Following the 2019–20 bushfires, the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments agreed to undertake a Major Event Review to assess the impacts of the fires and identify if future remedial actions need to be taken.

The Major Event Review was overseen by an independent Panel and informed by science, Traditional Owner knowledge and public consultation.

The review assessed the impacts of the bushfires on environmental, economic, social and cultural values to identify if remedial actions need to be taken.

The Major Event Review activates an appropriate and robust response to major events which impact our forests such as the significant 2019–20 bushfires.

Why didn't the panel reach any findings about Harvest Levels?

As part of the sustainable management of Victoria’s forests, Victorian RFAs commit Victoria to forecast and publish the Harvest Level from State forests at agreed intervals or in response to Major Events.

A review of the harvest level was undertaken following the 2019–20 bushfires as this was agreed by the Victorian and Australian Governments to be a Major Event. Bushfire impacts were built into the Harvest Level modelling process.

Data that informed the Harvest Level Review was shared with the Major Event Review Panel. The Panel elected not to undertake analysis or reach findings on this matter that was being concurrently reviewed by the Victorian Government.

View the Harvest Level Review final report.

In May 2023 the Victorian Government announced native timber harvesting in state forests would end in 2024.

Key materials related to the Major Event Review

To give effect to the Major Event Review a Scoping Agreement between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments was signed.

Scoping agreement

Major Event Review Scoping Agreement(PDF, 4.3 MB)

Major Event Review Scoping Agreement(DOCX, 72.3 KB)

The Summary Report is a document jointly prepared by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments that outlines the impacts of the 2019–20 bushfires on the RFAs, based on existing information. The Summary Report was provided for public comment between 11 June and 31 August 2021. The submission period is now closed.

Summary report

Major Event Review Summary Report(PDF, 1.7 MB)

Major Event Review Summary Report(DOCX, 2.3 MB)

The Major Event Review of Victoria’s Regional Forest Agreements feedback report is available on Engage Victoria.

The independent Panel has considered this feedback and other information from its consultations in its final report to Governments.

Independent Panel’s consultation process

The Major Event Review Independent Panel held community-focused consultation sessions and targeted engagement with stakeholders and Traditional Owners from August to October 2021. The Panel’s engagement period has now closed.

Major Event Review Panel report

The Panel has now completed its deliberations and submitted its final report to the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments.

Panel report

Major Event Review Report (PDF 32.4 MB)

Major Event Review Report (DOCX 55.4 MB)

Major Event Review next steps

The report is under consideration. In line with the Scoping Agreement for the Major Event Review, the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments will determine an agreed approach to responding to the recommendations in the report.

What is the Major Event Review?

  • The Major Event Review is a feature of the modernised RFAs agreed between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments in March 2020.
  • It enables the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to undertake a joint review to assess the impacts of major events, such as bushfire, flood and disease, in relation to the objectives and operation of the RFAs.
  • A Major Event Review includes assessment of the impacts of a major event and identification of remedial actions. A Major Event Review is overseen by an independent Panel and informed by science, Traditional Owner knowledge and public consultation.

Why do we need a Major Event Review?

  • Understanding the wider impacts of the 2019–20 bushfires on Aboriginal Victorians and Traditional Owners, communities, plants, animals, ecosystems, businesses and infrastructure is a high priority of implementing Victoria’s RFAs.
  • The 2019–20 fires were exceptional in size and impact burning approximately 1.5 million hectares across Victoria
  • Around 1.3 million ha (18%) of Victoria’s public native forest was impacted
  • Approximately 78% of the remaining Warm Temperate Rainforest in Victoria was within the fire extent
  • Over 50% of the likely state-wide habitat of 244 species of plants and animals was affected, 215 of which are rare or threatened species; and
  • over 1,000 registered Aboriginal heritage places are within the fire affected areas*.

Who carried out the Major Event Review?

The Major Event Review Independent Panel comprises:

  • Dr Gillian Sparkes, the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability since 2014. Dr Sparkes 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.
  • Ms Katherine Mullett is a proud Gunaikurnai, Ngarigo Monero woman with a strong background in Cultural Heritage Management and Land Management, spanning over 10 years. Ms Mullett works as the Parks Victoria Aboriginal Heritage Coordinator East Region heritage officer, and 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.
  • Dr Tony Bartlett is an experienced forester and has worked in Australian and international forestry for 45 years. Dr Bartlett is the Managing Director of Bartlett Forestry Consulting Pty Ltd. Dr Bartlett has been responsible for the development of sustainable forest management practices and forest policy initiatives and has managed a commercial plantation business.

How were people able to contribute to the Major Event Review?

The public consultation and contributions to the Major Event Review have now finished.

Victorians were invited to contribute via Engage Victoria, and direct conversations with the panel.

If you have any questions about the Major Event Review or would like to receive updates, you can contact Forest Policy at DEECA, on

Will the Major Event Review open up the RFAs for renegotiation?

As outlined in the Major Event Review Scoping Agreement, the review will not open the RFAs for renegotiation. The review considers and makes recommendations on what, if any, remedial actions needs to be taken to address the impact of the 2019–20 bushfires in relation to Regional Forest Agreements.

This may include improvements to be made to Victoria’s forest management system.

Will the Major Event Review affect the Victorian Forestry Plan and the end of timber harvesting in 2024?

The Victorian Government is continuing to implement the Forestry Transition Program, which will see native timber harvesting phased out in 2024.

How is the Major Event Review different from other inquiries following the 2019/20 bushfires?

The Major Event Review is the only review looking at the impacts of the 2019/20 fires on Victoria’s forests and the operation of our Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).

The Regional Forest Agreements include commitments about threatened species and vegetation types, forest industries, Traditional Owner values and a range of other important forest matters.

The Major Event Review Panel report recommends what actions the Victorian and Australian Governments should take to address the impact of the 2019/20 bushfires on these values.

Other inquiries, including the Inspector General for Emergency Management (IGEM) bushfire inquiry and the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements focused on understanding the bushfire impact more broadly and the response from agencies and community.

What information did the Victorian and Australian Governments provide to the Panel to support its work?

The Victorian and Australian Governments provided a range of detailed information to the Panel to support its deliberations over a period of more than six months. The Parties responded to more than 200 information requests from the Panel for additional data and information, which covered the full range of RFA matters to be considered.

What changes to forest management in Victoria will result from the Major Event Review?

The Panel’s report and 37 recommendations provides direction to the Victorian and Australian Governments across a range of forest management matters. Some key themes for improvements to how we manage Victorian forests are:

  • active forest management and forest resilience to repeated high intensity bushfires
  • outcomes for Traditional Owners through empowered active involvement in forest management
  • research, data, and information on RFA values and bushfire impacts
  • preparation for future Major Event Reviews.

The Parties will undertake detailed planning to act on the Panel’s recommendations, seeking to integrate this work with existing forest management initiatives and Victorian RFA commitments. Any initiatives will be subject to funding availability.

If the impacts of the bushfires have been significant, why is timber harvesting still permitted?

The Victorian Government is continuing to implement the Victorian Forestry Plan, which will see native timber harvesting phased out by 2030.

The Victorian Government will continue to implement our Regional Forest Agreements and protect our unique natural environment while supporting the timber industry to transition to a plantation-based timber supply.

While the Major Event Review has been underway environmental protections in the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 and the Management Standards and Procedures for Timber Harvesting Operations in Victoria’s State forests 2014 have continued to apply.

Existing rules protect threatened species and forest values and require a cautious approach in situations of scientific uncertainty through application of the precautionary principle.

How will the Major Event Review help the environment following the 2019–20 bushfires?

The Major Event Review report recommendations build on actions immediately started by the Victorian Government after the fires.

The Victorian Government committed $51.5 million to assist in the recovery of plants and animals in bushfire-affected areas. You can find more information about these initiatives at Victoria’s bushfire emergency: Biodiversity response and recovery.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has worked alongside species experts, academics, and land managers to implement a range of short and long-term actions for fire-affected species and habitats.

Additionally, the Victorian Government continues to implement RFA commitments agreed to under the modernised RFAs in 2020 that strengthen protections for the environment. This includes a risk assessment for threatened species and communities potentially affected by forestry operations an interim protections and management actions.

In 2020, risks were assessed for 70 threatened species and nine threatened ecological communities. Interim measures to protect 32 threatened species and communities also respond to the impacts of the 2019–20 bushfires and threats to Victoria’s biodiversity by safeguarding key ecological areas and taking action to protect the habitat of threatened, species including the Greater Glider, Powerful Owl and Giant Burrowing Frog. The measures include prohibiting or limiting timber harvesting in East Gippsland and Gippsland, strategies to build greater climate change resilience and enhanced pest management programs.

The report on interim protections is available from the Threatened Species and Communities Risk Assessment page.

The Major Event Review panel makes 37 recommendations, many of which focus on the environmental values of Victorian forests. These recommendations will be fully considered and integrated with the Victorian and Australian Governments existing programs to support the health and resilience of Victorian forests.

Has the Major Event Review considered Traditional Owner perspectives and knowledge?

Victoria’s Traditional Owners have much to contribute when it comes to our ongoing management of the land. Modernised Regional Forest Agreements recognise the unique ability of Traditional Owners to care for Country and include commitments to work with Traditional Owners to do this.

Traditional Owners have played an important part in the Major Event Review and many of the Panel’s recommendations seek to empower all Traditional Owners in forest management and improve outcomes for Traditional Owner values related to land and forests.

The Victorian Government supports the rights of Traditional Owners to determine activities that occur on their Country, consistent with and reflected in DELWP’s Aboriginal Inclusion Plan ‘Munganin Gadhaba’ and Parks Victoria’s ‘Managing Country Together Framework’.

Page last updated: 29/12/23