New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements

​​​​​The New South Wales (NSW) Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) provide for sustainable forest management, certainty of access to resources for the renewable forestry industry, and a comprehensive conservation reserve network.

The NSW RFAs are long-term bilateral agreements that strike a balance between the environmental, social and economic uses of our forests.

The three NSW RFAs were signed by the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth of Australia (the Parties) on:

Extending the NSW RFAs

The Australian and NSW governments have extended the NSW RFAs by 20 years as it has proven to be a strong and effective framework for the sustainable management of NSW RFA region forests.

The NSW RFA extensions were formalised on 28 November 2018 following assessment, public consultation, independent review and consideration.

The NSW RFAs now have a 20-year rolling life, so at any point in time the NSW RFAs will be between 15 and 20 years from expiring, depending on the satisfactory completion of the five-yearly reviews.

The NSW RFAs established a long term framework for the management and use of New South Wales major forested regions to implement effective forest conservation, forest management and forest industry practices. The purpose of the NSW RFAs is to provide:

  • a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) reserve system and provide for the conservation of those areas
  • for the ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM) and use of forests
  • long-term stability of forests and forest-based industries.

The NSW RFAs offer a modernised approach to forest management, through greater transparency, outcomes-focused reporting and long-term sustainability of a renewable industry.

Extending the Eden RFA gives long-term surety of resource access for industry, ecologically sustainable management and use of forested areas and an extensive system of conservation reserves.

What's changed?

The renewed NSW RFAs deliver a number of improvements:

  • 20 year extensions to the agreements
  • rolling five-year extensions, subject to satisfactory performance and review
  • a more outcomes focused five-yearly review process
  • align five-yearly reporting obligations between NSW RFA regions, with other national reporting obligations
  • strengthened communication between the Australian and NSW governments
  • specific clauses referring to climate change and matters of national environmental significance in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) have been included

Importantly, the objectives of the NSW RFAs have not changed. The comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system will continue, certainty of resource access and supply to industry will be maintained; as well as ecologically sustainable forest management for areas outside of reserves.

The NSW RFAs are implemented through the NSW Forest Management Framework and based on the principles of ecologically sustainable forest management. The Framework includes relevant forestry, environmental and heritage legislation, regulations, policies and programs.

Consultation

During late 2017 and early 2018, the NSW and Australian governments consulted with community and stakeholders on the renewal of the NSW RFAs.

The NSW RFA renewal process was run concurrently with a review process, which provided stakeholders with a full picture on how the agreements have performed and what can be learned from the experience over the past 20 years.

Stakeholders had three opportunities to provide feedback on the renewal of the NSW RFAs:

  • Comment was invited on the renewal of the NSW RFAs as part of the combined second and third five-yearly review of the NSW RFAs, which was released on 18 December 2017
  • Comment was sought through the regional stakeholder engagement process from 18 December 2017 until 12 March 2018 and included face-to-face consultations
  • Submissions were invited through the NSW Governments Have Your Say online forum.

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Renewing NSW Regional Forest Agreements - Consultation Summary PDF37675 KB

This report may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. The report has not been prepared by the department.

For further information on the consultation process and the NSW Forest Management Framework, visit the New South Wales Government Department of Primary Industries – Forestry website​.

Assessment of RFA matters

To inform the renewal and extension of the NSW RFAs, the Australian and NSW governments undertook a further assessment of forest-related environmental, social and economic values in the NSW RFA regions.

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NSW Regional Forest Agreements - Assessment of matters pertaining to renewal of Regional Forest Agreements PDF5059.5 MB

This report may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. The report has not been prepared by the department.

New South Wales RFA five-yearly reviews

It is a requirement of the NSW RFAs that its performance is reviewed every five years. The details of the NSW RFA review process is outlined in each agreement:

  • extent to which milestones and obligations have been met, through a more outcomes focused review process
  • results of monitoring the sustainability indicators
  • inviting public comments on the performance of the RFAs.

The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority provides further details on the RFA reviews.

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Combined second and third five-yearly review (2004-2014)

The purpose of the review is to assess progress against the milestones and commitments in the NSW Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) for the reporting period 2004-2014.

This covers the:

  • second five-yearly review period (2004-2009)
  • third five-yearly review period (2009-2014).

Scoping Agreement

The NSW RFAs combined second and third five-yearly review formally commenced in December 2016 with the signing of the Scoping Agreement for the review of progress with implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements: Second and Third Five-Yearly Review. The scoping agreement sets out the arrangements agreed by the Australian and NSW governments for undertaking the review of the three NSW RFAs simultaneously.

Implementation Report

In accordance with the scoping agreement, the Australian and NSW governments have prepared A report on progress with implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements: Second and third five-yearly reviews July 2004 – June 2014. The report details the extent to which milestones, obligations and commitments in the NSW RFAs have been met for the reporting period 2004-2014. It also provides an update on the Australian and NSW governments’ responses to the recommendations from the first five yearly review and a review of sustainability indicators.

Public consultation period

As part of the review process, members of the public had an opportunity to comment on A report on progress with implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements: Second and third five-yearly reviews July 2004 – June 2014 from 18 December 2017 to 23 February 2018.

For further information on the review process, visit the RFA review page of the NSW Environment Protection Authority website.

Independent Reviewer's report

The Australian and New South Wales governments appointed Mr Ewan Waller of Victoria as the independent reviewer to consider A report on progress with implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements: Second and third five-yearly reviews July 2004 – June 2014 and all public submissions received during the public consultation period. The Independent Reviewer’s report was tabled in the Parliament of Australia on 25 June 2018.

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Independent review of the report on progress with the implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements for the second and third five-yearly reviews 2004-2014 PDF2621.4 MB

This report may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. The report has not been prepared by the department.

The Independent Reviewer’s report contains 16 recommendations to the Australian and NSW governments. The Australian and NSW governments prepared a Joint Government Response to the 16 recommendations.

Joint Government Response

The Australian and New South Wales governments responded to the Independent Reviewer’s 16 recommendations in the Joint Australian and New South Wales government response to the Independent review of the report on progress with implementation of the NSW Regional Forest Agreements for the second and third five yearly reviews 2004 – 2014. The report was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 17 December 2018.

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Joint Australian and New South Wales government response to the Independent review of the report on progress with implementation of the NSW Regional Forest Agreements for the second and third five yearly reviews 2004 – 2014 PDF 

17

462 KB

This report may not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. The report has not been prepared by the department.

First five-yearly review (1999-2004)

The purpose of the review was to assess progress against the milestones and commitments in the New South Wales RFAs, for the reporting period 1999-2004.

Scoping Agreement

New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments, 2008

The first five-yearly review of the New South Wales RFAs formally commenced in February 2008 with the signing of the Scoping Agreement. The Scoping Agreement set out the arrangements agreed by the New South Wales and Australian governments for undertaking the review.

The Scoping Agreement provides that the three NSW RFAs will be reviewed simultaneously. The review covers the first period from the date the RFAs were signed for the ensuing five years, i.e. 1999-2004 for the Eden RFA, 2000-2005 for the North East RFA and 2001-2006 for the Southern RFA.

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First Review of Progress with Implementation of the NSW Regional Forest Agreements – Scoping Agreement PDF21194 KB

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Report on Progress and public consultation period

Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW, 2009

In accordance with the Scoping Agreement, a report on progress in implementing the three New South Wales RFAs has been prepared by the New South Wales and Australian governments.

Stakeholders and members of the community had the opportunity to comment on the Report on Progress, from Tuesday 23 June 2009 to Monday 7 September 2009. The commencement of the public submission period was marked by a joint media release by the Hon. Tony Burke MP and the Hon. Carmel Tebbutt MP, and public notices in Sydney and regional newspapers in the first week of July 2009.

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Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) North East RFA, Eden RFA, Southern RFA (May 2009) PDF2692.3 MB

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Publicly available submissions

During the review process, 32 submissions were received commenting on the Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). Eighteen of the submitters granted permission to have their submissions made publicly available on this website.

To promote equitable access to the public submissions, they may have been re-formatted to allow electronic screen readers to view them. This may have resulted in changes to the appearance of some submissions. Original submissions received by the governments were provided to the Independent Assessor.

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Anonymous 1 PDF243 KB
Anonymous 2 PDF17724 KB
South East Forest Rescue PDF52724 KB
J. L. O. Tedder PDF11.1 MB
Ourimbah Community Inc PDF161 KB
Skye Etherington PDF266 KB
Lorraine Bower PDF31.1 MB
Friends of the Five Forests PDF21503 KB
Vince Phillips PDF437 KB
Terrence Digwood PDF34428 KB
Canopy Native Forest Committee Total Environment Centre PDF354 KB
Peter Mitchell PDF270 KB
Colong Foundation PDF7107 KB
NSW Young Lawyers' Environmental Law Committee PDF19174 KB
Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) PDF91.1 MB
South East Region Conservation Alliance PDF7361 KB
Coastwatchers Association PDF5144 KB
Matthew Sparks PDF7189 KB

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Independent Assessor’s report

Independent Assessor, 2009

An Independent Assessor was appointed to review the Draft Report on Progress with Implementation of the New South Wales Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) as well as the 32 public submissions received as part of the review. In November 2009, the Independent Assessor provided to the governments a final report, which includes a summary of issues raised in all of the public submissions.

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Final Report on Progress with Implementation of NSW Regional Forest Agreements: Report of Independent Assessor PDF68444 KB
Final Report on Progress with Implementation of NSW Regional Forest Agreements: Report of Independent Assessor DOCX68526 KB

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Download attachments to the Independent Assessor’s report

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Map 1 – Upper North East NSW Region PDF11.3 MB
Map 2 – North East Region PDF11.3 MB
Map 3 – Southern NSW PDF11.3 MB
Map 4 – Eden PDF1952 KB

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On 15 March 2010, the Independent Assessor’s report was tabled in the Australian Parliament. As a consequence of the review, the Independent Assessor provided 18 recommendations for the Australian and New South Wales governments to consider in the ongoing implementation of the three RFAs.

Joint Government response to the Independent Assessor’s report

Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, 2014

The New South Wales and Australian governments produced a Joint Government response to the Independent Assessor’s report.

On 30 October 2014, the Joint Government response was tabled in the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament. This formally concludes the review process.

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Joint Australian and New South Wales Government Response to the Final Report on Progress with Implementation of NSW Regional Forest Agreements: Report of Independent Assessor PDF522.2 MB
Joint Australian and New South Wales Government Response to the Final Report on Progress with Implementation of NSW Regional Forest Agreements: Report of Independent Assessor DOCX52508 KB

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New South Wales RFAs: state-wide historical publications

Many historical publications informed the development of the three Regional Forest Agreements in New South Wales. The following list of state-wide historical publications supplement the comprehensive list of historical publications available for the New South Wales Eden, North East and Southern Regional Forest Agreements.

State-wide historical publications

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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