The Regional Forests Agreements – Promise Betrayed

The RFAs exempt VicForests from Commonwealth regulation (impact statements, export permits and threatened species protections) in return for a promise from Victoria of sustainable logging. The RFAs have failed as logging in Vic is not sustainable, even simply in terms of wood production, far less if the values of biodiversity and other uses of the forest are concerned.

In effect, the RFA gives the states carte blanche without any real accountability.

From the Overview and History of RFAs:

Regional Forest Agreement extension. As part of each RFA’s third five-yearly review, the Australian and state governments can agree a process to extend the RFA. In October 2013, the Australian Government committed to maintaining its support for long-term RFAs by seeking to extend and establish 20-year rolling lives for each RFA. This will be achieved by extending RFAs for five years following the successful completion of each RFA’s five-yearly review.

The RFAs were supposed to be reviewed every five years with the third review, commencing at the 15 year point leading into the negotiations for the renewal.  In fact the first five yearly review of the Victorian RFAs was so late that it was included in the second review from 2009.  Look here for the documentation of the 5 / 10 year review. This includes the Scoping Agreement, the draft report on the implementation of the Victorian RFAs, the publicly available submissions to the review, the Independent Reviewer’s report (Sept 2010) and the Joint Governments’ Response (only finalised in April 2015).

The combined third-yearly review of the Victorian RFAs commenced in May 2016 with the signing of the Scoping Agreement for the third five-yearly review of progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (May 2016). The Scoping Agreement sets out the arrangements agreed by the Victorian and Australian governments for undertaking the review.  See figure here for proposed workflow.

The five Victorian RFAs are to be reviewed simultaneously. The review covers the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2014.

In accordance with the Scoping Agreement, the Victorian and Australian governments were to produce   a report on implementation of the Victorian RFAs, for the period 2009-2014 by the end of 2016 for public comment. As of August 2017 this report had not been released. 

The RFPG calls for the scrapping of the RFAs and a major revision of the National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS).