Tas­ma­nian Re­gional For­est Agree­ment ex­tended

Australian Forests and Timber - - In The News - By Se­na­tor Anne Rus­ton As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources

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.

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