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Tuesday, 20 April 1999
Page: 3944

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 5 March 1999:

With reference to native forest management in Victoria:

(1) Does the East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement require the Victorian Government to comply with the `sustainable' sawlog yields set by the Victorian Forests Act 1958.

(2) Is compliance with Victoria's legislated sustainable yields relevant or necessary to the achievement of ecologically sustainable forest management.

(3) Will the Minister: (a) investigate the evidence presented by the Otway Ranges Environment Network to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee for its inquiry into the Regional Forest Agreement Bill 1998, which showed that in a number of forest management areas (FMA) in Victoria logging is occurring well above the levels consistent with maximum sustainable yields; and (b) require the Victorian Government to provide evidence reconciling the quantity of sawlogs harvested in the East Gippsland, Benalla/Mansfield, Midlands and Wodonga FMAs with the legislated maximum sustainable yields for these regions.

(4) Will the Minister investigate the illegal reclassification of sawlogs as residual logs which is clearly occurring in Victoria and contributing to over-logging in some areas.

Senator Hill (Environment and Heritage) —The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The requirement for legal compliance with particular levels of timber harvesting is governed by the Victorian Forests Act 1958.

(2) Achieving ecologically sustainable forest management in Victoria is the responsibility of the Victorian Department of Natural Resources which is also required to comply with relevant State legislation on sustainable yield.

(3) The issues raised will be forwarded to the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment for its advice.

(4) The classification of sawlogs in Victoria is the responsibility of the Victorian government.