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Media Release
Senator Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment
Senator Warwick Parer, Minister for Resources and Energy
Joint Media Release

Regional forests agreements and mining


17 December 1996
(DPIE96/1030)

The Federal Government has moved to ensure the conservation and protection of dedicated forest reserves while allowing, subject to stringent environmental requirements, exploration and mining in forest areas of lesser conservation value.

The Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Warwick Parer, released details of the decision today.

Cabinet endorsed a joint submission from Senator Hill and Senator Parer.

The Government has recognised that the primary objective of the comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) forest reserve system is to ensure the conservation and protection of environment and heritage values identified through the Regional Forest Agreement process. The National Forest Policy Statement commits governments to principally meeting that objective through dedicated reserves.

The Government has also recognised the contribution of the minerals industry to the national economy and the importance to the industry of ongoing access for minerals exploration.

The Government has therefore agreed that:

The Ministers emphasised that the Commonwealth is not advocating exploration or mining in existing reserves currently excluded from multiple use. Dedicated reserves are premised on the basis that the conservation values being protected are incompatible with exploration and mining.

The Commonwealth will seek to ensure a commitment from the States that land will only be able to be excised from a dedicated reserve for mining purposes with the agreement of both Commonwealth and State Governments and provided that areas of equivalent conservation value are attached to the reserve system.

The Ministers said that the specified conservation values for which new areas are added to the CAR reserve system will be maintained through State reserve tenures and management regimes. The appropriate State tenures to meet these CAR obligations will be determined between the Commonwealth and the relevant State.

They said that the approach adopted in Cabinet's decision was consistent with the JANIS nationally agreed reserve criteria.

FURTHER INFORMATION:
Matt Brown, 0419 693 515
Bob Baudino, 0419 438 818

Commonwealth of Australia