Joint Victorian and Australian Government Consultation on Modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs)

Environment, industry, and recreation groups, local government, metropolitan and regional Victorians participated in consultation from 3 May – 7 July 2019 which included 47 face-to-face events held across regional Victoria and in Melbourne, and an online survey and submission process.

135 written submissions and 733 survey responses were received, and more than 330 people participated in face to face discussions and drop-in sessions.

Further detail around modernisation of the RFAs, the consultation structure and process, and broader forest management reforms underway in Victoria is provided in the message from the Joint Victorian and Australian Government RFA Working Group (PDF, 245.8 KB).

A creek winds through lush green rainforest

Data from the state-wide public consultation has been analysed and the Independent Report on Joint Consultation on Modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (PDF, 1.9 MB) produced by Converlens.

Read How modernised Victorian RFAs address consultation feedback here (PDF, 261.1 KB). Accessible version here (DOCX, 53.7 KB).

You can also access this at:

Independent regional reports of input and discussion at engagement events have been prepared by Cloud Catcher, the consultancy who facilitated the face to face engagement activities. These are published below.

Written submissions are published, with the exception being those whose authors chose to opt-out from making their submission public.

Should you require an accessible version of any of these documents, please contact the DELWP Customer Service Centre on 136186 or email us.

Learn more about the modernised Regional Forest Agreements here.

FAQs: Community Input and Consultation

Extensive state-wide community consultation was conducted by the Victorian and Australian Governments.

This included:

  • an online survey (733 participants),
  • public submission process (135 submissions received), and
  • 47 face-to-face engagement events in regional Victoria and Melbourne including stakeholder workshops, meetings and community drop-in sessions.

Through these processes we heard that overall Victorians believe biodiversity, flora and fauna and old growth forest should be protected. Participants recognised the many benefits and uses of Victoria’s forests, including environmental and economic, and supported a transition to plantation timber supply and as well as the ongoing development of other emerging industries such as carbon sequestration and tourism.

This feedback is reflected in the modernised RFAs.

Consultation activity was structured around the Independent Consultation Paper ‘Modernising the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements’ developed by Dr William Jackson which provided information about what the Victorian RFAs are, how they operate, how effective they have been and recommended areas for improvement to the Victorian RFAs.

Participation was open to all Victorians.  

Consultation was designed to elicit the views Victorians on how the RFAs could be improved.

This included environment groups, industry groups, recreational groups, local government and members of the community who wanted to have their say. Participation was conducted face-to-face in the regions and in Melbourne, along with an online survey and submission process via Engage Victoria.

State and Federal Government representatives from the RFA Joint Government Working Group were present at all face to face engagement events which were facilitated by independent facilitators, Cloud Catcher and the subsequent regional reports were produced by Cloud Catcher.

The Victorian and Australian Governments also engaged Converlens (a qualitative data analysis company specialising in consultation processes) to collate and analyse the input received via all engagement activities - the online survey, written submissions and face-to-face engagement – and produce the consultation report.

Converlens has produced The Independent Report on Joint Victorian and Australian Government Consultation on Modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) (PDF, 1.9 MB) which reflects the views and responses received from those who participated in the engagement opportunities offered. The report identifies the issues, themes and topics of importance raised in responses from consultation participants.

Face to face events were independently facilitated, data gathered from all engagement activity was independently analysed and detailed reports were independently produced and are available via the links above.

Most of the 135 written submissions received have been published on the DELWP website the exception being those where authors chose to opt-out from sharing their submission.

Regional Forest Agreements FAQ

Victoria’s five Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) provide a robust framework for sustainable, active and adaptive management of Victoria’s forests for all uses and benefits including cultural, social, recreational, environmental, and economic.

Through the RFAs, the Commonwealth Government accredits Victoria’s forest management system. As a result, timber harvesting operations done in accordance with a relevant RFA are not subject to certain Commonwealth legislative requirements.

This streamlines regulatory processes for the timber industry. The modernised RFAs will provide these benefits over the next 10 years while Victoria phases out native logging as per the Victorian Forestry Plan.

RFAs remain the most effective mechanism available to achieve these aims and support the transition from native timber harvesting to plantations by 2030.

The existing RFAs were agreed more than 20 years ago and a lot has changed since then. The upcoming expiry of these RFAs on 31 March 2020 was a catalyst to review and update the agreements in line with the current context, including contemporary community values and science and to recognise the challenges of climate change.

The Victorian Government has invested $17.6 million in forest management reform which includes the modernisation of Victoria’s RFAs. This has resulted in significant improvements to our RFAs which bolsters protection for Victoria’s unique forest biodiversity and threatened species.

As the RFAs are intergovernmental agreements, the modernisation process, beginning in 2018, involved detailed negotiations between the Victorian and Australian Governments.

The RFAs have been informed by independent expert advice, assessments of all forest values and new research, contemporary community values, and insights from Traditional Owners.

Two independent advisory committees – a Scientific Advisory Panel of scientific experts and RFA Reference Group representing key stakeholders – were established and provided advice on potential improvements to the RFAs.

The Scientific Advisory Panel, established by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), comprised independent scientific experts who provided advice and recommendations to the Victorian Government on improvements to Victoria’s Regional Forest Agreements and forest management system.

Members of the Panel were:

  • Dr Sandra Brizga (Chairperson)
  • Dr John Raison (Deputy Chairperson)
  • Professor David Lindenmayer
  • Dr Lyndall Bull (since resigned from panel due to other commitments)
  • Associate Professor Lauren Bennett
  • Dr David Cheal

The Panel’s report of advice is located here .

The RFA Reference Group represented a diverse range of community interests including Traditional Owners, environment, industry, and recreational forest users. The Reference Group’s report of advice is available here .

Page last updated: 01/04/20