuals and companies or agencies understand their responsibilities under the Forest Practices Act 1985, as well as having the capacity to meet their duty of care obligations. Where issues arise that generally reflect inadequate systems, or insufficient care or repeat offences, penalties are appropriate to reinforce the due diligence that all parties must apply when undertaking activities identified under the Forest Practices Act 1985.
Legal enforcement may be taken in several ways:
- FPOs may give verbal or written notification (under s. 41(1)) in order to require persons to comply with the Forest Practices Act 1985 or an FPP. Where this notice is not complied with, an FPO may issue a second notice (under s. 41(2)) to direct the person to cease operations and carry out any work required to ameliorate any damage incurred as a result of the breach. Failure to comply with a s. 41(2) notice is considered a breach under the Act and can lead to prosecution.
- The FPA may prosecute for failure to have operations covered by an FPP (s.17), for failing to comply with an FPP (s. 21) or for failing to lodge a certificate of compliance (s. 25A).
- The FPA may impose fines as an alternative to prosecution (s. 47B).
The outcomes of investigations and enforcement actions taken by the FPA are summarised in the annual reports of the FPA which are on the publications web page.
An analysis of investigations and enforcement actions for the period 2000 to 2006 is detailed in Wilkinson (2007)
Contacting the Compliance Program
The FPA's Compliance Program has two officers to cover compliance-related issues in Tasmania:
Mick Schofield, Compliance Manager, is responsible for the south, south-east, central highland regions.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 6233-7966
Jo Field, Forest Practices Advisor, is responsible for the north-east, central north, north-west, west coast regions.
Email email@example.com; phone 6336-5380
Content last modified August 21, 2012, 10:20 am