Victoria’s forests are managed in accordance with Victorian legislation including the National Parks Act 1975, Forests Act 1958, Conservation, Forests and Land Act 1987, Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, Land Act 1958, and Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004, together with related regulations, codes of practice, management plans and policy initiatives.18F The system undertakes to balance management of the multiple values of Victoria’s forests, including environmental values.
Recent policy measures that address or overlap the issues above include:
Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 (‘Biodiversity 2037’) which sets out a 20-year vision and goals for biodiversity in Victoria
review of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act), so that it can more effectively protect Victoria’s biodiversity in the face of existing and emerging threats
amendments to regulation of native vegetation, with the aim of providing for better consideration of biodiversity elements in decision-making, including habitat for rare or threatened species, large trees, endangered ecological vegetation classes (EVCs), sensitive wetlands and coastal areas.
In 2017, the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) recommended the following be undertaken within five years:
state forests be administered under one Act
the National Parks Act 1975 be expanded to include revised categories of national parks, conservation parks, nature reserves, marine protected areas, and other categories and overlays classified as protected areas, to become the ‘National Parks and Conservation Reserves Act’
a new public land Act be developed to replace the current Land Act 1958, Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 and Forests Act 1958.
The Victorian Government has accepted these recommendations.
Elements of Victoria’s forest management framework are accredited by the Commonwealth under five Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).19F The RFAs were a key outcome of the National Forest Policy Statement (1992) through which the federal, state and territory governments committed to the sustainable management of all Australian forests.
RFAs endeavour to maintain a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system, to manage forests on an ecologically sustainable basis, and provide for the long-term stability of forests and forest industries. All five Victorian RFAs are due to expire in March 2020.
The Victorian Government endorsed a program to modernise Victoria’s RFAs. Over the next two years, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has committed to engaging with Victorian communities on how they value Victoria’s forests. DELWP will also complete assessments of forest values, including environmental values, indigenous heritage values, economic values, social values and principles of ecologically sustainable management.
It is anticipated that the outcomes of the engagement and assessments processes will inform the modernisation of Victoria’s RFAs and the planning and regulatory frameworks they accredit.