This policy sets out the use and management requirements for school plantations.
- School councils are responsible for managing plantations, including planting, thinning, harvesting and maintaining forest properties allocated to them but the Victorian School Building Authority can help schools make property management decisions. School councils are responsible for clearing rubbish and fire hazards as directed by the Country Fire Authority, local government or the Department.
- Land gifted to a school is classed as department land and cannot be sold privately by the school council.
- Schools should first contact their department regional office for advice on the operation and disposal of plantations.
- This policy falls within the 'Manage' stage of the School Asset Lifecycle.
The Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) recognises the value of sanctuaries and arboreta for schools and the broader community.
A school’s Department regional office is the first point of contact for advice about the management and disposal of plantations.
School councils are responsible for managing plantations, including planting, thinning, harvesting and maintaining forest properties allocated to them.
The Department recommends that sanctuaries and arboreta on central school campuses are identified on School Asset Drawings.
Land use for sanctuaries and arboreta
School councils must not sublet or reallocate a school forest or site to another school or any other party without written consent from their regional office and the VSBA.
Schools must not remove flora and fauna from plantation sites.
Plantation land must not be rezoned or subdivided.
Fuel reduction — bushfire management
Heavy vegetation on school sites may increase the risk of bushfires. In consultation with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and local council, school councils must establish and implement appropriate fire management strategies to reduce combustible fuel and protect the plantation — particularly during the summer fire season. Additional consultation with the CFA and local government may be required as species of flora and fauna may be protected by law.
School councils are responsible for clearing rubbish and fire hazards as directed by the CFA, local council or the Department.
Managing a plantation site
The school council is responsible for costs incurred from harvesting timber and the ‘making good’ of the site after harvest. This includes removing stumps or clearing undergrowth around fully grown trees when considering returning land to the Department.
The school council and any adjoining landowners are responsible for boundary fencing. Fencing must be constructed to a minimum of a three-strand post and wire. The VSBA encourages the addition of netting on common (non-road frontage) boundaries.
The school council is responsible for providing a suitable vehicle access gate on the most appropriate road frontage for use in dry weather. This gate must be padlocked and the keys held at the school.
The school council must provide a suitable sign, attaching it to the gate or fencing on the most appropriate road frontage. The sign should be at least 220mm by 19mm, be made of timber, metal or plastic, and clearly display:
- the school name
- its contact telephone number
- a brief description of planting (for example, pines)
- the approximate date of planting
- an indication of what chemicals (if any) have been used on the site.
Land gifted to a school is classed as department land and cannot be sold privately by the school council.
Schools that own or operate a plantation may hold and use the land for this purpose as:
- a vacant closed school site (usually rural) on freehold title held in the name of the Minister for Education
- a vacant closed state school reserve site (usually rural)
- Crown Land specifically reserved for school forest or plantation purposes
- land held by the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning access as provided under a permissive occupancy agreement
- freehold title either gifted to, or purchased by, the department for plantation purposes and held in the name of the Minister for Education
- land leased from government departments or agencies, local government or private companies such as VicRoads, water authorities and Grand Ridge Plantations, where a school council usually pays rent.
Disposal of plantation sites
When a school council advises their Department regional office that a site is no longer required by that school, the regional office will inspect the site and notify the school council if additional works are required to prepare the land for disposal. This often includes removing tree stumps.
The VSBA defines 3 major styles of plantation:
School endowment plantation
This is an area identified for establishing wood-producing species that will provide a financial return to the school after harvest.
An area with existing flora and fauna features worthy of protection and preservation.
An area set aside for the study and appreciation of native or introduced vegetation.
Reviewed 22 February 2021