Deferred Forest Areas Summary Report

​Executive Summary

Deferred Forest Assessment Process

1. The National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) sets out broad conservation and industry goals for the management of Australia's forests agreed between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. 

2. Under the NFPS, Governments agreed to a framework and process for carrying out comprehensive assessments of the economic, social, environmental and heritage values of forest regions. Once completed, Comprehensive Regional Assessments (CRAs) will provide governments with the information required to make long-term decisions about forest use and management. It will be possible to complete a national comprehensive, adequate and representative (or CAR) reserve system which will safeguard biodiversity, old growth, wilderness and other natural and cultural values of forests. At the same time it will be possible to identify the optimal use and management of areas outside the reserve system. 

3. The Commonwealth and State governments have commenced the processes to enable them to negotiate an agreement setting out their obligations in relation to each forest region - a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). Such an agreement would give industries the certainty necessary to make the investment decisions which will underpin sustainable industry development, besides providing a firm basis for the management of conservation through CAR reserves and complementary off-reserve management. 

4. In March 1995, the Commonwealth Government proposed a strategy to provide interim protection for high conservation value forests in the period pending the finalisation of Regional Forest Agreements, as well as releasing draft Commonwealth criteria for CAR reserves. Final Commonwealth criteria were released after consideration of public comments in July 1995. 

5. Deferred Forest Assessments (DFAs) evaluated current levels of reservation of old growth, biodiversity and wilderness values and identified additional forest areas that may be required for a CAR reserve system ('deferred forest areas'). Careful consideration was also given to the preservation of reserve design options and their impact on National Estate places and values. 

6. Other than in Western Australia, the State's proposed logging plan and associated conservation arrangements were then examined to see what changes should be made to protect the ability to meet the Commonwealth CAR reserve criteria. The Commonwealth is seeking the State's formal agreement to restrict harvesting to those areas until an RFA is in place. Other public forests, in the deferred forest areas, include more areas than are likely to be required for a future reserve system. In Western Australia, Deferred Forest Areas have been identified which the Commonwealth believes should be set aside to enable a CAR reserve system to be developed through the RFA. Future reserve options will not be foreclosed if the States agree to the Commonwealth's proposal. 

7. A Deferred Forest Agreement will set out the key obligations of the Commonwealth and State Governments for management of and access to deferred forest and wood production areas. The Agreement will also incorporate a mechanism for review of the designation of the areas if this is necessary due to exceptional circumstances. 

Criteria for determining interim protection

8. A key element of each RFA will be the establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) forest reserve system. While national reserve criteria have yet to be agreed between the States and Commonwealth Governments, the Commonwealth has developed criteria which were used for the DFA process. Using these criteria, the Commonwealth aimed to ensure that sufficient suitable areas were set aside as Deferred Forest Areas to enable the following indicative benchmarks to be met within well designed and integrated reserves in the ensuing RFA process: 

(i) a broad benchmark of 15% of the pre-1750 distribution of each forest community to be protected within the reserve system; 

(ii) retention in reserves of at least 60% of existing old growth, increasing up to 100% (where practicable) for rare old growth; and 

(iii) protection of 90%, or more wherever practicable, of areas of high quality wilderness that exceeds minimum size thresholds. 

This will ensure that it will be possible to develop well designed and integrated CAR reserves through the ensuing RFA process. 

9. Where appropriate, the role of 'off-reserve management' in meeting conservation objectives was recognised and taken into account. 

10. The DFA process also sought to maximise the protection of national estate values, threatened and rare species and the extent to which forest communities were represented across their geographic range ('representativeness'). 

11. The DFA process sought to maximise conservation values while minimising the economic and social costs. 

Consultation process

12. The Draft DFA Reports were initially available for a three week period of public consultation. This period was extended to five weeks to ensure that all interested groups and individuals could make their submissions and to allow officials to fully consider all concerns raised during the consultations, prior to the revision of the DFA Reports and the final decision. Over 500 submissions were received. Of these, 217 related to NSW, 68 to Tasmania, 75 to Victoria and 82 to Western Australia. Issues of national significance were raised in 117 submissions. 

13. In addition, Commonwealth and State officers conducted a series of consultations with industry, union and conservation groups. Detailed maps and information were provided during the consultation period. 

Summary - New South Wales
Regions

14. Four study areas were assessed for the DFA. These study areas were Northern, Central, Southern and Eden. 

15. The total area covered by the assessments is 11.9 million ha. Of this approximately 2.1 million ha of forests are reserved and 2.19 million ha of native forest are managed by State Forests NSW, with some 68% of this estate managed for timber production. 

Biodiversity

16. The Commonwealth proposed a number of biodiversity criteria in the reserve criteria discussion paper. For the purposes of the DFA, the reservation of 15% of the pre-1750 distribution of identified land units (forest types, environmental units and vegetation types) was used as a benchmark to protect elements of biodiversity. The reservation levels of 198 land units were assessed. 

17. Of the 198 land units assessed, 142 met the Commonwealth benchmark in existing reserves and deferred areas through their inclusion in deferred areas or a combination of inclusion in deferred areas and protection from harvesting within the interim resource area using the harvesting planning process. 

18. Forty-four land units could not meet the Commonwealth benchmark on public land. These types have been fully deferred by inclusion in deferred areas or through a combination of inclusion in deferred areas and protection from harvesting within the interim resource area using the harvesting planning process. 

19. Two land units do not meet the Commonwealth benchmark on public lands and are available for harvesting in compartments in the interim resource area. The withdrawal of these types would lead to an unacceptable impact on industry, and the decision to allow some logging has been made on social and economic grounds. 

Old Growth Forests

20. Greater than 93% of the forest classification categories (Unlogged and Lightly Selectively Logged), used in lieu of broad scale old growth forest mapping, is protected in the DFA. In the Eden Management Area, greater than 90% of the old growth forest identified in an Environmental Impact Assessment has been deferred. These reservation levels meet the Commonwealth benchmark for old growth protection. 

21. The procedures outlined in the NSW Harvesting Protocol will provide additional protection to old growth forest. Old growth patches greater than 25 ha identified in scheduled compartments during the harvesting planning process will be protected from logging. 

Wilderness

22. The wilderness assessment was undertaken using the Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmark of 90% or more where practicable. This benchmark was achieved in all four regions, with percentages protected in deferred areas ranging from 96% to 99% and an average for the four regions of 97%. 

National Estate

23. Those national estate values which are equivalent to CAR values are regionally protected in each of the four regions assessed. Furthermore, in identifying the areas needed to met Commonwealth biodiversity, old-growth and wilderness benchmarks, inclusion of the National Estate was included to a significant extent in the selection of those areas. A number of other national estate values are protected coincidentally with protection of CAR values and others may be protected to some degree in the timer harvesting planning process, legislated protection mechanisms and management prescriptions. However, it is possible that other national estate values which are as yet unidentified, will be adversely affected by the proposal. Harvesting may occur in up to 10 National Estate places and the Australian Heritage Commission has provided statutory advice on the effects of these activities. 

Threatened Species

24. Threatened species distributed in forested habitats in New South Wales have management procedures, practices and recovery plans in place which satisfy the requirements of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. 

Interim Resource Areas/Social and Economic Impacts

25. As a final stage the DFA assessed the conservation criteria against the New South Wales Schedule of Works for 1995-1996. Overlaps between areas scheduled for harvest and those potentially required for a CAR reserve system were identified. Potential for rescheduling, removal or inclusion of the scheduled areas were examined to minimise economic and social impacts whilst meeting the Commonwealth reserve criteria. This was the basis used to reach agreement on harvesting areas, and enable interim protection of values, pending finalisation of the RFA. 

Conclusion

26. In NSW sufficient options exist outside those areas identified as available to industry to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth reserve criteria. 

Summary - Victoria

27. Victoria has a land area of about 22.7 million ha. Approximately 60% of this is privately owned. Of the publicly owned land, about 42% is reserved for conservation purposes (approximately 3.5 million ha) including approximately 2.5 million ha of forest. Publicly owned forest comprises a further 3.5 million ha, of which 1.2 million ha is productive and available for timber harvesting. This equates to about 5% of all land and 14% of publicly owned land. 

28. Discussions with Victorian officials have been constructive and conducted in a cooperative manner, with all Commonwealth requests for data being met. 

Regions

29. For the purposes of the DFA, Victoria was considered as consisting of five regions. These are: 

  • East Gippsland
  • Central Highlands
  • North East
  • Gippsland
  • West
Biodiversity

30. The Commonwealth proposed a number of biodiversity criteria in the reserve criteria discussion paper. For the purposes of the Victorian DFA the reservation of 15% of the pre-1750 distribution of broad forest types was used as a surrogate for biodiversity. In East Gippsland and Central Highlands, the more detailed Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) data were used. 

31. Victoria met this biodiversity criterion in nearly all cases. The notable exception listed in the draft DFA report was in the Box/Ironbark Forests. In one region, Moist Foothill Forest did not meet the regional benchmarks. 

32. In the case of Box/Ironbark forests, a key habitat for a number of rare and threatened species, the current Victorian reservation level is 4.8%, with up to a further 1.5 % available on Commonwealth land and 17.1% available on other public land. Therefore, there is sufficient forest available from which to establish a CAR reserve and this will not be significantly diminished through the next three years' planned timber harvesting. 

33. Pending finalisation of an RFA covering this area, and in response to public comment, some significant achievements have been made. The Commonwealth and Victoria have agreed on Victorian prescriptions already in place in Box/Ironbark Forests to protect larger trees which are important habitats for endangered species. A major Victorian Land and Conservation Council (LCC) independent study into the Box/Ironbark Forests will commence in 1996. With Victoria's agreement, the Commonwealth will actively participate in this study and, in consultation with the LCC, intends to assist with funding of certain tasks. The Commonwealth has announced that the Puckapunyal Defence area (about 30,000ha), which is in the Box/Ironbark Forests, will be included in the LCC assessment. The mechanism by which this will occur is yet to be finalised with the LCC. 

34. Moist Foothill Forest (including the Wombat State Forest in the Midlands Forest Management Area) was shown in the draft DFA report to meet the statewide 15% reservation level but falls below the 10% regional reservation level. 

35. The Commonwealth has requested Victoria to expand the Special Protection Zones (SPZs) in the Wombat State Forest by 13,000 ha and undertake a flora and fauna biodiversity study as part of the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) process in the Wombat State Forest. Examination of the draft Forest Management Area (FMA) plan for this area, about to be released for comment, has shown that a number of new SPZs are to be created which will bring reservation of this forest type over the required level. In addition, the Commonwealth will have the opportunity to participate in the public review of the FMA plan, including the sustainable yield implications of that plan. Agreement has also been reached to increase the priority of this region in the RFA timetable through the commencement of a number of CRA studies in 1996. 

Rainforest

36. Rainforest is 100% protected through formal reserves, SPZs or by codes of practice. The Commonwealth has also sought an undertaking that Victoria protect mixed forest, that is, rainforest with emergent Eucalypts. This type of forest is confined largely to the Errinundra Plateau. Some 470 ha of mixed forest has been mapped on and around the plateau, of which 63% is in existing conservation reserves. A further 7% will be protected by SPZs identified through the East Gippsland FMA plan. The remaining 30% occurs in small scattered stands and, given its rarity, the FMA plan will ensure that at least 90% is protected from timber harvesting. Other significant stands of mixed forest elsewhere in the State, such as those in the O'Shannassy catchment in the Central Highlands, are protected in the existing conservation reserve system. 

37. Protection of transitional rainforest which occurs between pure rainforest and wet eucalypt forests will be enhanced through implementation of changes to the Code of Practice. 

38. These measures address all the major recommendations of Burgman and Ferguson's report Rainforest in Victoria

Old Growth Forests

39. The Commonwealth criteria require that at least 60% of old growth be reserved, increasing up to at least 90%, and where practicable 100% for rare old growth. As for biodiversity, the Victorian DFA analyses used broad forest types in most regions but in East Gippsland and Central Highlands more detailed Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) data were used. 

40. Again, Victoria has already met this criterion in most cases. The main exception was with Lowland and Damp forest old growth in East Gippsland where reservation levels were below the Commonwealth's reserve criteria. Conservation groups raised objections to the old growth definition used in East Gippsland. 

41. On the issue of Lowland and Damp old growth, Victoria mounted a strong case for the Commonwealth to apply some degree of flexibility in how it applied the criterion. This was unable to be resolved in the DFA timeframe, but agreement has been reached that this issue will be considered by a jointly chaired Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) as a matter of priority. 

42. In the interim, agreement has been reached for Victoria to reschedule harvesting away from the Betka and Ellery catchments. In addition the Commonwealth has requested Victoria to reschedule harvesting out of the areas between the Yalmy River and the Snowy River National Park as well as the South West Stoney Peak Blocks and old growth in the northern region of the Cooagalah Block. Victoria has been requested to avoid logging those old growth patches in coupes in the Hensleigh Creek and Ferntree Creek areas. If Victoria enters a Deferred Forest Agreement on this basis, key reserve design options will be maintained and more than adequate areas deferred to enable the Commonwealth criteria to be met in the RFA. 

Wilderness

43. The wilderness assessment was carried out using the Commonwealth reserve criterion benchmark of 90% or more where practicable. This benchmark was achieved with 95% of areas identified as meeting wilderness criteria already protected in the existing reserve system and about 3% in the deferred areas. 

National Estate

44. The national estate places in East Gippsland and Central Highlands regions have been identified through joint AHC/CNR Regional Assessments conducted in 1994. For the remainder of Victoria, existing national estate areas have been identified through ad hoc nominations and assessment. 

45. The national estate values relating to old growth, wilderness and biodiversity of vegetation communities are protected to Commonwealth reserve criteria levels. Furthermore, in identifying the areas needed to meet Commonwealth biodiversity, old growth and wilderness benchmarks, inclusion of the National Estate was maximised in the selection of those areas. 

Threatened Species

46. Threatened species distributed in forested habitats have management procedures, practices and recovery plans in place which satisfy Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. 

47. Comments on the draft DFA report highlighted some apparent omissions of species and queried the adequacy of prescriptions. The omissions were considered to be non-forest species, but have been included in the final report, along with descriptions of improved protection mechanisms for a number of other species. Of particular significance, four compartments in the North East region have been set aside to protect recently discovered populations of the Long Footed Potoroo, pending more detailed surveys of those areas. 

World Heritage

48. Specific World Heritage analysis was not possible in the DFA timeframe but has been included in the RFA scoping agreement for consideration in the RFA assessments. 

Interim Resource Areas/Social-Economic Impacts

49. Due to the approach taken for the Victorian DFA, there has been very little direct impact on industry. However, rescheduling has occurred in a number of areas. ABARE has provided an analysis of the impact of this rescheduling. 

Conclusion

50. In conclusion, the Commonwealth agrees that sufficient options exist outside those areas identified as available for industry to meet the requirements of a CAR reserve system within well designed reserves, should Victoria be prepared to accept its proposals and enter into the proposed Deferred Forests and Regional Forests Scoping Agreements. 

Summary - Tasmania

51. The Interim Forest Assessment for Tasmania has identified areas needed to meet Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmarks, and areas which the Commonwealth has concluded should be put aside to enable reserve selection and design issues to be fully considered in the development of a Regional Forest Agreement. The Commonwealth has asked that these areas be deferred from harvesting for two years, or until an RFA is completed if that is earlier. 

Regions

52. Tasmania was treated as one region in applying the quantitative benchmarks and the assessments covered all land tenures. Broad biogeographical (IBRA) regions were used to assess how well a forest community was represented in reserves across its geographic range. 

53. Forests cover some 48% of Tasmania. Approximately 1 000 000 hectares (30%) of forest is State Forest managed for timber production. A further 1 000 000 hectares (30%) of forest is privately owned. The balance of Tasmania's forests is in various conservation related tenures and other Crown land. 

Biodiversity

54. The Commonwealth proposed several biodiversity criteria in its reserve criteria, one of which was a broad quantitative benchmark that of the order of 15% or more (depending on individual circumstances including extent and the level of threat) of the pre-European extent of each forest type should be protected in reserves. The Interim Forest Assessment biodiversity studies adopted reservation benchmarks of 10% (JANIS) and 15% (Commonwealth) of the pre-1750 distribution of the forest communities defined by Kirkpatrick and Brown (1991) and assessed how well these forest communities were reserved across their geographic range. The reservation levels of 36 forest communities were assessed. 

55. The assessments indicated that Tasmania retains approximately 65% of the pre-1750 forest cover. For those forest communities managed for wood production, about 78% of the original area of forest remains. Of the 36 forest communities studied, nine have less than 50% of their pre-1750 distribution remaining and 17 have more than 80% remaining. 

56. The Interim Forest Assessment showed that 11 forest communities did not meet the Commonwealth 15% benchmark, and one required additional reservation in one IBRA region. The main reason for the inability to meet the benchmark for reservation is the extent these forest communities have been cleared for agriculture, with most of the under-reserved communities existing primarily on private land. The location and extent of the seven communities that occur almost entirely on private land cannot be accurately determined. Hence the conservation needs of these forest communities will be best achieved through the existing regulatory processes (Forest Practices Code and Timber Harvesting Plans). 

57. The reservation benchmark for four of the under-reserved forest communities could be met on public land and several options for additional reservation on public land were identified within the Interim Forest Area. 

Old growth forests

58. An assessment of old growth reservation was made for each forest community using the Commonwealth old growth criteria. 

59. Fifteen of the 36 forest communities were assessed as not meeting the old growth benchmarks, requiring 58 900 ha of additional reservation to do so. Of the 1 011 620 hectares of old growth forest currently mapped in Tasmania 679 140 ha (67%) are in existing legislated and administrative reserves, and the balance is in forests managed for timber production, in other Crown land and on private land. Options, including with respect to selection and design, for the further reservation of 58 900 ha required to meet the Commonwealth old growth benchmark are available for 13 of the 15 under-represented communities with 160 000 hectares of old growth in the Interim Forest Area that Tasmania has agreed to protect. For the other two forest communities the old growth benchmarks can only be met by including old growth on private land. The old growth of these forest communities on private land is being protected through the regulatory mechanisms described above. 

Wilderness

60. The wilderness assessment was carried out using the Commonwealth's reserve criteria benchmark of 90%, or more where practicable. Preliminary high quality wilderness areas were identified using 8 000 ha as a minimum threshold. 

61. Currently 92% of high quality wilderness areas is in formal or administrative reserves and hence the minimum Commonwealth benchmark has already been met. 

62. As an additional precautionary measure, the Commonwealth has requested rescheduling of five coupes in wilderness areas to ensure there will be no logging in any high quality wilderness areas during the Interim Forest Assessment period. This would preserve the option of meeting a higher level of preservation, where practicable, in the RFA. 

National Estate

63. Careful regard was had for existing national estate areas in Tasmania in examining logging plans and proposing areas to be included in the Interim Forest Area. 

64. The national estate values relating to old growth, wilderness and biodiversity of vegetation communities are protected to Commonwealth reserve criteria levels. Furthermore, in identifying the areas needed to meet Commonwealth biodiversity, old growth and wilderness benchmarks, National Estate was included to a significant extent in the selection of those areas. 

Threatened species

65. Threatened species distributed in forested habitats have management procedures, practices and, in some cases, recovery plans in place which address the requirements of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. 

World Heritage

66. The Commonwealth undertook a parallel assessment of potential extensions to the existing World Heritage Area and compared the revised potential areas with Tasmania's Three Year Wood Production Plan (WPP) for native forests. The Commonwealth identified eight coupes that could impact on potential extensions to the existing World Heritage Area and the Commonwealth has indicated that it wishes to include five of these coupes, which were considered to have a particular priority, in the Interim Forest Area pending further joint assessment of World Heritage values during the RFA. 

Rainforest

67. Reservation levels for Tasmanian rainforest vary from 70% for non-coniferous rainforest to 100% for Pencil Pine forests. The need for further reservation of some rainforest sub-types was not examined in detail in the Interim Forest Assessment but the low level of harvesting (0.1% of non-coniferous rainforest) was considered to foreclose very few reservation options. There was not, however, an opportunity to test the full range of reserve design and selection options and accordingly the Commonwealth has requested Tasmania to reschedule three nominated coupes that may limit reserve design options for possible future rainforest reservation. 

Integration of values

68. In seeking to ensure that the proposed Tasmanian logging plan would not constrain the development of a CAR reserve system through an RFA, a layered examination of potential reserve designs to meet the Commonwealth's major benchmarks was considered. Several options were considered using reserve design criteria and choosing areas that contributed to more than one value as much as possible, including old growth, biodiversity, national estate and wilderness values. Preliminary areas of interest were identified in this way and these areas contained significantly larger areas of the various forest communities than required to meet the Commonwealth's benchmarks. They also overlapped significantly with national estate areas and areas possessing high wilderness value. 

69. The preliminary areas of interest were compared with the Three Year Wood Production Plan (WPP) for native forests. Overlaps were identified and the potential for rescheduling coupes or identifying alternative areas of interest with equal environmental value were explored, the aim being to provide an outcome which maximised conservation options and industry access to resource. Much of this recheduling has already been accomodated. There are, however, a small number of areas with respect to which the Tasmanian Government has not yet indicated its ability or willingness to avoid. 

70. Furthermore, the Interim Forest Area, which includes the preliminary areas of interest, in effect comprises the whole of the public forest with the exclusion of the areas in the Three Year WPP and areas required for minor timber getting activities. Hence there are many other options for further reservation in addition to the ones considered. 

71. The total area included in the Interim Forest Area for Tasmania is 1, 615, 000 ha. Existing reserves include 159 0000 ha of legislative reserves and 930, 000 ha of administrative reserves. A total of 37 000 ha is planned for harvesting under the Three Year WPP. 

Social-economic impacts

72. It is likely that Tasmania's wood supply commitments can be met over the Interim Forest Assessment period given that rescheduling should be possible for all the areas nominated by the Commonwealth. Hence the social or economic impacts of the Interim Forest Assessment will be minimal if any. 

Conclusion

73. In conclusion, the Commonwealth has concluded that, providing Tasmania agrees to the rescheduling of areas that it has proposed, sufficient options exist in the Inerim Forest Area to develop a CAR reserve system which would meet the Commonwealth criteria. 

Summary - Western Australia

74. The Commonwealth has concluded on the basis of the Deferred Forest Assessment report for Western Australia and the conclusions of the Scientific Advisory Group that, besides the minimum high priority identified areas needed to meet Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmarks identified in the Report, areas should be put aside to enable reserve selection and design issues to be considered fully in the development of a Regional Forest Agreement. The Commonwealth has concluded that this is best achieved by precluding logging in the National Estate over the period of the DFA. Accordingly, the Commonwealth has asked that these areas be deferred from harvesting for two years, or until an RFA is completed if that is earlier. 

Region

75. The DFA boundary in Western Australia is the area known as the south west forest region, covering the forest management regions of Swan, Central and Southern Forests. The assessments covered all tenures to determine the pre-1750 baseline distribution and current distribution but did not include private property for estimates of distribution of old growth forest. 

76. Forests cover some 2.1M hectares (0.1%) of Western Australia. Approximately 64% of the publicly owned native forest is managed for timber production. The balance is in a variety of nature conservation tenures. 

Biodiversity

77. The Commonwealth proposed several biodiversity criteria in its reserve criteria, one of which was a broad quantitative benchmark that of the order of 15% or more (depending on individual circumstances including extent and the level of threat) of the pre-European extent of each forest type should be protected in reserves. In the preparation of this report, the reservation level of two broad forest type groups - jarrah and karri - was assessed against estimates the pre-1750 distribution of these forest communities by Beard (1981) for jarrah and Bradshaw and Lush (1981) for karri. The jarrah forest was sub-divided into four sub-regions ie north and south of the Preston River, further split into high and low rainfall zones. 

78. Reservation levels of other forest types were not determined in the DFA because no pre-1750 mapping was available. The extent of harvesting of these types was assessed and it was concluded that the extent of harvesting was minimal and ensured that options for reservation would not be foreclosed pending finalisation of a RFA. 

79. The biodiversity assessments indicate that, of the harvested species,Western Australia retains approximately 72% of pre-1750 distribution (jarrah 71% and karri 82%). 

80. Both these broad forest types met the Commonwealth's benchmark of 15% overall reservation in formal reserves. The sub regional analysis showed that the area of jarrah forest in formal reserves was reasonably well represented across its geographic range, the lowest level of reservation being in the northern high rainfall zone. Following the recommendations of the Commonwealth Scientific Advisory Group, least reserved jarrah vegetation complexes in the north were assessed for extent of intersection with logging plans over the DFA period. Ninety four to one hundred per cent of these communities would be available for reserves if required at the conclusion of a RFA. 

81. An additional reservation analysis was conducted in the Southern Forest Region for four forest community types (karri, mixed karri, jarrah and mixed jarrah). All four communities were well represented in the formal reserve system across the region. 

Old growth forests

82. An assessment of old growth reservation was made for north and south jarrah forest types and karri forest type using the Commonwealth old growth criteria. 

83. In the southern region, some of the larger road, river and stream informal reserves were included in the old growth assessments. The Commonwealth Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) accredited these individual informal reserves where they demonstrated special significance such as linkages, fauna habitat, protection of communities or heterogeneity and added to the representativeness of the formal reserve system. The assessment of informal reserves will be refined in the light of additional information gathered during the CRA. 

84. In the southern region deficits of 1,080 ha of old growth karri and 28,190 hectares of old growth jarrah was identified in relation to the Commonwealth's 60% benchmark. Old growth sufficient to meet this deficit has been identified in a number of National Estate sub-areas. These sub areas would be incorporated in the Commonwealth's proposed area to be excluded from harvesting. They are identified in the mapping associated with this report and would form a high priority for further consideration for addition to formal reserves. These areas would enhance the representative distribution of reserved old growth in the southern forest. 

85. In the northern region, given past land use history, the only options for old growth reservation in meeting the Commonwealth's benchmark were the informal reserves with the exception of the narrow stream reserves. 

86. In the northern region, old growth jarrah is rare (5% of existing forest), hence at least 90% was required to meet Commonwealth benchmarks. 5,700 hectares of old growth jarrah was identified to meet the 90% minimum. This does not intersect with areas planned for logging in the short run. 

87. The 5,700 ha area of old growth has been deferred pending finalisation of a RFA. 

Wilderness

88. The wilderness assessment was carried out using the Commonwealth reserve criteria benchmark of 90% or more where practicable of high quality wilderness exceeding the national minimum threshold level of 8000 hectares. 

89. No wilderness areas within the forest zone were identified which met this threshold. The largest areas of high wilderness quality are all already in reserves. 

National estate

90. The National Estate places in the Southern Forests Region of Western Australia have been identified through a joint AHC/CALM Regional Assessment conducted in 1992. For the remainder of the DFA region, ie Central and Swan regions, existing national estate areas have been identified through ad hoc nomination and assessment. 

91. The national estate values relating to old growth forest, wilderness and biodiversity of vegetation communities will be fully protected for the period of the DFA, and in turn will enable the Commonwealth to meet its reserve criteria levels, if the State enters into the Agreement proposed by the Commonwealth. 

92. The Western Australian Government has given an undertaking not to log in places in the Register or Interim List of the National Estate during 1996. The Commonwealth has requested that WA extend this undertaking to preclude logging of National Estate places, including the Jane and Giblett blocks and the excision within the Sharp block, until the end of 1997 or until an RFA is completed if that is earlier. In this way the full suite of National Estate values, as well as old growth necessary to meet the Commonwealth's minimum standards and reserve design options, will be fully protected. 

Threatened species

93. Threatened species distributed in forested habitats have management procedures, practices and recovery plans in place which address the requirements of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. 

Social and economic impacts

94. In the southern forest region, there will be minimal social or economic impacts of the DFA given that rescheduling has been possible and there has been no removal of resource (in quality or quantity). The DFA identified in the northern region is outside current planned harvesting areas and hence there will be no rescheduling required or social or economic impacts in that region.

 
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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