Deferred Forest Area Report



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Consultation process


13. A State only Draft DFA Report was released initially for a three week period of public consultation. This period was extended to five weeks to ensure that all interested groups and individuals could make their submissions and to allow officials to fully consider all concerns raised during the consultations, prior to the revision of the DFA reports and the final decision. Over 500 submissions were received nationally, 82 from Western Australia. 

14. Western Australia also provided maps and information during the consultation period to key stakeholders. Joint Commonwealth and WA technical discussions and negotiations continued during the consultation period and key stakeholders were advised of joint outcomes toward the end of the process. 


Summary of Outcomes: Western Australia


15. The Commonwealth has concluded on the basis of the Deferred Forest Assessment report for Western Australia and the conclusions of the Scientific Advisory Group that, besides the minimum high priority identified areas needed to meet Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmarks identified in the Report, areas should be put aside to enable reserve selection and design issues to be fully considered in the development of a Regional Forest Agreement. The Commonwealth has concluded that this is best achieved by precluding logging in the National Estate over the period of the DFA. Accordingly, the Commonwealth has asked that these areas be deferred from harvesting for two years, or until an RFA is completed if that is earlier. 

Region


16. The DFA boundary in Western Australia is the area known as the south west forest region, covering the forest management regions of Swan, Central and Southern Forests. The assessments covered all tenures to determine the pre-1750 baseline distribution and current distribution but did not include private property for estimates of distribution of old growth forest. 

17. Forests cover some 2.1M hectares (0.1%) of Western Australia. Approximately 64% of the publicly owned native forest is managed for timber production. The balance is in a variety of nature conservation tenures. 


Biodiversity


18. The Commonwealth proposed several biodiversity criteria in its reserve criteria, one of which was a broad quantitative benchmark that of the order of 15% or more (depending on individual circumstances including extent and the level of threat) of the pre-European extent of each forest type should be protected in reserves. In the preparation of this report, the reservation level of two broad forest type groups - jarrah and karri - was assessed against estimates the pre-1750 distribution of these forest communities by Beard (1981) for jarrah and Bradshaw and Lush (1981) for karri. The jarrah forest was sub-divided into four sub-regions ie north and south of the Preston River, further split into high and low rainfall zones. 

19. Reservation levels of other forest types were not determined in the DFA because no pre-1750 mapping was available. The extent of harvesting of these types was assessed and it was concluded that the extent of harvesting was minimal and ensured that options for reservation would not be foreclosed pending finalisation of a RFA. 

20. The biodiversity assessments indicate that, of the harvested species, Western Australia retains approximately 72% of pre-1750 distribution (jarrah 71% and karri 82%). 

21. Both these broad forest types met the Commonwealth's benchmark of 15% overall reservation in formal reserves. The sub regional analysis showed that the area of jarrah forest in formal reserves was reasonably well represented across its geographic range, the lowest level of reservation being in the northern high rainfall zone. Following the recommendations of the Commonwealth Scientific Advisory Group, least reserved jarrah vegetation complexes in the north were assessed for extent of intersection with logging plans over the DFA period. Ninety four to one hundred per cent of these communities would be available for reserves if required at the conclusion of a RFA. 

22. An additional reservation analysis was conducted in the Southern Forest Region for four forest community types (karri, mixed karri, jarrah and mixed jarrah). All four communities were well represented in the formal reserve system across the region. 

Old growth forests


23. An assessment of old growth reservation was made for north and south jarrah forest types and karri forest type using the Commonwealth old growth criteria. 

24. In the southern region, some of the larger road, river and stream informal reserves were included in the old growth assessments. The Commonwealth Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) accredited these individual informal reserves where they demonstrated special significance such as linkages, fauna habitat, protection of communities or heterogeneity and added to the representativeness of the formal reserve system. The assessment of informal reserves will be refined in the light of additional information gathered during the CRA. 

25. In the southern region deficits of 1,080 ha of old growth karri and 28,190 hectares of old growth jarrah was identified in relation to the Commonwealth's 60% benchmark. Old growth sufficient to meet this deficit has been identified in a number of National Estate sub-areas. These sub areas would be incorporated in the Commonwealth's proposed area to be excluded from harvesting. They are identified in the mapping associated with this report and would form a high priority for further consideration for addition to formal reserves. These areas would enhance the representative distribution of reserved old growth in the southern forest. 

26. In the northern region, given past land use history, the only options for old growth reservation in meeting the Commonwealth's benchmark were the informal reserves with the exception of the narrow stream reserves. 

27. In the northern region, old growth jarrah is rare (5% of existing forest), hence at least 90% was required to meet Commonwealth benchmarks. 5,700 hectares of old growth jarrah was identified to meet the 90% minimum. This does not intersect with areas planned for logging in the short run. 

28. The 5,700 has been deferred pending finalisation of a RFA. 


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