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Comprehensive regional assessment released



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JOINT STATEMENT

Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, Robert Hill Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Cheryl Edwardes

COMPREHENSIVE REGIONAL ASSESSMENT RELEASED FOR WA REGIONAL FOREST AGREEMENT

The Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) for Western Australia's South-West forest region comes a step closer today with the release of a detailed assessment of the region's native forests.

Covering the environmental, social, economic, resource and cultural values of the region's native forests, the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) Report provides the information base for the development of an RFA between the Commonwealth and State governments.

The RFA will be a 20 year plan for the use and management of the region's forests. 1 ,

Hie RFA will aim to protect the environmental values of native forest in a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) Reserve system, ensure ecologically sustainable forest management, and promote the development of internationally competitive forest-based industries.

Welcoming the release of the assessment report today, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, and the WA Minister for the Environment, Cheryl Edwardes, encouraged all interest groups and individuals to continue to be involved in working towards a balanced and responsible RFA.

Senator Hill said the State's South-West forest region has unique biodiversity values, including important habitat for a number of endangered species. He said the region also has a wealth of natural and cultural heritage values.

"This assessment provides the scientific base for sound decisions on how best to protect all these environmental and cultural values for future generations," he said.

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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.

"The RFA will provide the certainty that industries need to plan ahead, develop new markets and to continue to support the local community."

Mrs Edwardes said the RFA would address the important issue of adequately protecting forest ecosystems including old growth jarrah and karri forest.

"The aim is to develop a balanced outcome that will protect the region's environment and heritage values as well as providing a secure future for industries and communities."

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 WA RFA to read the assessment report and learn more about all aspects of the forests.

The CRA report will be followed by the release of a public consultation paper for the RFA, which will be widely circulated.

During that period there will be RFA information days in the region for local communities to study the information available. Maps and scientific data will also be publicly available at 23 information centres throughout the South West and in Perth.

The information days will be advertised in local and regional media.

FEBRUARY 6 1998

Contacts:

Matt Brown, Senator Hill's Office Robert Haynes, Mr Anderson's Office Diana Russell Coote, Mrs Edwardes' Office

06 277 7640 06 277 7520 08 9421 7777

The WA CRA and all RFA reports are on the internet at: www.rfa.gov.au