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5. Planning Guidelines for Harvest Exclusion Areas

5.1 Production Forest
5.2 Buffer Zones and Protected Areas Protection
5.3 Watercourse and Buffer Zones


To identify and protect areas to be excluded from harvesting.

To identify and protect sensitive areas within harvest zones.

To reduce negative downstream impacts on people and resources.

Maintenance of biodiversity is of primary importance in flora and fauna conservation. Conservation of biodiversity is dependent on the maintenance of habitat, enhancing opportunities for recolonisation of cut-over areas, and by linking exclusion areas to allow genetic interchange. This may be achieved in the following ways:

Setting aside reserves within production areas large enough to maintain viable populations of plants and animals.

Retaining areas of unlogged forest to maintain habitat diversity. These areas should connect patches of forest as corridors that will not be logged.

Retaining habitat trees in production areas where appropriate for wildlife.

Protecting rare and endangered species and communities in production areas by modifying harvesting regimes or maintaining sections of unlogged forest.

Protecting representative areas of all forest types in conservation or reserve forests.

Maintaining databases on the distribution of plants and animal species within forest areas is also useful for benchmarking purposes.

5.1 Production Forest

5.1.1 Exclusion Areas

Areas will be excluded from harvesting as follows:

declared Protected Areas under any national or provincial legislation;

areas of cultural importance;

declared areas of ecological or scientific importance, including coral reefs, lagoon islands, swamps, wetlands, mangroves and forest catchments;

areas specified under legislation or regulations for local customary land use practices, including the protection of village water supply catchments.

5.1.2 Buffer Zones within Production Forest

Buffer zones are excluded from harvesting as follows:

cultural areas including village areas, gardens;

shorelines, lagoons, lakes and water storage areas;

landslip areas;

designated watercourses[1]. (This is the area from bank to bank of normal flush season flow, Figure 5-1);

specific wildlife habitats and areas containing endangered species.

Figure 5-1: Stream Buffer Exclusion Areas

5.1.3 Management of Areas Excluded from Harvesting

Areas excluded from harvesting are to be managed as follows:

no trees to be felled within Protected Areas or their buffer zones;

machine access is prohibited within Protected Areas and their buffer zones except where watercourse crossings are permitted. Where permitted, access must be by the shortest possible distance;

if a tree has been felled inadvertently into a watercourse, all debris is to be removed without disturbance to the watercourse bank;

no earthworks, or spoil from earthworks, is to fall within a designated Protected Area or its buffer zone;

no harvesting debris is to be pushed into areas excluded from forest harvesting;

trees should be felled away from buffer zones and watercourses where possible.

5.2 Buffer Zones and Protected Areas Protection

Buffer zones and Protected Areas are required irrespective of whether or not the feature is identified on available maps.

Field inspection is an important and necessary part of harvesting operations to determine Protection Areas and buffer zones.

Buffer Zone Protection


Minimum required buffer zone protection

Cultural areas

Buffer of 30 m

Buffers around:

Water storage areas

The buffer width is measured from the high water mark, or edge of the mangrove vegetation if this occurs above the high water mark. The minimum width depends on slope:

where slope is less than 17%, buffer width = 50 metres

where slope is greater than 17%, buffer width = 100 metres.

The only exceptions are:

for a log pond, where the buffer may be reduced to 50 metres.

for a wharf, associated log pond and ship loading area projection to the seaway where vegetation may be cleared to the water's edge for the width of the wharf, to a maximum of 100 metres.

Landslip areas

The area of the landslip, the landslip spoil and the catchment of the slip and spoil.

Designated watercourses (Defined in Section 5.3)

Retain vegetation on both sides of the watercourse.

Delineation of the buffer zone will start where the vegetation is 10 metres high or greater.

Class 1 Stream - 30 metres each side
Class 2 Stream - 20 metres each side
Class 3 Stream - 10 metres each side

Gullies - merchantable trees may be felled, but extraction equipment is not permitted within 10 metres of either side

Waterways (catchment area 2 ha) - merchantable trees may be felled, but extraction equipment is not permitted within 5 metres of either side

5.3 Watercourse and Buffer Zones

Watercourse definitions


Zones which receive and conduct concentrated overland flow for some period in most years. Flows may be permanent or periodic.

Watercourses include streams, gullies and waterways and classes are defined in terms of permanency of flow, bed material, width and bank slope.

The high bank of watercourses is the level which water reaches during normal season peak flows, and may include a flood plain area. This adjacent flood plain area may be a swamp or stream meander.


Streams are those watercourses where water may flow for more than 2 months in most years. The beds are generally characterised by the presence of clean, water-washed stone, gravel, or exposed bedrock materials.

Class 1 streams - width of the stream-base = more than 20 metres

Class 2 streams - width of the stream-base = 10 to 20 metres

Class 3 streams - width of the stream-base = less than 10 metres


Gullies are steep-sided channels.

The slope of at least one bank exceeds 25%

Depth of the bank adjacent to the bed may be 30 cm or more.

The beds of gullies are soil or covered with bark, branches or leaf litter.

Vegetation may be growing.

Water will flow for less than 2 months in most years.


Swamps have surface water present for 6 months or more of the year.

Designated watercourses

These are all classes of streams where vegetation buffers are to be marked in the field before harvesting commences.

Buffer zones and crossing points for designated watercourses, as shown in Figures 5-2 and 5-3, should be:

shown on logging plans;
approved in the field by a Forest Authority Officer before operations commence.
A suggested process for classifying watercourses is provided in Figure 5-4.

Figure 5-2: Gully Buffer Strips

Figure 5-3: Waterway Buffer Zones

Figure 5-4: Classification of Watercourses

[1] Defined in Section 5.3.

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