The NSW Government should give the highest priority to the continuous improvement system for FRAMES as required under Milestone 48 and development of the inventory plot measurement systems required across the various regions as required under Milestone 49.
Both Parties agree that the Forest Resource Assessment and Management Evaluation System (FRAMES) provides the toolkit of applications for long-term wood supply determinations from State forests in the three RFA regions where harvesting is permitted.
The development of FRAMES for the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) process, undertaken prior to the signing of the three NSW RFAs, was a joint process between the Australian and NSW governments. As a joint investment by the two governments, both remain firmly committed to its implementation and continuous improvement as a mechanism to provide the long-term wood supply determinations within the three NSW RFA regions.
Forests NSW is committed to periodically improve and implement the ongoing FRAMES program to improve estimations of current and future wood supply yields.
The NSW Government should ensure that its FRAMES and associated supply models undergo regular (5 yearly) expert independent assessment to confirm the efficacy of any of improvement and other amendments to the system.
Joint Government Response
Both Parties agree that the FRAMES program would benefit from expert independent assessment to bolster stakeholder groups especially industry and public confidence in the efficacy of the program which delivers wood supply determinations for the three RFA regions.
The NSW Government, through Forests NSW, is currently committed to continuous improvements to FRAMES occurring through periodic enhancements to input models.
Both Parties agree that expert independent assessment of FRAMES will be carried out on an as-needs basis when periodic enhancements or change(s) made to the input models by Forests NSW result in significant variation to wood supply level determinations. The Parties agree that an example of significant variation would be a revision of a sustainable yield forecast for wood supply that is plus or minus ten per cent of estimates prior to the change(s).
Reviewers Recommendation 15
The Parties should;
Satisfy themselves that the requirements of Milestone 51 to provide annual comparisons of actual and modelled yields can not be cost effectively or safely delivered in the form originally envisioned in the RFAs and
If so, initiate action to develop an alternative arrangement that allows consideration of actual v modelled performance using the information already produced by Forests NSW. This data should be published annually.
Keep this matter under continuous review to take advantage of refinements in FRAMES that might allow better comparison of actual v modelled performance at a sub regional scale.
Joint Government Response
The three NSW RFAs require the comparison of actual harvested volumes versus harvestable volumes predicted by FRAMES to be compared annually as a means of testing the accuracy of estimates. However, as noted in the Report on Progress, there have been some significant technical difficulties in delivering on this requirement meaningfully below the “whole-of-forest estate” level.
In 2011, to meet recommendations made by the NSW Auditor General in a performance report6 and consequently the Independent Assessors recommendation, Forests NSW engaged an independent consultant to provide advice on the best and most practical approach to provide for the monitoring of actual versus predicted harvested volumes.
Based on advice received, Forests NSW has now developed an alternative approach that will allow for consideration of the actual versus predicted harvested volume performance below the “whole-of-forest estate” level. In short, Forests NSW have made developments that integrate spatial harvest event recording and sales databases and have revised FRAMES analysis parameters in an effort to improve the accuracy of the FRAMES volume estimates at a finer scale.
The alternative approach is detailed in a five year FRAMES reconciliation study (between July 2005 and June 2010) for the North East and Southern RFA regions.
Planning has also commenced to update resource estimates in the Eden RFA region. This project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
Reviewers Recommendation 16
The NSW Government should take early action to complete the various review of sustainable yield calculations as required under Milestone 53. These reviews should be made available publicly when completed. Publication of a description of sustainable yield calculation methodologies as required by Milestone 54 should occur as soon as possible.
Joint Government Response
Both Parties agree that reviews of sustainable yield, which delivers wood supply yields for the three NSW RFA regions, are essential to the socio-economic outcomes under the NSW RFAs.
Accordingly, the NSW Government through Forests NSW, recently completed and published the results of sustainable yield reviews for the Eden and Southern RFA regions. The results of sustainable yield reviews for these RFA regions can be found at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forests/management/reporting/audit
In the North East, as outlined in the Report of Progress, an independent review of sustainable yield was completed for the North East RFA region in 2002 by Professor Vanclay of the Southern Cross University.
In relation to Milestone 54, FRAMES and sustainable yield documentation was produced as part of the NSW Comprehensive Regional Assessments. A list of these documents is provided at Annex F.
As the process of improvement undertaken since the signing of RFA’s primarily consists of refinements to the models rather than methodology changes, these documents remain largely relevant in 2014. The independent review of sustainable yield conducted in the North East of NSW by Professor Vanclay documented changes to yield assessment methodology. For other RFA regions, a similar process of documenting significant changes to yield assessment methodology will occur as a part of the independent audits of sustainable yield that are required to be done as a component of the second five yearly review.