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Karri trees.

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, Water and The Environment

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 Western Australian and Australian Governments on the management and use of the forests of Western Australia's south-west. The agreement established a world-class reserve systemn that is Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative of the forests' biodiversity, old-growth forest, and other natural and cultural values.

The WA RFA was signed on 4 March 1999.

It meets the three main objectives of RFAs:

  • 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.

Western Australian Regional Forest Agreement and map

Extending the Western Australian Regional Forest Agreement

The Western Australian and Australian Governments have extended the WA RFA for a further 20 years, also introducing a rolling life for the agreement. The process to extend the WA RFA was completed with the signing of the Deed of Variation in March 2019.

Two key documents were prepared to support the extension process.

  1. Assessment of matters pertaining to renewal of the Regional Forest Agreement for the South-West Forest Region of Western Australia. 
    This document provides an assessment of how the various uses and values of the WA RFA have been monitored, maintained, implemented and addressed since the Comprehensive Regional Assessment and signing of the WA RFA.

  2. The Forest Management System in Western Australia: An Overview.
    WA's forest management system is the suite of legislation, policies, codes of practice, procedures, plans and management processes for forest management. It is designed to achieve ecologically sustainable forest management across both public and private land tenures within the State’s south-west.

  3. Extending the Regional Forest Agreement for the South-West of Western Australia Overview of Stakeholder Engagement.
    Stakeholder engagement sessions were held in late October and early November 2018, where feedback was sought from key stakeholders on practical improvements to the WA RFA. A number of written submission were also received. An overview of the issues raised by stakeholders was prepared.

For more detail on the extension process and to view the Deed of Variation, Assessment of matters pertaining to the renewal of the WA RFA and the Overview of Stakeholder Engagement documents, please visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

Annual meeting of officials

The WA RFA Annual Meeting of Officials is held in the years between the five-yearly reviews, as part of the Australian and Western Australian governments’ commitment to strengthened communications under the extended WA RFA. The first annual meeting took place on 11 March 2020. A communique from the meeting is available to view on the Australian Government's website.

Progress reports

The WA RFA requires the Western Australian and Australian Governments to undertake regular reporting on the progress made in meeting agreed milestones and commitments. With the signing of the Deed of Variation to extend the WA RFA, successful completion of progress reports will form part of the basis for rolling extensions to the agreement. 

Progress reports on implementation of the WA RFA have been prepared for the first, second and third five-year periods of the operation of the agreement.

Third five-year progress report

A third five-year (Period 3: 2009 to 2014) progress with implementation report was finalised in February 2019. 

The independent review for the Period 3 progress report was carried out by Mr Graham Wilkinson. Mr Wilkinson made 17 recommendations which were addressed by Western Australia and the Commonwealth in a joint Government response, tabled in the Australian Parliament on 19 February 2019.

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 independent review for the combined Period 1 and Period 2 progress report was carried out by Dr Glen Kile. Dr Kile made 13 recommendations which were addressed by Western Australia and the Commonwealth in a joint Government response, tabled in the Parliament of Australia on 11 February 2015. 

For further detail on the WA RFA progress reports, please visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

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 available from the department’s Conservation Library, located at the Kensington head office, or online from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website. 
  • 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.