The Victorian Government has commenced a consultation process on Regional Forest Agreements.

Please take time to make a submission in this process so our voices are heard and necessary changes are made.

Submissions close 5pm (AEDT) on Monday 29 January 2018 – so follow the steps below today.

 

Make your submission

The state government is calling for submissions from the public for a massively overdue review of the five Victorian Regional Forest Agreements. It has set up an unnecessarily complicated process which it likely hopes will discourage you from having your say. But don’t worry – we’ve broken down the steps for you here:

  1. Download this cover letter: Click here for the Word Doc| Click here for the editable PDF [Download and open in Adobe Reader to edit]
  2. Fill in your details (for most people, this will just be name and email or postal address) and save the file.
  3. Copy the suggested submission text below and paste it into an email or write your own. More information about the RFAs here.
  4. Attach your saved cover letter and send the email to [email protected].

Alternatively, you can post your submission –  just remember to print and send in the completed cover letter – to RFA Review – Submission, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, PO Box 500, East Melbourne VIC 3002.


Example Letter – cut some, or all, or write your own

To whom it may concern,

I write regarding progress with implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2014.

The RFAs sought to balance and protect the full range of environmental, social, economic and heritage values. However the Victorian RFAs have comprehensively failed to meet these objectives and are a regulatory relic.

RFAs are out of date and not fit for purpose. They have failed environmentally, socially and economically, and must not be extended, or rolled over. Twenty years on from the signing of the RFAs, much has changed and RFAs are no longer fit for purpose. RFAs fail because they are:

  • Obsolete and out of date – Many of the standards for the protection of ecosystems fall below international benchmarks. The agreements do not even mention climate change and its potential impacts.
  • Threaten species and ecosystems – In 2015, mountain ash forest, one of the key target species for logging, was listed as critically endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Ecosystems.
  • Ignore fire impacts –RFAs ignore the successive or cumulative impact of bushfire, even though there have been extensive fires in the last 10 years.
  • Ignore other forest values – RFAs do not recognise, include or account for non-wood forest values (such as water, ecosystem services, recreation and tourism) that are contributing significant sums to the state’s economy, and could contribute further.
  • Ignores previous review – Recommendations relating to improved threatened species outcomes, from the previous RFA five-yearly review in 2009, have still not been complied with.
  • Unjustified special treatment for native forest logging – Most industries have to follow the law, yet regional forest agreements are exempt from national environmental laws.
  • Stifles innovation – the method of harvesting native forest, clear fell logging, has not changed significantly in 30 years and has a dramatic impact on the native habitats and drinking water production.
  • Regulatory relic – Western Regional Forest Agreement. The last RFA independent review in 2010 recommended that the western RFA be canceled, but as recently as mid-2017, revised ecologically damaging logging plans have been released for targeted logging of woodlands right across the west, which will take place in areas known to harbour more than 20 threatened native animals and 14 threatened native plants.

I recommend the following modifications, at a minimum ending the special treatment this industry enjoys under the RFAs by:

  • end the regulatory relic which is the western forest agreement and comprehensively review proposed logging plans;
  • discontinuing the industry’s exemption from national environment laws in all RFAs;
  • accounting for other forest-dependent industries—such as conservation recreation, tourism, agriculture, water, and carbon—in any arrangement or agreements going forward;
  • Strengthen management prescriptions for threatened species, climate change impacts, and fire;
  • Make substantial additions to the formal reserve system.

The looming expiration of the RFAs provides a once-in-two-decades opportunity to put in place improved and modern and transparent arrangements for management of Victoria’s publicly owned native state forests—based on current science, and on community views about how our state forests should be valued, used and managed.

This overdue five-yearly review ought to recommend the RFAs be abandoned and a transition plan put in place to move out of native forestry, in its current form.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]