The Victorian Government has announced that the East Gippsland, Central Highlands and North East RFAs will be extended until 2020, when the West Victoria RFA and Gippsland RFAs are due to expire.
Immediate protection will be given to approximately 2,500 hectares of high environmental-value forest in and around the Kuark Forest, and all large, old trees greater than two-and-a-half metres in diameter will be protected across Victoria.
A program of landscape, and pre-harvest surveys will also be introduced, to provide greater certainty to VicForests and improve the management and protection of threatened species in timber harvesting coupes.
Victoria’s RFAs were developed in the 1990s. Documents obtained by the ABC show that a deal has been done between the Commonwealth and some states to "modernise" RFAs by rolling over existing agreements. The documents state that the processes involved in undertaking new comprehensive regional assessments are "too costly".
However, the Victorian Government has announced it will now "engage with Victorian communities – including Traditional Owners and industry – to ensure the next set of RFAs provide for the long-term sustainable management of Victoria’s forests".
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the RFAs are more than 20 years old, and “don’t reflect modern forest science or the needs of local communities – that’s why it’s so important to modernise these agreements and get them right.”