NSW Regional Forest Agreements

Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are bilateral agreements between the Australian Government and four state governments, and are given statutory effect under the Commonwealth Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002 (RFA Act). They are long-term agreements that provide for the sustainable management and conservation of Australia’s native forests.

There are three RFAs in NSW: Eden, North East, and Southern.

The RFAs seek to balance economic, social and environmental outcomes for forests by setting obligations and commitments for forest management that deliver:

  • certainty of resource access and supply to industry – building investment confidence
  • ecologically sustainable forest management – ensuring forests are appropriately managed and regenerated
  • an enhanced and permanent forest conservation estate – to provide for the protection of Australia’s unique forest biodiversity.

The RFAs provide a streamlined approach to satisfying Commonwealth legislative requirements for environmental planning and assessment and for conducting forestry operations to meet ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM) objectives.

The NSW RFAs are implemented through the State’s Forest Management Framework. Further information on the framework is provided in the Overview of the New South Wales Forest Management Framework (PDF, 1560.92 KB). This document describes the legislative and policy framework for forest management in NSW as at 2018.

For information on RFAs in Australia, and the comprehensive regional assessments that underpinned them, visit the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The NSW and Australian governments have completed work to improve and renew the three NSW RFAs. These agreements were set to expire over the coming years and they have now been revised and extended until 2039.

The NSW RFAs can be found below:

The renewed RFAs offer a modernised approach to forest management through strengthened commitments to ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM), streamlined outcomes-focused reporting and improved accountability. They:

  • continue the commitment to establish and maintain a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) reserve system
  • support ongoing commitment to the goals, objectives and implementation of the National Forest Policy Statement and implementing ESFM
  • align five-yearly reporting obligations between RFA regions and with other national forest reporting obligations
  • provide for a five-year rolling extension mechanism subject to satisfactory performance.

The variations to the NSW RFAs were formalised on 28 November 2018 following a comprehensive review of implementation progress, public consultation and an assessment of RFA values.

This independent review was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 25 June 2018 and made 16 recommendations to improve the delivery of the RFAs in NSW. A comprehensive response to the review is being prepared by the NSW and Australian governments, outlining how these recommendations will be addressed.

Sustainable Yield in NSW RFA regions (PDF, 3003.39 KB) meets the commitment in the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) to publicly release estimates of sustainable yield for public forests in RFA regions where timber harvesting is permitted.

Assessment of RFA values and the principles of ESFM

To support the decision to extend the NSW RFAs, the NSW and Australian governments undertook an Assessment of matters pertaining to renewal of Regional Forest Agreements. This document provides an assessment of trends in sustainability indicators in each of the NSW RFA regions.

The NSW and Australian Governments sought the views of all stakeholders on further improvements to the sustainable management of NSW forests and the extension of NSW RFAs for a further 20 years. Consultation included a public submissions process from 24 January to 12 March 2018, plus a series of stakeholder meetings and community drop-in sessions across the State throughout February 2018.

Public submissions

Stakeholders were encouraged to provide a written submission on the renewal of the RFAs. The submissions received informed issues identification, provided additional information and commentary, and were considered in the amendment of the RFAs.