Information supplied by the Australian Government to Independent Assessor
Role of the Australian Government in RFAs
At the Commonwealth level, responsibility for the RFAs lies with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. However, as many of the RFA aims relate to environmental outcomes, consultation is required with the Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts. The Australian Government’s role is to coordinate a national approach to environmental and industry development issues.
Some questions have been raised regarding changes in the reporting of forest cover through the Australia’s State of the Forest report (2008). The ability to estimate forest extent continues to improve with the increasing availability of high resolution, remotely sensed data and improvements in methods of identifying forest types. This largely explains the revision of reported areas.
While Australia’s plantation resource has significantly increased and now provides more than two thirds of logs harvested in Australia, plantations are currently unable to meet domestic demand for hardwood sawlogs. In 2007-2008, approximately 3.6 million cubic metres of hardwood sawlogs were consumed in Australia, with 3.1 million cubic metres sourced from Australia’s forests. Of domestically sourced hardwood sawlogs, approximately 94 per cent came from native forests and 6 per cent from plantations.
Australia’s forest and wood product statistics can be found on the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics’ website: www.abareconomics.com.
The first Independent review of the EPBC Act was undertaken by Dr Allan Hawke between October 2008 and October 2009, pursuant to section 522A on the Act. The Terms of reference for the Review required examination of:
the operation of the EPBC Act generally;
the extent to which the objects of the EPBC Act have been achieved;
the appropriateness of current matters of National Environmental Significance; and
the effectiveness of the biodiversity and wildlife conservation arrangements.
The interaction of the RFA and EPBC Acts was raised in a number of submissions to the review of the EPBC Act. Dr Hawke released an Interim report on 29 June 2009, which engaged with public submissions made to the review, and to sought further comments on issues that have been raised. The Interim Report did not make any recommendations.
Dr Hawke submitted his Final Report to the Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts for consideration at the end of October 2009. The EPBC Act Review web page provides further information including submissions and reports.
Regarding the protection of nationally listed threatened species listed after signing of the RFAs, it should be noted that Parties to the RFA agreed:
to continue to jointly prepare new and revised recovery plans;
that actions identified in recovery plans will be implemented as a matter of priority, including through the IFOA; and,
to consult on the priorities for listing threatened species (see, for example, Southern RFA Clauses 59-63).
Six management streams defined under the redeveloped Threatened Species Management Program
The redeveloped threatened species management program identifies six management streams. These management streams, the criteria for species inclusion into these management streams and the management approaches to securing the longevity of the species in these management streams are detailed below.
(1) Site-managed species
Site-managed species can be successfully secured in the wild by carrying out targeted management actions at specific sites. The objective for all Site-managed species is, ‘To secure the species in the wild in NSW for 100 years and to prevent any decline in its conservation status under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995’.
Criteria for inclusion in the Site-managed stream are:
The species is not currently secure in the wild without management intervention.
The species can be secured in the wild for 100 years through site-based management. Native vegetation management alone will not be sufficient to secure these species.
There is sufficient information about the species and its management needs to secure the species in the wild.
Site-managed species will be managed via the implementation of Species projects, which will be developed by a panel of experts with knowledge of the ecology and management requirements of each species. The expert panel will identify all actions at specific sites required to meet the management objective (see above). Operational staff will then cost the actions and verify their feasibility. These projects will then be prioritised based on their Benefit (in terms of increased viability), Likelihood of success (of management actions), and Cost (of full implementation over 50 years).
(2) Landscape species
Landscape-managed species are generally distributed across large areas and subject to threats at the landscape scale rather than at an easily defined site; such as habitat loss or degradation. These types of species can be referred to as ‘vegetation responders’ because they respond to broad-scale vegetation management programs rather than requiring individual site-based actions. The objective for Landscape species is, ‘To maintain or increase the species’ extent of occurrence for 100 years’.
Criteria for inclusion in the Landscape stream are:
The species is sparsely distributed across wide areas, without clumping or settling in recognisable, interacting subpopulations.
The species is highly mobile, migratory, or nomadic, making it difficult to identify a site where management might occur.
The species is impacted on by broad-scale threats such as habitat loss and degradation, and relies on the provision of high-quality habitat across large areas.
The program objective (‘to secure the species in the wild in NSW for 100 years’) cannot be met through site-based actions alone.
Landscape species will be managed via broad-scale vegetation management programs, such as those run by catchment management authorities, clearing controls regulated through the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, water sharing plans, particularly for species in riparian and floodplain ecosystems, and the expansion and management of national parks and reserves under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Investment in ‘high benefit areas’ for native vegetation management identified in the NSW Ecosystems Profile that is currently being developed would also contribute to securing landscape-managed species.