Australia has a well-established institutional framework to support the conservation and sustainable management of forests. Forest policy in Australia is developed and implemented at the national, state and territory levels. State and territory governments have primary responsibility for forest management.
What are governments doing?
The Australian, state and territory governments are all signatories to the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS). The NFPS provides the framework within which the governments work cooperatively to achieve their vision for sustainable management of Australia's forests, while ensuring that community expectations are met.
A key element of the approach adopted in the NFPS involved the negotiation of Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) between the Australian and some state governments. RFAs are 20-year plans for the conservation and sustainable management of Australia’s native forests; they are designed to provide certainty for forest-based industries, forest-dependent communities and acheive conservation outcomes.
RFAs use a science-based methodology to determine forest allocation for different uses and forest management strategies, and are the result of substantial scientific study, consultation and negotiation covering a diverse range of interests.
In addition to the NFPS and the RFAs, the Australian Government has a number of key forest policies to achieve key conservation and management outcomes for Australia’s forest and forest industries.
- Plantations for Australia: the 2020 Vision: The Plantations 2020 Vision is a strategic partnership between the Australian, state and territory governments and the plantation timber growing and processing industries. Its overarching principle is to enhance regional wealth creation and international competitiveness through a sustainable increase in Australia's plantations, based on a notional target of trebling the area of commercial tree crops to around 3 million hectares by 2020.
- National Indigenous Forestry Strategy: The Australian Government has developed a National Indigenous Forestry Strategy in consultation with Indigenous communities and forest industry stakeholders. A key aim of NIFS is to encourage Indigenous participation in the forest industry by forming business partnerships with the forestry industry to provide long-term benefits to Indigenous communities, as well as to the forest and wood products industry.
- Illegal Logging: In November 2012 the Australian Parliament passed the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 which makes it an offence to import illegally logged timber into the Australian market and to process timber that has been illegally harvested here in Australia. Illegal logging is a major problem for many developing nations, causing forest degradation, loss of habitat and biodiversity, threatening sustainable livelihoods and contributing to global carbon emissions. The Act creates an even economic playing field for the purchase and sale of legally logged timber products in Australia and gives consumers and businesses greater certainty about the legality of the timber products they buy.