NEWS 6 Feb 2024 |
Regional forest agreements (RFAs) will end in December 2024.
If you don’t understand what an RFA is, you’re not alone. They don’t make much sense. Created in the 90s between federal and state governments, RFAs are essentially a special carve out for the logging and woodchip industry. They virtually override our national nature laws with a different set of standards and procedures. These standards are woefully inadequate and don’t reflect current science. Which is why it’s good to see the state government announce that Victoria’s RFAs will end this year. This is fantastic news for our forests and wildlife.
Speaking of not making much sense, when native forest logging ended in areas covered by RFAs on 1 January this year, it didn’t cover all of our forests and woodlands.
Community forestry, run by VicForests, was still damaging some of our forests, mostly in western Victoria. This native forest logging was allowed under Forest Product Licences, due to expire on 30 June 2024.
And here we have more good news – as of yesterday, community forestry is a thing of the past. This is a massive win for the forests of the west and the wildlife that call them home.
These are massive milestones in Victoria’s native forest logging journey. But there are still two types of native forest logging VNPA are concerned about. 1. Forest Product Licences
Community forestry might be finished, but Forest Product Licences can still be issued. Some licences are important to local livelihoods – like beekeeping and plant collection. But in certain parts of Victoria, these licenses can be exploited to rubber stamp logging. It’s unclear who will have the power to give out these licences. Or if they’ll be used for future logging under a different guise. These licences need to be fixed. We need to make sure they’re fit for purpose in a post native forest logging world. 2. Rogue logging
Places like Wombat Forest and Dandenong Ranges National Park are being ravaged by rogue logging branded as ‘storm clean up’. In forests across the state, trees are being razed to create new fire breaks without clear reason.
Rogue logging is covered by different rules, because it comes under the branding of fire management. And it has no oversight. We need appropriate oversight of rogue logging, to provide proper protections for our wildlife and their habitats.
We’re pleased native forest logging has ended, but now we need to close the loop holes. We need to make sure we have nature laws that are fit for purpose.