Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement extended
Tasmania's forestry industry will continue to contribute to the State’s economy following the extension of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA).
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Premier Will Hodgman signed the agreement in Launceston on Friday 18 August, extending the RFA until 2037.
The Tasmanian RFA seeks to find a balance between the economic, social and environmental values and uses of Tasmanian forests. It has proven to be a strong and effective framework for sustainable management and conservation.
Our extension of this agreement provides this sustainable and renewable industry with certainty that they will have long term access to wood resources from Tasmania’s sustainably managed forests. This certainty will lead to investment, innovation, higher productivity, additional growth and jobs, and will have material long-term benefits for Tasmanian communities.
Jobs in our regional communities are not always easy to find and the benefits of a competitive and sustainable forestry industry should not be underestimated. There are currently around 3600 people employed directly by the forestry industry in Tasmania. As the Prime Minister said at the signing , we want to ensure the RFA continues to create more employment opportunities for future generations.
The Tasmanian RFA also protects biodiversity, old-growth forest and high quality wilderness values of Tasmanian forests through a comprehensive system of reserves covering over half of the State’s land area. This estate has increased by 80 per cent, or 800 000 hectares, since the RFA was signed. Fiftytwo per cent of Tasmania’s forests are now protected in reserves, and more than one million hectares of old-growth forests are protected by the Tasmanian RFA on public and private land.
Complementary ecologically sustainable forest management practices take place in forests outside of reserves. Forestry operations are managed in accordance with the Tasmanian forest practices system which is recognised to be among the world’s best, giving practical effect to ecologically sustainable management.
In addition to the 20year extension, we have also introduced a rolling life for the Tasmanian RFA. This means it will be extended by five years, at each of its five-yearly independent reviews, if it continues to satisfactorily implement its obligations and commitments.
RFAs are a robust and adaptable framework that require forest management and forestry practices to evolve and improve with new information, changing industry needs and community attitudes.
The extension of the Tasmanian RFA gives long-term stability to conservation of biodiversity and heritage values, and certainty of resource access for industry, ensuring the whole community can continue to enjoy the many benefits that renewable Tasmanian forests provide.
The Commonwealth Government is committed to the forest products industry, evident through the signing of the Tasmanian RFA.
I am currently working with the remaining RFA states on the review and extension of their RFAs. The extension of these agreements are important because they are the best way to provide resource security and investment confidence for the forestry industry. This in turn provides the basis for productive and innovative businesses, and growth and stability in regional communities.