The analysis of pre-1750 distribution of jarrah forest estimates (tables) (Table 2) that 71% of pre-1750 jarrah forest remains. That is, 29% has been cleared since European settlement.
The area in formal reserves meets both the Commonwealth's (15%) and the JANIS (10%) reservation benchmarks.
The analysis of pre-1750 distribution estimates that 82% of pre-1750 karri forest (tables) (Table 3) remains. That is 18% has been cleared since European settlement.
The area in formal reserves meets both the Commonwealth's (15%) and the JANIS (10%) reservation benchmarks. In addition, there are large areas in the informal reserve system. There is, however, no need to consider informal reserves for the pre-1750 analysis. On this analysis no forest areas need to be deferred from timber harvesting so as not to foreclose options for a future CAR reserve system.
5.3.2 Sub Regional Analysis - Jarrah Forest
Due to the broad geographic extent of the jarrah forest type it was considered desirable to undertake a sub-regional analysis (tables) (Table 4) to check whether the reserves in the jarrah forest adequately covered the geographic range and environmental gradients within the region.
Many authors have described the influence of climate, landforms and soils in determining the distribution of plant communities in the south-west forest area (Diels, 1906; Havel, 1968; Christensen, 1992). Rainfall is the most obvious east-west climatic gradient to utilise for this purpose. The evaporation gradient which operates in a north-south context is another primary influence on forest vegetation.
The 1000 mm rainfall isohyet was used to segregate high and low rainfall strata. The Preston River, with an eastward extension, was used to segregate the north-south evaporation gradient.
The area of jarrah forest in the formal reserve system in three of the sub-regions of the jarrah forest is above 10% demonstrating a reasonable spread of reservation across the geographic extent of jarrah forest types. The formal reservation level in the high rainfall northern jarrah is less than other regions although extensive informal reserves increase the level of protection.
For the high rainfall northern jarrah sub-region, the spread of formal reserves appears to cover the geographic range in that region. Informal reserves provide a practicable method of protecting additional areas within this sub-region. Informal reserves on 4th order and higher order streams (150400m wide) are estimated to comprise at least 40 per cent of the total area of Informal reserves in this sub region (based on data for the Southern Forest Region).
5.3.3 Forest Community Analysis - Southern Forest Region
In order to check that particular forest communities are adequately distributed in reserves across the region, a forest community analysis was considered desirable where data was available. The FMIS dataset was used to define four forest community types: jarrah, mixed jarrah, karri and mixed karri. This analysis could only be conducted for the southern Forest Region (tables) (Table 5). No equivalent data is available for the Central Forest and Swan Regions.
Since the analysis tabulated below is based on the present distribution of forest communities, for which there are no maps of pre-1750 distribution, the estimated benchmark for reservation was based on the extent of clearing of the broad forest types estimated in the pre-1750 analysis (Section 188.8.131.52 & 184.108.40.206) (refer to page 14 of the Commonwealth Reserves Criteria Paper).
Some 18 per cent of the karri forest is cleared, equating to a Commonwealth benchmark of 18 per cent of existing forest for the two karri forest community types. Some 28 per cent of the jarrah forest in the Southern Forest Region is cleared, equating to a Commonwealth benchmark of 22 per cent of existing forest for the two jarrah forest community types.
The current distribution shows that each of the forest communities in the Southern Forest Region are very well represented in the formal reserve system and that the area of each forest community exceeds the Commonwealth benchmark. There are also very large areas within informal reserves. No forest areas need to be deferred from timber harvesting so as not to foreclose options for a future CAR reserve system.
5.3.4 Vegetations Complexes With Less than 10% Representation in the Formal Reserve System
The issue of forest type disaggregation was referred to the Scientific Advisory Group. The SAG concluded that in the establishment of the DFAs, the precautionary principle should be paramount and should ensure that no poorly reserved forest communities are planned for logging during the Deferred Forest Assessment period.
The SAG also concluded:
'It is that it is unlikely that a more appropriate forest classification could have been used (for Western Australia) in the Deferred Forest Assessment timeframe. The SAG considers that disaggregation of types along the lines of a Havel classification needs to be addressed in the RFA process, but that this option was not realistic in the Deferred Forest Assessment timeframe. There appear to be no alternative interim measures that could be applied while the RFA studies are underway. A precautionary step would be to ensure that no poorly reserved forest communities are planned for logging during the DFA period. The application of the 15% rule should be used for all sub-regions in the DFA process to avoid the possibility of foreclosing options during the RFA process. Where the Commonwealth has agreed with the State to use a 10% basis to assess reservation levels within the broad geographic regions encompassed by the forest type, while maintaining the 15% level for the type as a whole then the precautionary step to avoid foreclosing on representativeness during the DFA would be to assess the logging plans to ensure that the level of logging would not foreclose options for further reservation of poorly represented communities as identified by Havel.'
The advice to maintain 15% in sub-regions as well as in the forest type as a whole takes a precautionary approach to representativeness because it is known that the broad sub-regions contain a number of forest communities (as identified by Havel) that can be mapped at the appropriate scale.
CALMs' Forest Management Plan for 1994-2003 identifies a number of vegetation complexes which have less than 10% representation in the formal reserve system. The 1996 logging plan has been checked for the occurrence of logging in these vegetation complexes. Logging in 1996 is planned to occur in three of these vegetation complexes, namely Dwellingup, Lowden and Yarragil (minimum swamps). Ninety four per cent of the distribution of the Dwellingup (H) complex will not be logged in 1996, ninety six per cent of the Lowden complex, and ninety five per cent of the Yarragil (minimum swamps) complex will not be logged in 1996.
There are no significant foreclosure of options for these vegetation complexes to be included to a greater extent in a future reserve system, if necessary.
6. OLD-GROWTH FOREST
The Commonwealth approach to old growth is based on the National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) definition. The Commonwealth supports a regional approach to the development of old-growth methodologies and has endorsed the methodologies developed in Victoria by Woodgate et al (1994) as being one appropriate way to operationalise the NFPS definition for the DFA assessments. The definition of old-growth and its application to identifying old growth areas will be reconsidered during the CRA process and the RFA.
6.1 Commonwealth criteria
The National Forest Policy Statement (1992) defines old growth forest as:
'Forest that is ecologically mature (the upper stratum or overstorey is in the late mature to over-mature growth phases) and has been subjected to negligible unnatural disturbance such as logging, roading and clearing.'
The Commonwealth's position paper describes a sliding scale for old growth reservation with the level required dependent on the percentage of the existing area of each forest community that is old growth. This sliding scale was used for the interim reservation of old growth under the Deferred Forest Assessment process.
6.1.1 Old-growth Criteria for Widespread Forest Types
The Commonwealth also recognises that the rarity or abundance of old growth may also need to be established in absolute terms, based on the remaining area of the forest type as a whole.
'In the case of a forest type that is still relatively widespread and retaining large contiguous areas of old growth, for example, a somewhat lesser amount than that calculated from strict application of the linear scale, may prove adequate.' (p19)
Western Australia's position for the Deferred Forest Assessment is that the southern jarrah forest is relatively widespread and retains large contiguous areas of old growth, therefore jarrah old growth should be protected at the percentage levels prescribed in the Commonwealth Reserves Criteria Paper less 10 per cent. This issue was referred to the SAG. The SAG concluded,
'The Group accepts that jarrah is a widespread species and is the dominant or codominant canopy species in the old growth areas under consideration. The Group agrees that the extensive nature of jarrah would warrant consideration under the flexibility criteria for old growth reservation benchmarks. However, the Group agreed that it would need to be satisfied either that the broad jarrah forest type is relatively homogenous in terms of structural and floristic diversity or, if the forest type is heterogeneous, that this heterogeneity is well sampled in the existing reserve system. The SAG considered that the information available was insufficient to disaggregate sub-units that might better reflect the biodiversity of the jarrah forest'.
The SAG was unable to come to any conclusion either way on the basis of the available information and more information was required to properly consider the issue. The old growth jarrah benchmark is an issue that will be reconsidered in the preparation of a RFA.
Western Australia disagrees with this assessment but has agreed to apply the Commonwealth's criteria on old growth on a no prejudice basis for the purposes of the Deferred Forest Assessment.
6.2 Methods and data sets
6.2.1 Availability of Maps and Data Sets
The approach taken by Woodgate et al. (1994) in East Gippsland, Victoria was examined to determine its suitability for application in the south west forests. The identification of old growth in that study relied on combining datasets for 'forest growth stage' and 'disturbance'.
There is no broadscale mapping of forest growth stages in Western Australian forests and no mapped datasets which could be used as a surrogate for growth stage. The only types of disturbance for which mapped datasets exist are agricultural clearing, timber harvesting and roading. Anecdotal and qualitative information exists for past grazing and mining. The methods employed for this assessment are consistent with, and build on, the previous joint work carried out by CALM and the AHC (CALM/AHC 1992).
Logging records are only available for CALM-managed land tenures and so the old growth analysis was restricted to this land base. The history of land allocation in the south west coupled with anecdotal information indicates that it is likely that very little old growth forest remains on other Crown land or private property.
The minimum patch size for old growth used in the following analyses is two hectares, which is the grid cell size used in the FMIS system. The data used is correct as at December 1993.
The area of old growth forest is dynamic. As the effects of past disturbance diminishes and as trees reach the mature and senescent growth stages, new areas of old growth will be recruited. Other areas will cease to be old growth forest due to the effects of wildfires, windstorms, timber harvest or other disturbances.
6.2.2 Definition of Jarrah and Karri Old-growth
Several options for defining jarrah old growth were considered, however given the limitations in disturbance data and difficulties in verification, options other than 'virgin' forest were discounted. 'Virgin' forest provides the best available surrogate for old growth forest, according to the NFPS definition, for the Deferred Forest Assessment.
Due to the absence of mapped data pertaining to tree age and the nature of past disturbance, especially timber harvest, in the karri forest, 'virgin' forest is the only suitable surrogate for old growth forest for the Deferred Forest Assessment.
6.2.3 Accreditation of Road, River and Stream reserves (Informal reserves)
Both the NFPS and its implementation group (JANIS) state that informal reserves contribute to the reserve system. The NFPS states:
'The nature conservation objectives are being pursued in three ways. First, parts of the public native forest estate will continue to be set aside in dedicated nature conservation reserve systems to protect native forest communities, based on the principles of comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness. The reserve system will safeguard endangered and vulnerable species and communities. Other areas of forest will also be protected to safeguard special areas and to provide links where possible between reserves or other protected areas. (NFPS 1992 p9)
For old growth forest protection the Commonwealth's Reserve Criteria paper states that at least 40 per cent of the protected old growth should be in dedicated conservation reserves, indicating that the balance (20-50 per cent) can be protected in informal reserves.
The Commonwealth and WA could not agree on the extent to which informal reserves would be accredited and it was agreed to refer the issue to the SAG.
Prior to the consultation period, the SAG found that the system of informal riparian and road reserves in Western Australia made a definite, though non-quantifiable, contribution to the protection of conservation values in the south-west forests but that significant questions remain as to the ability of linear reserves to maintain the full range of attributes present in these forests in perpetuity.
The SAG recommended that a step-wise application of decision rules should govern the acceptance of linear areas as meeting CAR principles. As a precautionary measure, the SAG recommended that a buffer be added to the outer margins of all linear reserves considered for inclusion in CAR reservation benchmarks during the period of the Deferred Forest Assessment.
The Commonwealth's concern in relation primarily to edge effects has led to a deduction of the area of narrow linear reserves (60 metre wide 1st, 2nd and 3rd order riparian reserves and 200 metre wide road reserves) from the total area of formal and informal reserves.
The Commonwealth was prepared to adopt the SAG advice and accredit old growth forest within the larger riparian and road reserves provided that CALM could demonstrate that they provided 'special significance' for representativeness. CALM subsequently provided detailed documentation on a number of these larger linear reserves.
The SAG undertook an investigation of the larger riparian and road reserves that CALM had nominated for their contribution to special significance . They concluded that portions of these reserves were likely to contribute to a CAR-based reserve system. For the Deferred Forest Assessment, the SAG accredited, partially accredited or conditionally accredited all of the large riparian reserves in the southern region of WA. Four of the large riparian reserves were accredited or conditionally accredited in the Central region. Sixteen of the 25 road reserves were accredited, partially accredited or conditionally accredited in the southern region of WA.
A deduction of 25 per cent of the area of 400 metre wide road reserves for karri and 15 per cent for jarrah for internal edge effects has also been made. The area of old growth forest which contributes towards meeting the benchmarks is therefore the sum of the area of old growth within formal reserves plus the area of old growth within 'DFA accredited informal reserves'. The area of 'DFA accredited informal reserve' is calculated from the total informal reserves minus the deductions outlined above. The resulting area has been termed the accredited reserve area.
Western Australia does not agree with the findings of the Scientific Group and this issue will be further considered in the RFA.
Western Australian Scientific Panel
The Western Australian Government established a Scientific Panel to review the issue of the contribution of the larger riparian and road reserves to a CAR reserve system.
This Panel concluded that the conservation reserve system identified and proposed by the Western Australian Government, which includes a mixture of formal and informal reserves, meets the defined Commonwealth criteria in full. It further concluded that the larger riparian and road reserves clearly provide special significance and representativeness to the total reserve system in the forests of Western Australia.
The Panel also recommended that the retention of the total informal reserve system is a necessary requirement for the preservation of mature forest attributes in Western Australian forests. In relation to possible negative impacts of edges on linear reserves, the Panel was of the opinion that the Commonwealth position is vastly overweighted for the Western Australian situation and there is no justification for the buffering or discounting that the Commonwealth sought.
Notwithstanding the different positions of Western Australia and the Commonwealth this report presents the old growth data in the format the Commonwealth have requested, and interim protection arrangements are proposed below to satisfy the Commonwealth position.
CALM has undertaken to ensure that timber harvest will not foreclose options for wider informal reserves during the period of development of the Regional Forest Agreement.
This issue of the contribution towards benchmarks and the configuration of informal reserves will be reconsidered in the development of a RFA.
6.3.1 Analysis of Old-growth Karri Forest
The analysis (tables) (Table 6) indicates that an additional 1 080 ha of old growth karri forest is required to meet the Commonwealth 60 per cent benchmark. The arrangements for interim protection of additional karri old growth areas is described in section 10.1.
6.3.2 Analysis of Old-growth Jarrah Forest
The distribution of jarrah old growth is significantly different in the northern jarrah forest compared to the southern jarrah forest due to the historical pattern and progression of timber harvest. Hence old growth is rare in the northern jarrah forest and relatively common in the south. For this reason the jarrah old growth assessment was divided into northern and southern, with the Preston River dividing the two regions (tables) (Table 7).
In the northern forest at least 5 760 hectares of old growth jarrah would be required for additional protection to meet the minimum of 90 per cent protection for rare old growth. The practicability of reserving close to 100 per cent of the northern jarrah old growth was explored. The options for rescheduling were investigated. CALM forest managers advised that no other areas within a reasonable transport distance had had sufficient pre logging preparation to provide alternative resource. The economic and social impacts of removing access to the resource were assessed (see Section 10) to inform the decision on the practicability of greater than 90 per cent protection.
In the southern forest 28 190 hectares of old growth jarrah is required to meet the Commonwealth 60 per cent benchmarks. The arrangements for interim protection of additional jarrah old growth areas are described the area is described in Section 11.1.
6.3.3 Identifying Deferred Forests Areas for Old-growth
An additional 28 190 ha of jarrah and 1080 ha of karri old growth were required in order that the Commonwealth CAR benchmarks were met. The Commonwealth's position paper on Deferred Forest Assessments (April 1995) recommended maximising inclusion of National Estate places when considering options for the interim protection of forests. With this in mind national estate places, (containing the national estate value "B1 undisturbed forest and woodland") and jarrah or karri old growth as identified on the FMIS were examined for suitability for addition to a possible CAR reserve system.
The total area of old growth jarrah and karri in these national estate places in the southern forest is considerably greater than the area required to meet the benchmarks. The decisions on the subset of the National Estate places to include as DFAs were made with the aim of adding to the representativeness of the existing reserve system on the basis of representativeness and reserve design principles outlined in the Commonwealth reserve criteria position paper (p26), and known variation in the jarrah and karri old growth.
Criteria included increasing the geographic coverage of old growth representation, improving links between existing reserves, enhancing the contiguity of old growth representation and increasing old growth representation where old growth was locally rare.
In choosing the final set of DFAs, consideration was given to the extent of pre logging activities, including roading, that had already been undertaken in the National Estate sub areas. Areas that had a higher rescheduling cost as a consequence of the pre logging activities already undertaken were avoided if the exclusion of these areas did not compromise the environmental objectives of the assessment outcomes.
Eighty per cent of old growth in the northern jarrah forest is protected in formal and informal reserves. This is below the Commonwealth benchmark of 90 percent protection of old growth, and necessitated an area of at least 5 760 ha of old growth jarrah forest to be deferred from timber harvesting in 1996 and 1997. Due to the scarcity of old growth in upland locations in the northern jarrah forest, deferred forest areas were chosen to achieve a wide distribution of remaining upland old growth forest.
The following tables list the areas chosen to meet the old growth benchmarks for jarrah and karri.
The areas that would need to be deferred in the northern forest to meet the 90 per cent benchmark are shown in the maps accompanying this report.
6.3 5 Conclusions
The results of the old growth assessment showed that a total of 35 030 hectares of old growth in the south west forests would need to be deferred pending finalisation of the RFA. National Estate sub areas comprising 28,390 ha of jarrah old growth and 1210 ha of karri have been identified as DFAs in the southern forest region. A minimum 5 760 ha of old growth jarrah would need to be deferred from harvesting in the northern forest region.
In addition to the DFAs identified for karri old-growth there will be little foreclosure of options by timber harvesting in old growth forest in relation to the available area pending finalisation of a RFA. About 98 per cent of the old growth karri forest will still be available for a future reserve system, if necessary, after the next two years.
The total area of old growth karri forest is 83 500 hectares.
All informal reserves are shown. None are available for timber harvesting. (Graph 1)
In addition to the DFAs identified for jarrah old growth there will be little foreclosure of options by proposed timber harvest in old growth jarrah forest in relation to the available area, pending finalisation of a RFA. About 98 per cent in the southern forests and 94 per cent in the northern region of the total area of old growth jarrah forest will still be available for a future reserve system, if necessary, after the next two years.
The total area of old growth southern jarrah forest is 281 890 hectares.
All informal reserves shown. None are available for harvesting. (Graph 2)
The total area of old growth Northern Jarrah forest is 41 190 hectares.
All informal reserves shown. None are available for timber harvesting. (Graph 3)
The definition of old growth was a key issue raised during the consultation period and will need to be considered further for the RFA.
Submitters have argued that selection cut forests should also be included in the old growth definition.
The extent that selection cut forests may be included in the old growth definition is one of several issues that will need to be considered in choosing an appropriate old growth definition for different forest types. Other matters include disturbances other than timber harvesting that may change the character of old growth .
Without pre-judging the outcomes of a review of the definition of old growth the level of foreclosure of reserve options by harvesting lightly logged forest has been assessed.
In jarrah and karri forests, stands that have been harvested with gaps less than one hectare could be considered to be lightly harvested. These stands have been mapped and quantified (Bradshaw in prep.).
It is estimated that 35 400 hectares of karri forest, previously selection cut, exists in all CALM management tenures. The level of foreclosure of forests in this structural condition is approximately 700 hectares per annum. Ninety eight per cent of the lightly selection cut karri forest will be available for attainment of Commonwealth Reserve Criteria at the conclusion of the RFA.
An estimate of lightly cut jarrah forests, based on forest structure is 550 000 hectares. The level of foreclosure of forest in this structural condition is approximately 5 000 hectares per annum. Ninety-nine per cent of the lightly selection cut jarrah forest will be available for attainment of Commonwealth Reserve Criteria at the conclusion of the RFA.
7.1 Commonwealth Criteria
The Australian Heritage Commission's National Wilderness Inventory (NWI) has been adopted as the national method for assessing wilderness values. Under the NWI, wilderness quality is calculated by assigning values to land against the following factors:
remoteness from settlement
remoteness from access
These indicators are combined to develop an overall indicator of relative wilderness quality. The various indicators constitute a database which, when supplemented with specific purpose data, may be useful for diverse purposes such as identifying wilderness, using various size thresholds, assessing impacts of proposals (eg road construction) and forecasting effects of management measures (eg road closures, restoration).
7.2. Methods and Datasets
CALM applied the NWI model to the south-west forest region using CALM datasets for themes such as roads and disturbances. AHC officers checked the application of the model and coding of data.
Two processes for the assessment of wilderness quality were undertaken. The Commonwealth's preferred method was to apply a size threshold across all areas which were identified as having an NWI rating of 12 or more. CALM's preferred method was to apply a size threshold across areas which were identified using separate ratings thresholds for each of the four NWI components. This method was used to assess wilderness quality in East Gippsland and Central Highlands in Victoria in the joint studies undertaken by The Australian Heritage Commission and the Victorian Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. (AHC/CNR, 1994).
Initially, maps of NWI were produced using a one kilometre grid cell size. While this scale of data provided an overall view of the distribution of NWI 12 or greater wilderness, it was felt that a finer resolution was required in order to accurately identify wilderness areas. Further investigations using a grid size of 500 metres were therefore undertaken which enable wilderness areas to be assessed.
CALM's preferred size threshold was 10 000 hectares, while the Commonwealth preferred 8000 hectares. In undertaking the assessment of wilderness, both size thresholds were investigated. In addition, the separate NWI component threshold methodology preferred by CALM was also investigated. A sensitivity analysis using a range of thresholds for each indicator was undertaken to determine the effects of the thresholds on wilderness quality.
Applying the different methodologies allowed the separate analyses to inform the overall assessment of wilderness quality in the three regions.
Western Australia does not agree with the Commonwealth's criteria for wilderness reservation but has agreed to apply the Commonwealth's criteria on wilderness on a no prejudice basis for the purposes of the Deferred Forest Assessment.
The result of the applications of both CALM and the Commonwealth's preferred methodologies is that no wilderness areas were identified in the south west forests.
It was agreed that the final determination of thresholds will be undertaken in the RFA.
8.1 Consideration of the National Estate in the DFA
In addition to the Commonwealth reserve criteria (old growth, wilderness and biodiversity), national estate values include:
other natural values (eg natural processes, richness and diversity, scientific reference sites and geological and geomorphological sites); and,
cultural values (eg archaeological sites, art sites, buildings and other structures, sites of historic events, sites associated with prominent historical figures, places of values to their communities).
Harvesting operations will be excluded from national estate places in the southern forests for 1996. The Commonwealth has requested that WA extend this undertaking to the end of 1997 or until a RFA is completed whichever is sooner.
8.2 Adverse Effects on National Estate Values
The level of adverse effect of harvesting on national estate values, in a regional context, depends on such factors as:
intensity of harvesting proposed;
sensitivity of the particular values of the affected place; and,
level of regional protection of those values in reserves, protected areas and other protection mechanisms.
These adverse effects will, to a large extent, be minimised at the operational planning level and through locally appropriate protection mechanisms.
Where the national estate values covered by the Commonwealth reserve criteria are
adversely affected by a harvesting proposal but the Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmarks are achieved, the AHC considers that the effect is not likely to be regionally significant.
National estate values not covered by the Commonwealth reserve criteria will be protected to varying degrees over the life of the interim protection measures. Some values are protected coincidentally along with Commonwealth reserve criteria values. Within the context of the outcomes of the DFA process some are coincidentally protected across the region.
Where the Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmarks have been achieved, the AHC considers that the equivalent national estate values to be regionally protected.
8.3 AHC Statutory Advice
The AHC will provide advice on two Commonwealth decision-making processes:
consideration of the DFA reports and associated agreements; and,
consideration of woodchip export licences for 1996.
8.4 National Estate and CRA
The Commonwealth believes that a full analysis of national estate values should be undertaken in each forest region as an essential step in the development of a robust RFA.
The Commonwealth's reserve criteria paper specifies that, when considering options for the interim protection of forests, the inclusion of national estate places should be maximised.
To maximise the consideration of national estate values within the DFA, the use of national estate was seen as a method for ensuring that any areas of potential 'deficit' against Commonwealth criteria could be located in areas where additional reservation formed meaningful additions to existing reserves.
The method used for maximising the inclusion of national estate is detailed in the Section 6.3.3.
9. THREATENED SPECIES
Threatened Species that are known to occur in Western Australian forests and their habitats are managed as outlined in Appendix 2 These procedures address the requirements of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. These procedures include the preparation of recovery plans, and the recognition of forest practices and planning procedures which are in place.
A detailed report was released in October 1995 for public comment. It is at Appendix 2 of this report. Several issues been raised in the consultation period. These issues will be a high priority for early consideration in the RFA.
10. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ISSUES
10.1 Industry and Community Issues
10.1.1 Economic Impact Assessments
An assessment of economic values was conducted to determine possible economic and social impacts of protecting as close as possible 100 per cent of the remaining old growth forest in the Northern Region.
The area of old growth jarrah that would be required to reach 100 per cent protection is part of the Bell and Bednall forest blocks. The coupes in these forests contain an estimated 196 800 m3 of harvestable logs, with around 11 per cent of these being pulplogs. In terms of final product value, an estimated $31.5 million of timber products could be produced from the sawlog volumes based on the current product mix, while an estimated $2 million of woodchips could be produced from sawmill residues and pulplogs from these coupes. A further $5.9 million of other wood products could be produced from jarrah charcoal logs and other sawlog residues.
CALM have advised that 50 percent of logs from the identified areas would have been recovered in each of 1996 and 1997. It is expected that some rescheduling of harvesting operations to meet the pulplog volumes is possible, however, this would be likely to impose additional planning costs and roading operations.
The average annual volume of Jarrah sawlogs and veneer logs in the identified areas, however, is the equivalent of around 11 per cent of all jarrah harvested in 1994-95. CALM officers have indicated that rescheduling is not a possibility for the Bell and Bednall forest blocks areas over the period 1996 and 1997.
The first grade Jarrah sawlogs from the Bell and Bednall forest blocks area are scheduled for delivery to the Yarloop sawmill. Reduced supply of first grade sawlogs is expected to have a severe impact on the operation of this mill. CALM officers have indicated that such a reduction would represent a substantial reduction in throughput to this mill, and hence severely reduce its economic viability.
10.1.2 Community Impact Assessments
As part of the social impact assessment component of the DFA process, six regional case studies were undertaken in forestry regions across Australia. The studies found that a number of features characterised communities largely dependent on forest industry, including relatively low education and training levels, narrow employment experience and opportunities and low household income of workers, a high degree of community stability (eg limited mobility, dependent children and high home ownership) and the concentration of the communities in small rural townships. Due to their limited resources to make adjustments to their employment and lifestyles these individuals and communities would be highly vulnerable to changes in resource access and industry structure that may result from the DFAs and RFAs. There is evidence that stress was emerging in some communities as a result of past forest use decisions and uncertainty and insecurity over future employment.
Forest communities are often concentrated in small rural townships, and services are likely to come under pressure if any significant population decline occurs. Education and health services are seen as particularly vulnerable.
Communities most vulnerable are those with a relatively low degree of economic diversity, where many small contractors, logging companies and direct suppliers to the forestry industry are directly dependant, while small retail, wholesale and service businesses are reliant upon the forest industry for a large proportion of their income.
Many of these features are typified by the township of Yarloop, in the Mornington Region of Western Australia. A detailed summary of the Yarloop social impact case study is in Appendix 3.
The township of Yarloop is characterised by a relatively narrow economic base and is largely reliant on the timber industry for its economic activity and most individuals are involved in the industry in some way. The Yarloop sawmill provides direct employment for 91 people and is the largest employer in the town. Employees of Alcoa also reside within the town and this accounts for 7.3% of the town's employment being based in the mining sector.
The community assessment indicates that the Yarloop township would be significantly affected by any cutbacks to logging coupes in the Mornington Area.
10.2 Forest Industry Structural Adjustment Package
The purpose of the Forest Industry Structural Adjustment Package (FISAP) is to facilitate structural change within the native forest industry sector to accommodate changes in the availability of the production forest resource and assist the development of a long term ecologically and economically sustainable forest industry.
In this context, the elements of the FISAP are designed to cushion the adverse impacts on businesses and workers employed in the native forests industry sector which have been directly adversely affected by the outcomes of the DFAs/RFAs and to provide incentives for businesses remaining in the industry to increase the level of value added processing.
In response to the potential impacts of the DFAs and RFAs on workers, businesses and communities, on 3 October 1995 a paper outlining the major elements of a general assistance package was distributed for comment, prior to developing the detail of a structural adjustment package.
The package is outlined in detail in Appendix 4.
The focus of the Deferred Forest Assessment is on commercial sawlog and chipwood forest harvesting operations. Within the period of the interim protection measures, the impact of other activities such as mining, beekeeping, miscellaneous minor forest products such as firewood and fence posts, and grazing are generally unlikely to foreclose options for a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) reserve system, although these land uses continue to be subject to the relevant Commonwealth and State environmental legislation.
Mining is a very significant land use in the Deferred Forest Assessment region, particularly in the bauxite rich areas of the northern Jarrah forest. In most cases, exploration and mining activities are locally intensive and, during the period of the DFA, it is unlikely that substantial extensive activities will occur that will not be subject to detailed environmental impact assessment under relevant State and Commonwealth legislation. On this basis mining access to deferred areas will not be restricted as a result of the DFA. Mining will be considered in CRAs along with other land uses.
10.4 Aboriginal rights
Aboriginal rights will not be restricted as a consequence of the DFA process, however it is recognised that such rights will need to be explicitly addressed during the CRA/RFA process and that appropriate consultation mechanisms need to be developed to ensure stakeholder involvement.
Outcome of DFAs
The assessments carried out for protection of biodiversity and wilderness values revealed that no forest areas need to be deferred from forest harvesting so as not to foreclose options for a CAR reserve system.
The attribute where a difference was found against the Commonwealth's criteria was for old growth jarrah and karri forest. The areas for deferral were determined on environmental criteria with the aim of chosing those areas that would best add to the conservation values of the existing reserve system (Section 6.3.3).
The parallel aim of the Deferred Forest Assessments was to minimise the social and economic impacts of deferring areas. Where rescheduling was possible deferral of areas could be made without impacting on the availability of resource, although there would be costs incurred through the rescheduling operations. Rescheduling costs also were minimised without compromising environmental objectives. Where rescheduling was not possible, as in the northern jarrah old growth, the final DFA outcomes were informed by the social and economic assessments undertaken of the potential impacts of removing the timber resource (Section 10).
11.1 Protection of Deferred Forest Areas
Western Australia has maintained options to meet the proposed Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmarks for old-growth, wilderness and biodiversity benchmarks from publicly owned forests.
Northern Jarrah Forest
I) Given the significant economic and social impacts of obtaining 100 per cent protection of old growth in the northern jarrah forest the 90 per cent bench mark was considered the highest practicable. A difference of 5 760 hectares was identified to meet the 90 per cent reservation benchmark in the northern jarrah forest.
As an interim protection arrangement this area of jarrah old growth forest north of the Preston River will be deferred from timber harvest during the RFA preparation.
CALM will issue instructions to forest planners in the Swan Region and Central Forest Region to exclude these areas of jarrah old growth forest from coupes planned for timber harvest during 1996 and 1997 or until the RFA is completed, whichever is the sooner.
Southern Jarrah Forest
II) A difference of 28 190 hectares was identified between the Commonwealth
60 per cent benchmark and the accredited reserve area for the old growth in the southern jarrah forest.
As an interim protection arrangement 28 390 hectares of old growth jarrah forest will be deferred from timber harvesting within national estate places in the southern jarrah forest.
Sufficient large contiguous areas of old growth jarrah, representative of the geographic range, can be found in the following national estate places and sub areas:
Table 1 Old growth jarrah in National Estate sub areas
S.W. Carey Brook
28 390 ha
III) A difference of 1 080 hectares was identified between the Commonwealth
60% benchmark and the total accredited reserve area for old growth karri forest.
As an interim protection arrangement 1210 hectares of old growth karri forest will be deferred from timber harvesting within National Estate places.
Sufficient additional large areas of old growth karri can be found in the following national estate places and sub areas.
Table Old growth karri forest in National Estate sub areas
The areas of jarrah old growth forest in the twelve identified national estate sub areas (and karri from the two identified national estate sub areas) will be excluded from timber harvest during 1996 and 1997 or until the RFA is completed which ever is the sooner.
Minor clearing of old growth jarrah forest may be necessary in these national estate sub areas, during the RFA period, and fire protection.
IV) In relation to riparian and roadside reserves, CALM will ensure that options for a CAR reserve system are not foreclosed during the DFA period by restricting timber harvest to only one side of stream, river or road reserves during that period or by providing an additional buffer to these reserves or by discounting the contribution of these reserves.
V) as an additional precautionary measure the Commonwealth has requested Western Australia to extend the moratorium on logging in any National Estate place until the end of 1997 or until an RFA is signed, which ever is the sooner
11.2 Issues for Consideration in the Preparation of a RFA
There are a number of issues which arose during the Deferred Forest Assessment, which will need to be addressed by the governments during the preparation of a Regional Forest Agreement. These issues include:
Region boundary and utilisation of IBRA regions
Definition of forest
Definition of old growth forest - clarification of disturbance and growth stage data
Benchmark for old growth forest
Assessment of forest types, other than jarrah and karri
Contribution of administrative reserves to CAR values
Forest types on all land tenures
Completion of the National Wilderness Inventory
Finer scale of biodiversity assessment
Methodology for wilderness assessment, including thresholds for individual wilderness indicators
Reserve criteria to be used.
12. DEFERRED FOREST AGREEMENT
A Deferred Forest Agreement will ratify the key obligations of each Government in respect of the outcomes of the Deferred Forest Assessment. It will include obligations for management of and access to deferred areas and will incorporate a mechanism for review of the DFAs designated by the agreements should this be required by exceptional circumstances.
Summary maps A3 size are attached to the end of this report. The scale of the maps is approximately 1:500 000. The maps show existing national parks and formal reserves, Deferred Forest Areas and remaining forest on public land. Due to technical difficulties it has not been possible to show informal reserves in the northern jarrah forest.
14. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NFPS
14.1 Development of CRAs/RFAs
It is emphasised that the Deferred Forest Assessment process provides an interim arrangement to ensure that options for a CAR reserve system are not foreclosed by logging activities whilst the CRA and RFA process is completed for each region.
CRAs will encompass studies covering old growth, wilderness, biodiversity, endangered species, national estate values, world heritage values, social impacts (including community needs and values) and economic values of the forested areas. Once complete, the CRA will allow the development of long-term management arrangements through the negotiation of RFAs between the Commonwealth and States, taking into account the full range of social and economic benefits and costs of alternative forest use options.
14.1.1 Scoping Agreements
To progress the CRA/RFA process, Commonwealth and State officials have drafted Scoping Agreements which will commit Governments to proceed to the negotiation of RFAs and to establish processes and timetables for their completion. It is expected that RFAs will be completed over the next one to three years, depending on the availability of data.
The Scoping Agreements specify the studies and processes which will constitute the environmental, economic and social components of the Comprehensive Regional Assessments. They also determine a process for the accreditation of each party's data and processes and provide for agreement on codes of forest practice and other management arrangements for forests within RFA boundaries.
14.2 Wood and Paper Industries Strategy
The Wood and Paper Industries Strategy will provide a basis for the future development of both plantation and native forest-based industries. In doing so, it will complement both the RFA process, which will determine the resource available to the native forest-based industries, and the structural adjustment package, which will address the needs of those adversely affected by the constraints which the RFAs will place on access to native forests.
The Strategy complements the DFA/RFA processes by creating further avenues for promoting ecologically sustainable management of forest resources and increasing the value added to the resource by domestic processors. In addition, it focuses on expanding and fully utilising Australia's plantation resources, and improving regional employment and training opportunities. It is also proposed that a Wood and Paper Industry Council, chaired by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology with members from industry, unions and government, be established to progressively implement and further develop the Strategy.
14.3 Woodchip Export Licences
The DFA provides the basis for the Commonwealth consideration of environmental considerations in issuing woodchip export licences for 1996 with the surety that areas made available for harvesting, pending finalisation of RFAs, will not compromise the ability to develop a comprehensive adequate and representative reserve system and that other Commonwealth obligations are met.
The decision on export licence approvals rests with the Federal Minister for Resources who will have regard to the outcomes of the DFA process, advice from the Federal Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories and from the Australian Heritage Commission in making a determination on export licence applications for 1996.
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Appendix 1: Vesting, Tenure and Purpose of Land Managed by CALM