Karri Road 50
Karri trees - Photo @ Parks and Wildlife

What are Regional Forest Agreements?

Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are 20-year plans for the conservation and sustainable management of Australia's native forests. There are 10 RFAs in four States, Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.

The Agreements provide certainty for forest-based industries, forest-dependent communities and conservation. They are the result of years of scientific study, consultation and negotiation covering a diverse range of interests.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The Regional Forest Agreement for the South-West Forest Region of Western Australia (WA RFA) is part of a national blueprint for balance, certainty and sustainability in forest management.

The WA RFA is a 20-year agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments on the use and management of the forests of Western Australia's south-west. The WA RFA was signed on 4 May 1999 and expires in 2019.

It meets the three main objectives of the RFA process:

  • to protect environmental values in a world class system of national parks and other reserves, based on nationally agreed criteria;
  • to encourage job creation and growth in forest-based industries, including wood products, tourism and minerals; and
  • to manage all native forests in a sustainable way.

For the environment, it established a world class reserve system which is Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative of the forests' biodiversity, old-growth forest, and other natural and cultural values.

Western Australian Regional Forest Agreement and map

Extending the Western Australian Regional Forest Agreement

The WA RFA is set to expire in May 2019. Clause 6 of the WA RFA provides for the State and Commonwealth to agree a process for extending the agreement.

The Australian and Western Australian Governments have agreed to extend the WA RFA. Arrangements to extend the agreement are available from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

While the WA RFA will not be renegotiated or changes made to the fundamental objectives of the agreement, some improvements to the framework have been identified. These are:

  • Modernising the WA RFA – where practicable, incorporate contemporary information, reflect changes in policy and processes and update references to superseded legislation and policy. We are interested in finding out what improvements could be made to the WA RFA framework.
  • Streamlined and strengthened review and reporting arrangements – presently the five yearly reviews examine the implementation of the WA RFA clause-by-clause. Proposed improvements to review and reporting arrangements will be outcomes focused. We are interested in your view on how governments could improve outcomes-focused monitoring and reporting as part of extending the WA RFA.
  • Improved and contemporary dispute resolution mechanisms – these will give the governments more options for resolving issues about the implementation of the WA RFA.
  • Improved communication and consultation – the governments will hold annual official level bilateral meetings, in the interim years between five-yearly reviews, to discuss issues relating to the ongoing implementation of the WA RFA.

Stakeholder feedback to the third five-yearly review of the WA RFA will be reflected in the extension process. In addition, targeted stakeholder consultation was undertaken in October/November 2018.

Progress reports

The WA RFA requires the State and Commonwealth to undertake regular reporting on the progress made in meeting agreed milestones and commitments.

Third five-year progress report
A third five-year progress report has been prepared and covers the years 2009 to 2014 (Period 3). The report is a key component of the overall process for undertaking the third five-yearly review of progress. This process and timing is outlined in the following scoping agreement.

The Period 3 progress report provides background information on the WA RFA, an outline of key changes impacting on the agreement, details on the progress against each milestone, commitment and obligation contained in the agreement, and an update of actions undertaken in response to the Independent Reviewer’s recommendations from the combined first (Period 1: 1999 to 2004) and second (Period 2: 2005 to 2009) five-year progress report.

Mr Graham Wilkinson of Tasmania undertook an independent review of the Period 3 progress report. Mr Wilkinson’s review report was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 8 August 2017. The review report and public submissions received on the Period 3 progress report have been published on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resource website.

First and second five-yearly progress report

The combined first (Period 1: 1999 to 2004) and second (Period 2: 2005 to 2009) five-year progress with implementation report process was finalised in February 2015. The combined Period 1 and Period 2 progress report follows:

The independent review for this progress report was carried out by Dr Glen Kile. Dr Kile’s review was tabled in the Parliament of Australia on 18 March 2014. It made 13 recommendations which were addressed by the State and Commonwealth in a joint Government response, tabled in the Parliament of Australia on 11 February 2015. A status update on the progress to implement Dr Kile’s recommendations is provided in the Period 3 progress report (above).

History of the Regional Forest Agreement for the South-West Forest Region of Western Australia

Planning for the Regional Forest Agreements  between the Commonwealth and individual States began back in 1992, when the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments signed the National Forest Policy Statement, agreeing to work together towards a shared vision for Australia's forests.
The Regional Forest Agreement process began in WA in 1996 and had three phases:

  • The Comprehensive Regional Assessment provided an information base. It involved more than 40 scientific projects assessing the environmental, heritage, social and economic uses and values of the forests. Experts contributing to the assessment came from such fields as forest ecology, soil science, geomorphology, hydrology, archaeology, botany, zoology, geography, soil science and geology, as well as economics, social planning and regional development. Some pdf49 project reports129.69 KB were prepared. These reports are publicly available from the department’s Conservation Library, located at the Kensington head office.
  • All of the assessment data was merged and a Discussion Paper was released for public comment.
  • The final Regional Forest Agreement for Western Australia between the State and Commonwealth was developed, taking account of the full range of public comments.