Regional forest agreements
The State of Victoria and the Commonwealth of Australia entered into five Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) between February 1997 and March 2000 as follows:
|Regional Forest Agreements||Date of Agreement|
|East Gippsland||3 February 1997|
|Central Highlands||27 March 1998|
|North East||9 August 1999|
|West Victoria||31 March 2000|
|Gippsland||31 March 2000|
These 20-year agreements establish the framework for the conservation and sustainable management of forests within each of the five Victorian RFA regions. The main objectives of the Victorian RFAs are:
- to identify a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system and provide for the conservation of those areas
- to provide for the ecologically sustainable management and use of forests in each RFA region, and
- to provide for the long-term stability of forests and forest industries.
The Victorian RFAs seek to balance and protect the full range of environmental, social, economic and heritage values that forests provide for current and future generations. The RFAs are a key outcome of the National Forest Policy Statement (1992) through which the Australian, state and territory governments committed to the sustainable management of all Australian forests, whether the forest is on public or private land, or reserved or available for timber production.
To assist in achieving their objectives, each of the Victorian RFAs contains milestones. In addition, Victoria and the Commonwealth identified other obligations, to ensure the RFAs are implemented effectively.
Further information on RFAs can be found at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture website.
Five-yearly review of Victoria's RFAs
An important element of each of the Victorian RFAs is the requirement for a five yearly review of the performance of the RFAs. Clauses 30, 31 and 32 of the East Gippsland RFA, Clauses 36, 37 and 38 of the Central Highlands and North East RFAs, and Clauses 37, 38 and 39 of the West Victoria and Gippsland RFAs require the five yearly reviews to provide an assessment of progress made against the RFAs, and include:
- the extent to which milestones and obligations have been met, including the management of the National Estate
- the results of monitoring of sustainability indicators
- invited public comment on the performance of the Agreement.
Process for the review of Victoria's RFAs
A review of progress with implementation of the Victorian RFAs from the date the RFAs were signed to 30 June 2009, which covers two five-yearly periods, is complete.
The review formally commenced in September 2009 upon signing of a scoping agreement for the review by the Victorian Government and Commonwealth of Australia (the Parties).
The Scoping Agreement provided for the five Victorian RFAs to be reviewed simultaneously. The review covered two periods: the first from the date the RFAs were signed to 30 June 2004 and the second from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2009, and satisfied the requirement to undertake a review of the performance of the RFAs for the first two five-yearly periods.
The process for conducting the five-yearly review of Victoria's RFAs, as outlined in the Scoping Agreement, is as follows:
- Preparation of a Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements
- Appointment of an Independent Reviewer
- Publish and release of the Draft Report for a period of public submissions of not less than eight weeks
- Review of public submissions by the Independent Reviewer, and further targeted consultation undertaken by the Independent Reviewer as required
- Presentation of a report by the Independent Reviewer to the Parties on the Draft Report, which includes issues raised in the public submissions
- Preparation and release of a joint government response to the Independent Reviewer's report by the Parties, and
- Preparation and release of a final report on progress with implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements.
Under the terms of the Scoping Agreement the review will not open up the RFAs to re-negotiation, however following the completion of the review the Parties may agree to minor modifications to the RFAs to incorporate the outcomes of the review.
The Independent Reviewer
The Victorian and Australian governments appointed Ms Leanne Wallace as the Independent Reviewer. Ms Wallace has over 30 years experience in the NSW public sector having held executive and senior management roles in nature conservation and natural resource management, forestry policy, health and human services policy, corporate services, workforce reform and information management. Ms Wallace has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons), a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Technology (Sydney), and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
As part of the review process, members of the public had an opportunity to comment on the Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).
A Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements
The submission period closed on Sunday 28 February 2010. The Independent Reviewer considered the Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) and all public submissions that were received by the Parties during the public consultation period in preparing her report.
The Independent Review on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 28 September 2010.
Independent Review on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian RFAs
Independent Review on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian RFAs (accessible version)
Completion of the five-yearly review of Victoria's RFAs
The Parties agreed to a joint government response to the recommendations made in the Independent Reviewer's report, and the Final Report on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). The release of these documents will marked the conclusion of the first and second five-yearly reviews of Victoria's RFAs.
The Joint Australian and Victorian Government Response to the Independent Review on Progress with Implementation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 16 April 2015.