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1Department of Ecosystem Management, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351.

Public reaction to pressure from forest management agencies to intensify hardwood production methods and convert limited remaining oldgrowth and natural forests to tree farms, as a solution to declining wood availability, shrinking market share and increasing operational deficits, is escalating conflict within the timber industry. Forest policies developed in Victoria in the mid 1980’s in response to this conflict set new standards in the ecologically sustainable utilization of forests for timber and non timber values. The intent of these policies has, however, been largely circumvented by loopholes in policy instrumentalities and limited management action. Key actions which need to be taken to rectify current problems include the following:

  1. broadening the narrow perspective of policy formulators, which currently promotes rather than resolves conflict by failing to give adequate attention to non-timber perspectives at all stages of the policy process, from problem definition to coupe planning;

  2. reversing an apparent overcommitment of timber resources to industry under long-term legal supply agreements and licences, which is pre-empting management decisions and precluding introduction of ecologically sustainable management practices;

  3. increasing royalties, and improving development of value adding opportunities to overcome apparent operational deficits which are preventing the implementation of forest management practices to standards expected by the public;

  4. improving definition of minimal acceptable standards and tolerance limits for environmental damage caused by timber harvesting, to prevent the conversion of natural forests to tree farms by intensification of harvesting practice.

With inclusion of these modifications, forest policy in Victoria will have much to offer as a foundation for conflict resolution and ecologically sustainable development throughout Australia.

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