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Regional forest assessment initiative belongs to feds



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John Anderson, MR Deputy Leader, National Party of Australia Shadow Minister for Primary Industry

_________ Canberra: Phone (06) 277 4074

________ Gunnedah: Phone (067) 423155

Media Release

REGIONAL FOREST ASSESSMENT INITIATIVE BELONGS TO FEDS

The Prime Minister today claimed th at no Regional Forest Agreements had been put in place under the terms of the National Forest Policy Statement because the States had not invited the Commonwealth to participate in regional assessments.

This is a gross misrepresentation of the process agreed under the NFPS.

The NFPS seeks to establish a comprehensive, adequate and representative network of conservation reserves based on regional assessments conducted to determine which areas of forest are worthy of being included in the reserve system.

These assessments are supposed to be carried out according to a set of environmental criteria agreed between the States and Commonwealth.

The NFPS states that these criteria are to be developed by a Steering Committee of the Australia and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) and the Australian Forestry Council (AFC).

The Federal Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories is the chairman of ANZECC and therefore he has ultimate responsibility for ensuring the criteria are developed so that regional assessments can commence.

The States are still waiting for the environemntal assessment criteria to be issued.

The reference to invitations in the NFPS appears on P.10 and reads:

"In situations where the Commonwealth has been invited by the States to assist in assessing the adequacy of the existing reserve system, the Commonwealth will, when requested, consider support for the assessment process and the establishment of new reserves...".

There is no point in issuing invitations before receiving the assessment criteria.

No Regional Forest Agreements are in place because the Federal Government has still not finalised the guidelines for regional assessments, despite repeated requests by the States for it to do so, some two years since the NFPS was signed.

2 February 1995 Details: Contact (06) 277 4074

COMMONWEALTH