What can you do in national parks, regional parks and state forests?
Many recreational activities such as four wheel driving, trail bike riding, mountain biking, horse riding and camping can take place in national parks as well as in regional parks and state forests. The rules for four wheel driving and trail bike riding are the same across parks and forests.
National parks are a key part of Victoria’s protected area (or conservation reserve) system. Other protected areas in Victoria include nature reserves, conservation parks and bushland reserves. Protected areas in Victoria and around Australia use an international definition that requires them to be managed mainly for the conservation of nature and associated ecosystem services (such as protecting water catchments) and cultural values. National parks are managed mainly for protection of the natural environment and compatible recreation.
Because national parks are managed for conservation and recreation, activities that extract natural resources such as recreational prospecting, firewood collection and hunting are not usually allowed. Other activities such as car rallies and horse riding on formed roads and tracks are often allowed, but controlled to reduce the impacts on the natural environment or on other recreational users. Dogs on leads or in cars may be allowed in restricted areas.
Victoria’s regional parks are not protected areas according to the international definition as they are managed mainly for informal recreation for large numbers of people in natural or semi-natural surroundings. A wider range of activities is allowed than in national parks including recreational prospecting and activities can also include some harvesting of minor forest produce such as domestic firewood. Dogs and horses are allowed. Hunting is not allowed as it conflicts with use by large numbers of other recreational users.
State forests allow hunting as well as a similar range of recreational activities to regional parks. One of the purposes of state forests is to provide for commercial harvesting of sawlogs and pulpwood, subject to forest zoning.