Regional Forest Agreements
The Regional Forest Agreements or RFA's (but called disagreements by Conservationists) were created through a joint State end Federal government process that was designed to provide 'resource security' to the native forest woodchip industry on public land. Under the process, clearfell logging would be guaranteed for a 20 year period in areas covered by the RFA.
Central to the RFA was the requirement that legislation be created at both the State and Federal Government levels to make the RFA's legally binding for the 20 year period.
There were five RFA’s signed for Victoria starting from 1997 to 2000.
|RFA Area||Date Signed||Federal Signiture||State Signiture|
|East Gippsland||Feburary 1997||John Howard||Jeff Kennett|
|Central Highlands||March 1998||John Howard||Jeff Kennett|
|North East||August 1999||John Howard||Jeff Kennett|
|Gippsland||March 2000||John Howard||Steve Bracks|
|West Victoria **||March 2000||John Howard||Steve Bracks|
** Cancelled in November 2002
To find out more details and see a location map for each of these RFA's go to the Federal Governments RFA website. (Note: VRN does not endorse the Federal Governments RFA website.)
For most of the 1990’s, things were going well for the native forest logging industry with both Liberal State and Federal Governments keen to give the legislated resources security that the native forest woodchip industry sought on public land in Victoria.
Then things began to go wrong for the native forest woodchippers with the surprise election of Steve Bracks in 1999. The new minority ALP government continued to go along with the RFA process and signed two more RFA's in March 2000 but refused to pass the necessary legislation to lock in all five Victorian RFA’s despite the opposition Liberal Party attempting to introduce legislation in mid 2002.
Then, as a part of the Bracks' re-election campaign in November 2002, the Victorian government announced that it would cancel the West Victoria RFA and end all woodchipping. This included a total ban on all native forest logging on public land in the Otways and the creation of the Great Otway National Park.
See more detail about cancelled RFA on OREN web site.
No RFA had ever been cancelled in Australia before.
This policy announcement was an extremely popular with the Victorian public and conservation groups but a blow to the native forest woodchip industry and the State Liberal Party.
The Federal Government under John Howard has still not recognised the fact that the West Victoria RFA has been cancelled, even though that was four years ago. The Federal government's West RFA webpage still wrongly claims the West Victorian RFA is in force.
To date the other four RFA agreements in Victoria still have not been legislated by the Victorian Parliament. Hence the Victorian government is still free to protect more forests in Eastern Victoria.