The sustainable management of Western Australia’s precious forests has been given an overwhelming pass mark in an independent review of the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) for the south-west region of the state.
“We’re striking the right balance between the needs of the environment and providing a secure resource for the forestry industry and the regional communities which rely on it,” Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, said.
“The independent review examined a number of issues raised during public consultation while assessing the overall performance of the RFA from 2009–14.
“The review by Graham Wilkinson, tabled in the Federal Parliament today, found both governments had met the great majority of their commitments under the RFA and made a number of recommendations.
“These included greater clarity and understanding around the role of non-reserve forests in the maintenance of biodiversity in WA, and improving engagement with stakeholders in the RFA process.”
WA Minister for Environment, Stephen Dawson, said the review confirmed the RFA provided a “sound framework”.
“The independent review has been an important – and integral – step in the process to extend the RFA, which has provided a sound framework for the sustainable management of forests in the south-west of WA,” Minister Dawson said.
Both governments are considering the review’s recommendations and preparing a joint response.
To read the report, and for more information on the WA RFA review, visit: agriculture.gov.au/forestry/policies/rfa/regions/wa.
- The WA RFA was signed in May 1999
- The WA RFA covers approximately 2.37 million hectares of native forests
- $1.1 billion in sales and service income was generated by the sector in 2014-15
- In the RFA area:
- 52 per cent of public land (1.29 million hectares) is in conservation reserves
- 21,884 hectares were added to the reserve system between 2009 and 2014
- Less than one per cent of the native forest is harvested annually
- The independent reviewer concluded that:
- ‘Commitments in the WA RFA relating to threatened flora and fauna were achieved’
- ‘Timber harvesting operations are conducted in a manner that contributed to the maintenance of biodiversity value’
- ‘WA has a comprehensive system in place to take account of the competing demands of the forest estate’