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The precise application of the term varies by jurisdiction. For example:
- In Australia, it is forest that is protected by state laws, rather than by the Government of Australia.
- In Austria, the state forests are managed by the Österreichische Bundesforste
- In Germany, it is called the Bundesforst, or federal forest, which is controlled by the Bundesforstverwaltung ("Federal Forest Office")
- In New Zealand, it is forest that is controlled by a central government agency.
- In Poland, state-owned forests are managed by the State Forests agency
- In the United Kingdom, it is any forest (usually plantations) owned and managed by the Forestry Commission.
- In the United States, it is a forest owned by one of the individual states.
The purpose of a state forest varies between countries and the quality of the landscape it covers. In most[weasel words] places, state forests are divided into land for logging plantations, area for conservation, area for livestock grazing and area for visitor recreation.