State forests, the setting aside of which had been provided for under the first Forests Act in 1874, were now defined in a special section of the new Act. It stated that Crown land could be set aside as “permanent” or “provisional” State forest. The former was forest land which should come under permanent forest management, and the latter forest land suitable for settlement once cut over. State forest planning, including provisional, could be revoked only by resolution of Parliament. This astute piece of legislation, the doing of Sir Francis Dillon Bell, ensured that the reasons for changes of policy had to be very sound. It stopped indiscriminate clearing of forests and was a main factor in saving much remaining forest, both timber and protection.
In 1955 a survey of native forests based on aerial photography, was completed, together with ground checking and volume assessment. This gave accurate forest maps showing types, together with the approximate amount of standing timber.
Apart from forming State forests and regulating timber sales more closely, the Department began to expand the modest programme of afforestation undertaken hitherto. Between the years 1898 and 1922, 47,000 acres had been planted by the Lands Department and local bodies and private individuals had also undertaken some planting. The 1913 Royal Commission had inquired especially into the matter of afforestation and recommended an increase.
The exotic forests by 1913 amounted only to 65,000 acres.