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Scientific assessment released for North East RFA



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MEDIA RELEASEScale Government of Victoria Com monwealth M inister for the Environment, Robert Hill Com m onw ealth M inister for Primary Industries and Energy, John A nderson Victorian M inister for Conservation and Land Management, Marie T ehan

SCIENTIFIC ASSESSMENTS RELEASED FOR NORTH EAST RFA

Victoria's third 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 North East region.

Covering the natural, social, economic, resource and cultural values of the region's 1.3 million hectares of native forest, the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) provides the information base for an Agreement which will determine how the forests will be managed over the next 20 years.

The RFA will aim to facilitate job growth and new economic opportunities in forest-based industries, and protect environmental values with a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system. It will also ensure ecologically sustainable management of both reserved and production forests.

Releasing the assessment report today, the Minister for the Environment, Senator Hill, the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, and the Minister for Conservation and Land Management, Marie Tehan encouraged everyone interested in the region's forests to continue working together towards the best possible outcome.

"Victoria's first two RFAs for East Gippsland and the Central Highlands have created certainty resulting in value adding opportunities in forest-based industries," Mr Anderson said.

"The assessment for the North East will provide the basis for evaluating industry opportunities that may occur given the certainty provided by an RFA."

Senator Hill said he was confident that the RFA process would deliver a world class reserve system in the region.

"The extensive environmental studies will provide a sound scientific base for conservation of the region's rich biodiversity and old growth forest," he said, "not just in reserves, but by ensuring forests are sustainably managed and that strategies are in place for protecting rare or endangered species".

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Mrs Tehan said the RFA would be developed taking into account the comprehensive land use planning processes that have been undertaken and are planned for the region, including the work of the former Land Conservation Council and the proposed Forest Management Plan for the North East.

"I look forward to completing Victoria's third RFA, which will provide the certainty rural communities are seeking in relation to their forests," she said.

The Ministers encouraged all those interested in the development of RFA to attend one of three meetings in Corryong, Myrtleford and Mansfield from September 1-3 to discuss the assessment report and the development of a directions paper leading up to the RFA.

The meetings will be held at:

CORRYONG 7.30, Tuesday, September 1 Corryong Hotel Motel, 54 Towong Road.

MYRTLEFORD 7.30pm, Wednesday, September 2 Function Room, Savoy Club, Ovens Highway

MANSFIELD 7.30pm Thursday, September 3 Delatite Meeting Room, 33 Highett Street.

The North East RFA is scheduled for completion later this year.

Contacts: Matt Brown (Senator Hill): Robert Haynes (Mr Anderson): Jon Richards (Victoria):

02 6277 7640 02 6277 7520 03 9651 5799