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Victoria's second Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) enters its second phase of development today with the release of a detailed scientific assessment of the native forests of the Central Highlands.
Covering the natural, social, economic, resource and cultural values of the region's native forests, the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) provides the information base for the development of an RFA which will determine how the forests in the region will be managed for the next 20 years.
The RFA will aim to protect the environmental values of native forest in a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) Reserve system and provide for ecologically sustainable forest management while facilitating job growth and new economic opportunities in forest-based industries.
Releasing the assessment report today, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, and the Victorian Minister for Conservation and Land Resources, Marie Tehan, encouraged all interest groups and individuals to continue to be involved in the RFA process to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved.
Senator Hill said the region has significant biodiversity values, including important habitat for a number of endangered species. He said the region also has a wealth of historical and cultural values.
"This assessment provides the base for sound decisions on how best to protect all these environmental and cultural values for future generations," he said.
Mr Anderson highlighted the importance of forest-based industries to the local and State economy as well as to the regional community and the significant amount of value adding by industry in the region.
"The economic, resource and social reports illustrate the potential for growth through sustainable forest management," he said. "One in three people surveyed for the social assessment say their community depends on the timber industry.
"The RFA will provide the certainty the industry needs to plan ahead, develop new markets and to continue to support the local community."
Mrs Tehan said the RFA would be developed taking into account the comprehensive land use planning processes that have been undertaken in the region, including the work of the Land Conservation Council and the proposed Forest Management Plan for the Central Highlands.
The Ministers stressed that participation by stakeholder groups and by groups and individuals in the local communities was central to the success of the RFA process.
They encouraged all those interested in the development of the Central Highlands RFA to attend a series of workshops in the region over the next few months to discuss the assessment report and the development of a directions paper leading up to the RFA. The workshops will be advertised in local and regional media.
The RFA is scheduled for completion in late 1997.
JULY 7 1997
Julie Marks, Senator Hill's Office 06 277 7640
Robert Haynes, Mr Anderson's Office 06 277 7520
Penny Johnston, Mrs Tehan's Office 03 9637 8985