The New South Wales Government may reclassify old growth forest to open it up to the timber industry.

The Natural Resources Commission of NSW has been asked to remap and rezone old growth forest in state forest informal reserves after a review identified “significant errors” in old growth forest maps.

The pilot study included new maps that reduced the extent of protected old growth in those areas by 78 per cent.

It has now been tasked with a larger remapping exercise covering 14,600 hectares of old growth, with a draft assessment due next month.

The new zones should help fill contracts signed with Forestry Corporation NSW.

The NRC’s original pilot study recommended rezoning proceed only when a shortfall of timber was confirmed.

There is also a remapping process underway for private land in NSW, which has already opened up some previously protected areas to logging.

Oisin Sweeney, senior ecologist at the National Parks Association of NSW, said the pilot study data showed the enormous ecological value if the area, with “high densities of hollow-bearing trees, huge amounts of dead timber and lots of standing dead trees”.

“Forests like this are paradise for native wildlife because lots of our most threatened species need big trees with hollows,” he said.

“It’s abundantly clear that these forests have huge ecological values, and as such they must remain protected.”

The NRC will submit a formal proposal in November, after public consultation.