The following Sample Responses have been prepared by members of the FOE Forest Collective to assist forest lovers and activists to complete the Survey on Regional Forest Agreements which forms part of the consultation phase on the Modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements.
***UPDATE*** Your response must be completed by midnight Sunday, 7 July 2019.
Use the following Sample Responses to guide your completion of the survey (in your own words). Alternatively you may use the Sample survey responses prepared by the Wilderness Society.
Q 1. What changes have you seen in the RFA regions?
Sawmills closed, river and creek water levels down, plants and animals killed, local economies trashed, farmers worried.
Q 2. What should the Victorian RFAs aim to achieve over the next 20 years?
The RFAs should be allowed to lapse, to expire at the end of their current extended term, meaning a full transition away from native forest logging.
Q 3. What are the potential improvements you think should be made?
During transition, remove the RFA exemption from the Commonwealth Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), unique to the logging industry, to put it on the same basis as any other industry that could impact EPBC listed species.
Discontinue extraction of pulp logs from native forest in the transition period, referred to in RFAs as residual logs. This erroneously suggests such logs remain after a greater quantity has gone to sawlogs, but under the RFAs the amount of pulp logs has increased about seventy times beyond the 1937 residual amount (5000 cu.m.), and sawlogs are downgraded to meet pulp log quotas.
Meet the commitment for 350,000 cu.m./year pulp logs to Australian Paper until 30 June 2030 from sources outside native forest or else terminate the contract (if there is a problem with availability).
Q 4. How could the potential improvements in the consultation paper help modernise the Victorian RFAs?
Manage forests for conservation, water supply, tourism, other economic & social opportunities, and accept that wood production, export woodchipping and paper pulp have depleted our forest at unsustainable levels.
Any further development of the wood & paper products industry should use plantation sources, which will be more economically viable when not competing with a subsidised logging industry in public native forests.
Q 5. Do you have any views on which potential improvements are most important?
In the face of the current climate emergency, maintaining intact native forests as a carbon sink is the best course of action for the public estate.
Q 6. How do you use forests in your region?
I regularly visit the forest, bear witness to biodiversity loss, and I am saddened by the decline in numbers of threatened species.
Q 7. How could the RFAs better provide for multiple forest uses (i.e. recreation, conservation, livelihood and economy)?
By terminating the unsustainable native forest logging industry and lapsing the RFAs.
Q 8. What are your views on existing environmental protections afforded across the entire forest estate (including parks, reserves and State forests) through the RFAs?
Environmental protections are woefully inadequate, connectivity is lacking, limiting re-colonisation of Cool Temperate Rainforest and Cool Temperate Mixed Forest (both listed Threatened Communities in Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act) into areas where they previously occurred. With climate impacts increasing, the State Government has a duty of care to maintain forest integrity, especially in areas of Wet Sclerophyll forest containing Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), the tallest of all flowering trees.
Q 9. How could the environmental protections be improved?
As noted above, remove the RFA exemption from the EPBC Act, which is unique to the logging industry, like any other industry that could impact EPBC listed species.
Transition jobs away from public native forest, adopt longer rotations for trees in plantations for future timber supply, not just for paper.
Q 10. What opportunities could the RFAs provide to support access to and traditional use of forests by Traditional Owners and Aboriginal people?
Get logging out of native forests so there are still some values intact on country for traditional custodians.
Q 11. How could the RFAs enable the legal rights of Traditional Owners to partner in land management and seek economic and cultural opportunities to be realised in future forest management?
Create opportunities for first nation stakeholder groups to have custodianship restored within a multiple purpose reserve system.
Q 12. How could the RFAs consider climate change and other large-scale natural disturbances (including bushfires)?
Accept scientific reports linking logged forest areas (for timber and paper production) to dryer landscapes, loss of rainforest understorey species and consequently an increased fire-risk.
Regeneration burns after logging further add to this risk, and do not meet the same regulatory standards that are imposed on other industries for incineration of waste.
Restoration of Cool Temperate and Warm Temperate rainforest species reduces fire risk.
Q 13. How could the RFAs better address industry sustainability?
Ensure adequate funding for establishing plantations and manage for longer rotations so they can supply timber not just paper.
Q 14. How could the RFAs encourage investment and new market opportunities for forest-based industries (including the forests and wood products industry, tourism, apiary and emerging markets such as carbon)?
Carbon sequestration is the most important investment for the future, as it is critical to achieving emission reduction targets. Other viable uses and industries (water security, beekeeping, seed supply for plant nurseries) are compatible where forest is retained.
Supply of water from the de-salination plant is equal to the loss of catchment water yield after logging.
Q 15. How can the RFAs support the adaptive management of Victoria's forests in response to emerging issues (e.g. major bushfires) and opportunities (e.g. emerging industries)?
There should be no experimentation at the expense of threatened species habitat, under any guise. Ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM) is best evaluated away from public native forest, with plantations for timber & paper, using accounting & inventory systems realistic for a viable future resource.
Q 16. What areas of research would better equip us to sustainably manage Victoria's forests?
Current research shows that the forest has been managed unsustainably under the RFAs, and needs the opportunity to recover. This has resulted in increasing degradation of threatened species habitat, and diminished areas for species survival.
New research could investigate ways to best achieve a recovery of lost forest values so that further extinctions can be avoided: to restore the forest to its former condition will take hundreds of years.
Q 17. How could RFA monitoring, review (including five-yearly reviews) and reporting arrangements be improved?
The RFA process to date has failed on all reporting milestones.
There has been a culture of forest degradation, and there is no point in continuation of this trend.
When the Victorian RFAs expire, they should be allowed to lapse, and transition to new industry goals in the plantation sector implemented.
Please respond to the RFA Survey here.
USEFUL BACKGROUND INFORMATION
- VIDEO EXPLAINER: What is a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA)? by Margaret Blakers (produced by the Tarkine Association Victoria)
- Environment NGO’s input into the RFA’s: A number of ‘round table’ discussions were held with key industry stakeholders: read the Participant summary notes of the Environment NGOs.
- Sample Survey Responses produced by The Wilderness Society (TWS).
- Factsheet: RFAs have failed to meet their core objectives, produced by the Wilderness Society.
- Factsheet: Forests, Carbon and Climate in Victoria: our old forests are carbon sinks
- Factsheet: Nippon Paper Industries and the Wood Pulp Agreement