Regional Forest Agreements have failed: review needed

Environment groups in NSW have welcomed NSW Labor’s commitment to no automatic rollover of Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) ‘until there is a proper independent scientific assessment of their outcomes, and the assumptions of the original RFAs are revisited’, and call on Shadow Environment Minister, Tony Burke, to match his State colleagues’ position.

In February, environment groups in NSW walked away from a sham RFA consultations process that saw the NSW and Federal Coalitions commit to new RFAs prior to any review or reassessment taking place.

National Parks Association (NPA) CEO Alix Goodwin said: ‘The RFAs have failed socially, environmentally and economically. The good news is that in the 20 years since the RFAs were signed, other options now exist for the management of public native forests that can benefit the environment and regional communities.

‘Tony Burke should match NSW Labor and commit to a process of assessing the RFAs before rollover.’

Respected north coast environmental activist spokesperson Dailan Pugh Photo Sharon Shostak

Dailan Pugh OAM, spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance, said: ‘Polling in northern NSW has shown that 90 per cent of people want public native forests protected for wildlife, water, carbon storage and recreation.

‘We commend NSW Labor for taking a policy position that offers the communities it aspires to represent the chance to be heard. Federal Labor should do the same.’

Heather Kenway, from the South East Region Conservation Alliance said: ‘The industry in southern NSW is facing a sharp decline in yields, meaning more forest has to be logged to maintain wood supply. It is running out of large sawlogs.

‘After 50 years of woodchipping it is time for major changes to forest management.’

Susie Russell, spokesperson for the North Coast Environment Council said: ‘On Monday we saw millers in Victoria say that they either need access to national parks and water catchments for timber or an exit package.

‘The lack of resource is the same in northern NSW, our catchments are already being damaged by logging and industry is seeking access to national parks here too.

‘Federal Labor must support a fully funded, genuine process and use the expiry of the RFAs to allow communities to choose the future for public native forests.’

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