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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The Western RFA is out of date, unnecessary and ecologically-damaging – and it should not be renewed.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The Western RFA is based on a false premise, is obsolete, and should be cancelled because: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.


Take Action

They recently conducted a community consultation with submissions closed on 7 July.

Thank you to everyone who made a written submission, filled in the online survey or attended a drop-in session.

You can read the Victorian National Parks Associations submission here.

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.

It is important that the Andrews and Morrison governments continue to hear communities’ views on the failures and problems with renewing the Regional Forest Agreements.

A discussion paper has been produced by the state government (view here).

We have prepared briefing materials, one detailed Issues Paper specifically on the Western RFA which you can view or download here and a second Issues Paper on all  the RFAs (you can find it here)

Please contact the Ministers

Write or email to the federal or state environment ministers with your concerns.

  • Victorian Environment Minister The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio MP
    Email: lily.d’[email protected]
    Phone: (03) 9637 9504
    Address:
    Level 16, 8 Nicholson Street
    East Melbourne, VIC, 3002
  • Victorian Agricultural Minister The Hon. Jaclyn Symes
    Email: [email protected]
    Phone:(03) 8392 2261
    Address:
    Level 36, 121 Exhibition Street
    Melbourne, VIC 3000
  • Federal Environment Minister The Hon. Sussan Ley MP
    Email: [email protected]
    Phone: (02) 6277 7920
    Address:
    PO Box 6022
    House of Representatives
    Parliament House
    Canberra, ACT 2600
  • Federal Agriculture Minister The Hon. Bridget McKenzie
    Phone: (02) 6024 2560
    Email: [email protected]
    Address:
    172 High Street
    Wodonga, VIC, 3690