Deferred Forest Area Report



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Deferred Forest Area Report


  • Foreword

  • Executive Summary

  • Background to Deferred Forest Assessment

  • Outcome of DFAs

  • References

  • Bibliography

  • Appendix 1: Vesting, Tenure and Purpose of Land Managed by CALM

  • Appendix 2: The conservation of threatened species

  • Appendix 3: Morington Region Social Impact Case Study

  • Appendix 4: Forest Industries Structural Adjustment Package

  • Appendix 5: List of Individuals and Organisations involved in Public Comment

  • Tables

  • Part 1: Taxa that are endangered

  • Part 2: Taxa that are vulnerable


Foreword

This Deferred Forest Report is substantially base on a report jointly by Officers of the Commonwealth Forests Task Force and Western Australian officials. It is released following consideration by the Commonwealth Cabinet of its position in relation to Deferred Forest Agreements and Scoping Agreements for Regional Forest Agreements, to provide factual and analytical background to those decisions. Because it was necessary for the Commonwealth to make its position known to Western Australia and the community on these matters, and to allow a reasonable time for Western Australia to make its decisions in response to the Commonwealth position, this report has not been considered and approved by the Western Australian Cabinet. Accordingly, any view or prospective policy, as distinct from existing policy, that is attributed to Western Australia, is subject to any necessary consideration and approval by Western Australia, and the conclusions of this report cannot be considered necessarily to reflect the views of Western Australia. The Commonwealth thanks Western Australia for the co-operation of its Officers in the preparation of the report, and the considerable resources of time, money, professional expertise and information that it has made available. 

The Report has also benefited immeasurably from the input of those in the community who responded during the consultation period. This has enabled amendments to the draft report, and has provided guidance to officials as they have explained the studies that they undertook. 

Finally, the Commonwealth wishes to record its appreciation of the Scientific Advisory Group appointed by the Chief Scientist, Professor Michael Pitman OBE which provided advice on a number of issues.



Executive Summary

Deferred Forest Assessment process


1. The National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) sets out broad conservation and industry goals for the management of Australia's forests agreed between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. 

2. Under the NFPS, Governments agreed to a framework and process for carrying out comprehensive assessments of the economic, social, environmental and heritage values of forest regions. Once completed, Comprehensive Regional Assessments (CRAs) will provide governments with the information required to make long-term decisions about forest use and management. It will be possible to complete a national comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) reserve system which will safeguard biodiversity, old growth, wilderness and other natural and cultural values of forests. At the same time it will be possible to identify the optimal use and management of areas outside the reserve system. 

3. The Commonwealth and Western Australian governments have commenced the process to enable them to negotiate an agreement setting out their obligations in relation to each forest region - a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). Such an Agreement would give industries the certainty necessary to make the investment decisions which will underpin sustainable industry development, besides providing a firm basis for the management of conservation through CAR reserves and complementary off-reserve management. 

4. In March 1995, the Commonwealth Government proposed a strategy to provide interim protection for high conservation value forests in the period pending the finalisation of Regional Forest Agreements (between two and five years, depending on the region), as well as releasing draft Commonwealth criteria for CAR reserves. Following public comment final proposed Commonwealth criteria were released in July 1995. 

5. Deferred Forest Assessments have been undertaken to assess current levels of reservation of old growth, biodiversity and wilderness values and to identify additional forest areas that may be required for a CAR reserve system ('deferred forest areas'). Careful consideration was also given to the preservation of reserve design options and the impact on National Estate listed areas. 

6. The Deferred Forest Areas (DFAs) identified in this report are those that the Commonwealth believes should be set aside to enable a CAR reserve system to be developed through the DFA. Future reserve options will not be foreclosed if the State agrees to the Commonwealth's proposals. 

7. A Deferred Forest Agreement will set out the key obligations of the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments for management of and access to deferred forest and wood production areas. The agreements will also incorporate a mechanism for review of the designation of the areas if this is necessary due to exceptional circumstances. 

Criteria for determining interim protection


8. A key element of each RFA will be the establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) forest reserve system. While national reserve criteria have yet to be agreed between the States and Commonwealth Governments, the Commonwealth has developed criteria which were used for the Deferred Forest Assessment process. Using these criteria, the Commonwealth aimed to ensure that sufficient suitable areas were set aside as DFAs to enable the following indicative national benchmarks to be met in CAR reserves through the RFA: 

(i) a broad benchmark of 15% of the pre-1750 distribution of each forest community to be protected within the reserve system; 

(ii) retention in reserves of at least 60% of existing old growth, increasing up to at least 90% and where practicable 100% for rare old growth; and 

(iii) protection of 90%, or more wherever practicable, of high quality wilderness which meets minimum size thresholds. 

9. In nominating areas to be set aside from logging in the DFA, the Commonwealth has aimed to ensure that it will be possible to develop well designed and integrated reserves, through the ensuing RFA process. This means that more areas are required to be set aside at this stage than would be necessary simply to meet minimum quantitative criteria. 

10. Where appropriate the role of 'off-reserve management' in meeting conservation objectives was recognised and taken into account. 

11. The Deferred Forest Assessment process sought to maximise the protection of national estate values, threatened and rare species and the extent to which forest communities were represented across their geographic range ('representativeness'). 

12. The Deferred Forest Assessment process also sought to maximise conservation values while minimising the economic and social costs. 


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