Image for ‘Ministerial documents reveal Commonwealth concerns about ‘old science’ ...

... and ‘validity’ of forest agreements’

The Federal Government is staring down the prospect of legal challenges to a series of forest agreements allowing logging in native forests across Australia.

The Commonwealth is concerned the science underpinning Regional Forestry Agreements (RFAs) in four states is “now quite old” and may no longer “remain valid”, documents obtained by the ABC reveal.

But the documents show a deal has been done with the states to “modernise” the RFAs, without doing any new science or “comprehensive regional assessments” where the logging is occurring.

Part of the reason outlined in the documents is that new assessments will be too “costly”.

A meeting brief prepared for NSW Lands and Forestry Minister Paul Toole for an August 30, 2017 meeting of Commonwealth forestry ministers in Tasmania reads:

“The Commonwealth is concerned that significantly altering existing RFAs may invite challenges to their validity, in the absence of new — and costly — Comprehensive Regional Assessments.

“Its preference is to extend the existing agreements. It is in both parties’ interests to avoid the need to revisit the costly CRA process …”

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