The Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) provide a framework for the continued sustainable management of Victoria’s forests and forest-based wildlife.
The 2019-20 bushfires have had significant impacts on forests, biodiversity, forestry industries and regional communities. The Australian and Victorian governments have agreed that, as a consequence of the 2019-20 bushfires in Victoria, a Major Event Review (MER) of the Victorian RFAs will be undertaken.
On 12 April 2022, the Panel of the Major Event Review of the 2019-2020 bushfires, Dr Gillian Sparkes AM, Katherine Mullett and Dr Tony Bartlett AFSM, provided its final report to the former Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Senator the Hon Jonathon Duniam.
The Final Report is comprehensive, and the Australian and Victorian governments will consider its 37 recommendations, before providing a government response in accordance with the terms of the Scoping Agreement.
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The MER commenced upon signature of the Scoping Agreement, which outlines agreed arrangements for undertaking the review. The signed Scoping Agreement can be found here:
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Who oversaw the Major Event Review?
The MER was undertaken by an independent panel and informed by current information including scientific data and research, community perspectives, and Traditional Owner insights relating to the impacts of the bushfires on the RFA regions.
The panel members were:
- Dr Gillian Sparkes AM was appointed as Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability in 2014. She has held senior roles in the Victorian government environment portfolio, including as Chair of the Board of Sustainability Victoria and Deputy Secretary Corporate and Business Services for the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
- Dr Tony Bartlett AFSM is an experienced forester and has worked in Australian and international forestry for 45 years. He has been responsible for the development of sustainable forest management practices and forest policy initiatives and has managed a commercial plantation business.
- Katherine Mullett is a proud Gunaikurnai, Ngarigo Monero woman with a strong background in Cultural Heritage Management and Land Management, spanning over 10 years. She works as the Parks Victoria Aboriginal Heritage Coordinator East Region heritage officer, has had roles as a Ranger for Parks Victoria in both Buchan and Bairnsdale, and has an active Fireline role. She is a member of the Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner Land Management Board and Subcommittee Member to the Gunaikurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporations, Audit and Risk Committee and the Native Title Cultural Heritage Committee.
Public consultation and engagement
The Australian and Victorian governments have jointly prepared a Summary Report that outlines the impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires on the RFA regions, based on existing information.
The Summary Report was provided for public comment on the Engage Victoria website between 11 June and 31 August 2021. The submission period is now closed. Feedback that was received on the report was provided to the independent panel to inform their deliberations. The Summary Report is available on the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.
The Panel held community consultation sessions and targeted engagement with stakeholders and Traditional Owners throughout August and September 2021. The Panel’s engagement period has now closed.
Will the Major Event Review open the RFAs for renegotiation?
As outlined in the Major Event Review Scoping Agreement, the review will not open the RFAs for renegotiation. The review will consider and make recommendations on what, if any, remedial actions need to be taken to address the impact of the 2019-20 bushfires in relation to Regional Forest Agreements.