Wood Central’s exclusive mapping: in-depth insights into NSW native forests

On the eve of the NSW state election (Saturday, March 25), exclusive data reveals the current state of forest conservation and management.

Wed 22 Mar 23


Wood Central’s exclusive release of spatial mapping data sheds new light on the current state of NSW public native forests.

According to spatial mapping provided by the NSW DPI Forest Science unit and commissioned by Timber NSW, 88% of these forests are reserved from timber harvesting, leaving just 12% available for commercial harvesting.

This information is crucial for voters to understand the true extent of current forest conservation efforts, and to evaluate the various policy proposals put forth by the contending parties.

In another Wood Central exclusive, a recently released Ernst & Young report exposed the potential shortcomings of the plan for a Great Koala National Park.

Ernst + Young Report shows that northeast NSW supplies two-thirds of the state’s nation-building hardwood timber, which makes an important contribution to the state’s economy … and jobs.

The report argues that such a park, while well-intentioned, may not be the most effective or feasible solution for koala conservation.

Spatial mapping data: unveiling the complex landscape

To provide a more comprehensive understanding of the situation, Wood Central has provided access to spatial maps for various regions within NSW. Including:

All areas represent major public native forest areas in NSW and provide, for the first time, a true picture of timber harvesting in NSW public native forests.

For the purpose of the maps, the red shaded area represents ‘no-go’ zones for harvesting while the green shaded area represents areas where harvesting is permitted.

The mapping reveals a complex landscape, where the vast majority of public native forests are already protected from timber harvesting.

The importance of riparian corridors and gully protections

The mapping also emphasises the importance of riparian corridors and gully protections.

The area identified is managed by Forestry Corporation of NSW. Forestry Corporation of NSW is one of 30 forests certified under AS / NZS 4708: 2021 – Sustainable Forest Management. This standard is used by Australian forest growers to make Responsible Wood and PEFC claims on forest products. In order to make claims, Forestry Corporation of NSW must use riparian corridors and gully protections to protect biodiversity and the overall health of the surrounding ecosystems. To find out more about forest certification visit Responsible Wood.

These protection zones play a critical role in maintaining the overall health of the ecosystem and supporting biodiversity. They serve as vital links between different habitats, allowing wildlife to move more freely and access essential resources, such as food and water.

Understanding riparian corridors and gully protections

A riparian corridor is a vegetated area adjacent to streams, rivers, or other bodies of water, providing essential habitat and ecological functions. In forestry, gully protection refers to the conservation of erosion-prone landforms by maintaining vegetation cover and implementing practices to prevent soil disturbance, thereby preserving water quality and supporting wildlife habitats.

Focus on Eden and the North-East

The Eden and North-East regions, both long-standing political touchpoints, highlights the importance of riparian corridors and gully protections in native forest management.

North-East New South Wales is the location of the Great Koala National Park which has been a major feature in NSW election coverage. Wood Central has covered the Great Koala Park extensively.

Identified as red ferns amongst the highlighted green, these areas effectively act as forestry buffers and are essential for conserving threatened species, and for maintaining the overall health and resilience of the local ecosystem.

The Eden region is another politically contentious area – it is location of the only woodchip mill (softwood and hardwood) in NSW.

The mapping offers a crucial insight into the complexities of native forest conservation and management in NSW.

The data reveals that a significant portion of public native forests are already protected from timber harvesting, emphasising the importance of riparian corridors and gully protections for maintaining ecosystem health and supporting biodiversity.

As the NSW state election approaches, this information is invaluable for voters seeking to make informed decisions regarding forest management policies.

Ultimately, striking a balance between sustainable timber harvesting and robust conservation efforts is essential for the long-term well-being of both the environment and the communities that depend on it.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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