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Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, Robert Hill
Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson
Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Cheryl Edwardes
25 May 1998
Federal Environment Minister, Robert Hill, Federal Primary Industries and Energy Minister, John Anderson, and Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Cheryl Edwardes, today welcomed the release of a joint WA-Commonwealth paper, "Towards a Regional Forest Agreement".
The public consultation paper outlines a range of approaches to a long term Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) between WA and the Commonwealth, and its release marks the beginning of the final phase in its development.
The public consultation paper draws on the results of nearly 40 scientific projects to assess the full range of forest uses and values - environmental, heritage, social and economic. Further work will be conducted during the public comment period to refine economic, social and environmental data based on comments received from the public and information collected during this period.
The Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of both governments to an agreement which both supports regional employment and industry development, and protects the region's important environment and conservation values.
They encouraged all Western Australians interested in the State's native forests to read and comment on the paper during the consultation period, which ends on 10 July 1998. Open Days will be held throughout the South-West in the first two weeks of June, where people can discuss the paper, the results of the comprehensive regional assessment, ask questions about the RFA and have their comments recorded.
"The RFA will provide certainty - not only for the environment, but also for forest-based industries, and for the region as a whole," Mr Anderson said.
Senator Hill said the RFA would aim to meet the nationally agreed criteria for environmental values such as biodiversity, old-growth forest and wilderness.
"It will ensure that the forests of the South-West are maintained for future generations with ecologically sustainable management of the whole native forest estate, both within and outside conservation reserves," he said.
"We now have more detailed scientific information than ever before to help manage our unique forest resource," Mrs Edwardes said. "That information is widely available and I encourgage everyone to read this before submitting their views on how our forests should be managed."
The Ministers said that the paper showed the complexity of the issues involved in developing an RFA and stressed that the approaches outlined in the report are by no means exhaustive, but were designed to promote discussion and feedback. The final RFA may lead to results which are a mixture of different approaches or which lie outside the ranges explored in the paper.
"The report should not be seen as predetermining the outcome of the RFA process," they said.
"Governments will consider comments received during the public consultation period before negotiating the final RFA."
The subsequent RFA will decide the future of the region's forests for the next 20 years, with provision for five-yearly reviews.
Matt Brown (Senator Hill's Office): 02 6277 7640
Robert Haynes (Mr Anderson's Office): 02 6277 7520
Nicole Trigwell (Mrs Edwardes' Office): 08 9421 7777
"Towards A Regional Forest Agreement for the South-West Forest Region of Western Australia: A paper for public consultation" can be viewed on the World Wide Web: http://www.rfa.gov.au or http://www.calm.wa.gov.au