FROM THE MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION
DATE: Friday, March 31, 2000
Victoria's last two Regional Forest Agreements complete an exhaustive process that will ensure the State's forests remain ecologically sustainable well into the new century, Minister for Environment and Conservation, Ms Sherryl Garbutt, said today.
"The Bracks Government has delivered on its commitment to complete the final two RFAs with the widest possible consultation, through an open and accountable process that involved 1400 submission to two independent panels," Ms Garbutt said.
"Unprecedented consultation across the state has produced agreements that will add about 50 percent or 450,000 ha to our precious conservation reserves in the West Victoria and Gippsland regions."
Ms Garbutt said the final two RFAs would provide five new nature reserves, and significant additions to three State Parks and four National Parks.
Extra habitat protection had been given to the Powerful Owl near Trentham and the Spot-tailed Quoll in the Otways following recent sightings of the endangered animals.
With the reduction of sawlog from State forests there will also be a reduction in the availability of woodchips.
"This will be most evident in the Wombat and Otway forests," Ms Garbutt said.
"Because less forest is available for harvesting there will be reduced woodchip log volumes licensed from those areas."
Ms Garbutt said additional restrictions had been placed on timber harvesting in the Otways in preparation for a hydrology study into the effects of logging on water yields and quality in catchments.
She said priority would be given to the domestic water supply catchments, which provide the City of Geelong with water. A project brief is expected by June.
"The completion of Victoria's five RFAs clear the way for the Bracks Government to deliver its vision of forest management for Victoria," Ms Garbutt said.
"The RFAs provide a flexible framework that can be adapted as new information becomes available."
In the next 12 months the State Government would:
Ms Garbutt said the tourism and recreation value of our native forests could not be overstated.
She said $750,000 had been made available for studies in the Otway, Daylesford, and East Gippsland areas to identify appropriate themes, focal point attractions, and infrastructure needed to support growth in tourism.
Another $2.3 million had been made available to:
Ms Garbutt said Victoria's five RFAs had:
At the same time a reduction in timber harvesting is expected to see no net job loses because of the total $63 million assistance package provided by the State and Federal Governments."
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