The development of the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) between the New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments involves a number of stages. The comprehensive regional assessment (CRA) has involved both governments in a wide array of projects to provide the necessary information to identify forest associated values and determine possible approaches for an RFA. Later stages include the integration of social, economic, environment and heritage values in the region, public consultation and drafting of the RFA.
This report presents the results of the assessment of natural national estate values conducted as part of the CRA and identifies indicative areas of national estate value in the region. The work was conducted as part of the project: JANIS Conservation Requirements and Natural National Estate Identification, Assessment and Protection for the Upper and Lower North East. Conservation requirements will be reported on separately.
Under the National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS 1992), Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments agreed to the assessment of national estate values of forests. Attachment 1 of the NSW CRA/RFA Scoping Agreement requires the CRAs to ‘identify, assess and document national estate values including natural and cultural heritage in NSW to satisfy Commonwealth obligations under the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975.’
Key points from the Scoping Agreement include:
Identification to be undertaken jointly by the Australian Heritage Commission (the Commission) and NSW in accordance with national estate criteria for identifying places of significance;
Identification, delineation and mapping of national estate values and places;
Assessment of current levels of protection of national estate values and places;
Identification of conservation principles for the protection of national estate values and places;
Documentation of agreed methodologies; and
Documentation sufficient for interim listing in the Register of the National Estate (RNE) where appropriate.
As defined in the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975, the national estate comprises:
those places, being components of the natural environment of Australia, or the cultural environment of Australia, that have aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance or other special value for future generations as well as for the present community. The Australian Heritage Commission’s responsibility is to identify the national estate and under section 30 of the Act, to advise the Commonwealth Government on the protection of national estate places and the potential impact on national estate values of Commonwealth decision relating to those places. The Act also requires the establishment of the Register of the National Estate. The Register includes places of importance at a local, regional or national level. The identification and assessment of places for listing in the Register is guided by the national estate criteria.
The information documented in this report will be taken into account in delineating national estate places. Areas endorsed by the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC) will be interim listed in the Register of the National Estate. Interim listed areas will then be advertised and subject to a statutory period of three months (allowed for objections and public comment). Interim listing of areas identified through this process is expected to take place after the RFA for lower north-eastern NSW is signed.