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The Victorian and Commonwealth governments are allegedly actively seeking community input to inform the modernisation of the five Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).
However, it is clear that many of the decisions to renew the RFAs have already been made, and the ‘consultation’ appears to have a pre-ordained outcome.
The RFAs, set up almost 20 years ago, are agreements between the state and federal governments that mostly deals with commercial native forest logging on public land (state forests) in Victoria. Essentially, it is an agreement to log our native forests, but without the need for assessment of threatened species or natural heritage under national environmental protection laws.
Two decades on, the state and federal governments are attempting to renew the agreement to lock in a further 20 years of logging for Victoria – still exempt from national environmental protection laws.
Today, we are particularly concerned about the renewal of the obsolete West Victorian Regional Forest Agreement (Western RFA).
The Western RFA is out of date, unnecessary and ecologically-damaging – and it should not be renewed.
The Western RFA covers a huge area from Melbourne to the South Australian border and is rich in threatened species and endangered habitats which should be protected. The west is already fragmented landscape containing some of the most cleared ecosystems in the whole state – there is hardly any native forest left to log.
This is not even about jobs. There is very little native forestry industry remaining in the west. In fact, total state government revenue from western native forest logging is only $700,000 per year, even less if you subtract government subsidies.
But that doesn’t seem to be halting plans to lock in special deals and to continue to log important parts of what remains.
The Western RFA is based on a false premise, is obsolete, and should be cancelled because:
- There is little native forestry industry left in the west;
- It was originally set up due to the export of woodchips, but there is no longer native forest export from the west of the state;
- It is largely state-funded and unprofitable;
- Independent reviews have recommended for the Western RFA to be cancelled;
- It is ecological-damaging and has delivered little to protect native forests since its inception, despite the promise that it would do so;
- There are still significant gaps in the protected area and reserve system in western Victoria;
- The west is an area rich in threatened species and endangered habitats which should be protected.
The Western RFA is now out of date, and it is unnecessary, disproportionate and damaging to renew such an agreement where the economic and ecological context has changed dramatically in the last 20 years.
Yet the state and federal governments are planning to renew the agreement and expand it to cover not just native forest but also plantations.
It is important that the Andrews and Morrison governments hear communities’ views on the failures and problems with renewing the Regional Forest Agreements.
We have prepared a range of briefing material to help you respond. The first set of materials are related to the Western RFA, and we will provide other materials regarding the eastern RFAs shortly.
A discussion paper has been produced by the state government (view here).
There are a number of ways you can have input. You can:
- Lodge a written submission (open until 30 June 2019)
We have prepared a detailed Issues Paper on the Western RFA which you can view or download here. Read this to inform your own written submission on the Western RFA – you can use some or all of our points and also add your own. Your written submission can be as short or as long as you like. Upload your written submission under the to ‘Upload a Written Submission’ section at engage.vic.gov.au/future-of-our-forests/rfa-consultation-paper
- Respond to the online survey (open until 30 June 2019)
This is a quite long survey at engage.vic.gov.au/future-of-our-forests/rfa-consultation-paper
You can use our survey guide (view or download here) to help you answer the questions.
- Attend a drop-in session in June
Meet face-to-face with Victorian and Australian government representatives at a drop-in session in your RFA region in June 2019. Details here: www2.delwp.vic.gov.au/futureforests/get-involved/current-and-upcoming-opportunities
- Contact the Ministers
Write or email to the federal or state environment ministers with your concerns. You could even send them your submission.
- Victorian Environment Minister The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio MP
Email: lily.d’[email protected]
Phone: 9637 9504
8 Nicholson Street
East Melbourne, Victoria, 3002
- Federal Environment Minister The Hon. Sussan Ley MP
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6277 7920
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra, ACT 2600