21 Feb 2018
Climate change, industry certainty, and regulatory compliance are just a handful of the many topics discussed during the NSW Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) in-person consultation sessions over the past fortnight.
The 20-year agreements between the NSW and Australian Governments are currently undergoing a review and renewal process, which includes an opportunity to update and improve the content to capture emerging issues.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Group Director, Forestry, Nick Milham, said stakeholder feedback is imperative at this stage and views will help shape the renewed agreements.
“The consultation is a genuine chance to influence what form the NSW RFAs take for the sustainable management of our native forests for decades to come,” he said.
Mr Milham said the two governments have conducted in-person stakeholder meetings and public drop in sessions in Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Bulahdelah, Eden, Batemans Bay, Tumut and Sydney throughout February.
“In the sessions, we have heard from many environmental groups, industry members, local governments, the community and recreational forest users – providing a great insight into the key priorities and opinions of each group,” he said.
“Feedback, questions, criticisms and endorsements have been welcomed throughout the sessions and it has been great to hear the community’s views first-hand.
“The NSW Government has the difficult role of balancing the economic, social and environmental demands on forests, but there is sound logic, underpinned by peer-reviewed, internationally published science, to renew RFAs.
“The only decisions that have been made so far are that the RFAs will be renewed and that their objectives and geographical regions will remain unchanged – the rest is on the table.”
RFAs are an overarching framework for the long-term sustainable management of the NSW Forest Estate, and for the needs of industry and users. They reflect international and national commitments for the sustainable management of forests.
“RFAs seek to achieve a balance between ecological, social and economic forest values and require a series of more detailed frameworks to be put in place to achieve this balance,” Mr Milham said.
“These include a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative reserve system, a detailed regulatory framework covering the entire public and private forest estate, and industry certainty for timber supply and regulatory requirements.
“Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals, Forestry Codes of Practice and regulations and timber supply arrangements all sit underneath the overarching RFA framework and are the subject of separate review processes.”
Feedback captured at consultation sessions has been documented, and alongside the online submissions, will help shape the renewed agreements over the coming months.
“It’s not too late for stakeholders to have their say online, and we encourage those stakeholders yet to make a submission to strongly consider doing so,” Mr Milham said.
Submissions towards the renewal of the NSW Regional Forest Agreements can be made online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au, via email and via mail before 5pm on 12 March 2018.
Media contact: Lyndall Hilder (02) 6391 3686 or 0409 383 423