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Senator Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment
John Anderson, Minister for Primary Industries and Energy
Marie Tehan, Victorian Minister for Conservation and Land Management
Joint Media Release
23 August 1996
Australia has moved a step closer to implementing the first of a series of Regional Forest Agreements with today’s release of detailed assessments of the values and uses of East Gippsland forests.
In a joint statement, the Federal Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, and the Victorian Minister for Conservation and Land Management, Marie Tehan, said the reports 'were a significant milestone in the development of a Regional Forest Agreement for East Gippsland and clear evidence of the commitment of both Governments to the Regional Forest Agreement process as a whole'.
Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) will protect native forests for future generations while maintaining ecologically sustainable wood production for the further development of the native forests based value-adding industries.
Since the National Forest Policy Statement was developed in 1992, two agreements have been signed by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments - the Interim Forest Agreement and a Scoping Agreement - which provide the basis for negotiating RFAs. Both were signed last January.
Since then work has continued between the Commonwealth and State on the preparation of the Regional Forest Agreement for East Gippsland.
Today's release of the Comprehensive Regional Assessment reports for East Gippsland represents significant progress towards the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments achieving a Regional Forest Agreement for the region.
The East Gippsland agreement will be the first for Australia.
Mrs Tehan, Senator Hill and Mr Anderson said today that the
assessment reports 'provide the information that will help define the options for the forest areas that should be protected in a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative reserve system and those that would be available for ecologically sustainable commercial use. The assessment reports cover important matters such as forest biodiversity, threatened species, wilderness, and heritage and social issues'.
'Wide community consultations will continue with the release of the assessment reports and build on those already conducted in recent times in East Gippsland'.
RFAs are a key element of the National Forest Policy Statement. Last month the Commonwealth announced that an additional $48 million would be made available over the next three years to expedite completion of the process across Australia.
The Commonwealth funding complements the significant resources that Victoria has already committed to establish and build on an already extensive knowledge base for the East Gippsland forests.
The Ministers acknowledged that it is still a challenging task to finalise the RFA in the next few months but stressed that 'the people of East Gippsland and groups within that community have the opportunity to help put in place a forest agreement that will not only benefit the region but set an example for the rest of Australia'.
Contacts: Matt Brown (Senator Hill's office) Ph: (06) 2777640
Robert Haynes (Mr Anderson's office) Ph: (06) 2777520
Nicole Cantrell (Mrs Tehan's office) Ph: (03) 9651 5799