The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has completed a risk assessment for threatened species and communities potentially affected by forestry operations across Victoria’s five Regional Forest Agreement (RFAs) regions. This is a new requirement in Victoria’s modernised RFAs which were amended in March 2020 to include a number of new mechanisms for strengthened environmental protections.
The risk assessment will support the identification of timely measures to protect threatened species and communities. The initial focus for these measures will be for threatened species and communities where the assessment has identified a risk of serious or irreversible environmental damage over the short term if additional action is not taken.
The risk assessment follows a substantial body of work, including surveys, research, mapping, and modelling of forest values undertaken as the basis for renewing the RFAs. The risk assessment also considered the initial assessments of the impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires in eastern Victoria on the habitat of threatened species and the extent and condition of ecological communities.
Summary of findings
Risks were assessed for 79 items, including 70 threatened species and nine threatened ecological communities. The assessment found that the hazards that pose the greatest risk are:
- pest plants and animals (60 species and communities); and
- inappropriate fire regimes (55 species and communities).
Climate change (increased drought and extreme weather events) posed a significant or high risk to 48 species and communities, while forestry operations posed a significant or high risk to 23 species. Forestry operations were identified as a significant or high risk predominantly in bushfire-affected regions.
Roading and strategic fuelbreaks were identified as a significant or high risk for 10 species and communities, while bushfire management (including suppression and fuel management) also posed a significant or high risk for 10 species and communities.
This work builds upon existing protections for our forest-dependent threatened species and communities. It supports the Victorian forest management system to deliver on key objectives of the RFAs: the conservation and recovery of threatened species and communities and the ecologically sustainable management of Victoria’s forests. The risk assessment broadly identifies the major sources of risk and provides pathways for the development of specific, targeted measures, if required, by April 2021.
Independent experts conducted a review of the methods used in the risk assessment. The independent review verified the approach used and ensured the methods met the requirements as outlined within the RFAs. Experts provided feedback and suggested improvements to the process for future assessments. The independent experts were:
- John Woinarski – Professor, Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (Charles Darwin University)
- Matt Dell – Senior Consultant Botanist, Dell Botany; and member of Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee
- Michelle Casanova – Principal, Charophyte Services; Research Associate, New York Botanical Gardens; Research Associate, Natural History Museum (London); Research Associate, Royal Botanical Gardens (Melbourne); Deputy Chair, Glenelg Hopkins CMA; and convenor of Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee
The recommendations from this review will inform a revision of the methods for future risk assessments in 2021.
Page last updated: 23/12/20