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RFA: here to stay.



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Last updated: 20 November 2003

RFA - here to stay

DAFF03/255M 20 November 2003

Australian Forestry and Conservation Minister Senator Ian Macdonald has labelled comments by two green groups criticising the Regional Forestry Agreement (RFA) process in Tasmania as ill-informed.

Senator Macdonald said statements by Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society that the Australian Government had not approved the result of RFA re-examination was incorrect, with the scheduled five-year review of the Tasmanian RFA by the Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC) already completed.

"The purpose of the review was not to renegotiate the 20-year RFA, but to assess progress against its specified milestones and commitments," Senator Macdonald said.

"Of the 90 commitments set out in the RFA and identified in the RPDC's terms of reference, 78 have either been completed or substantially progressed, with some progress on eight other milestones."

The Australian Government is closely examining all recommendations and Senator Macdonald expects the response to the review will be made public in the near future.

The Tasmanian RFA was signed in 1997 following extensive community consultation and a comprehensive evaluation of all forest values - environmental, social, economic and cultural.

It increased the area in reserve to 2.75 million hectares, protecting 68 per cent. of Tasmania's old-growth forests and almost 95 per cent of its high-quality wilderness.

"The RFA is a 20-year commitment that the Howard Government intends to honour," Senator Macdonald said.

"The Commonwealth is determined to work with the Tasmanian Government to support the industry and protect the environment."

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli (07) 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483