Social assessment in the Australian forest sector

Fenton, D.M., and Coakes, S. (2001) Social assessment in the Australian forest sector. In: Dale, A., Taylor, N., and Lane, M, (eds.) Social Assessment in Natural Resource Management Institutions. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria, pp. 255-264.

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[Extract] In Australia during the 1970s and 1980s, considerable conflict and debate emerged in relation to the use and management of Australia's native forests. In response, and in order to provide for the better management of native forests now and into the future, a strategy known as the National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) was developed (Commonwealth of Australia 1992).The NFPS was a strategy for the management of native forests in Australia. It was developed jointly through the participation of Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, the Australian Forestry Council, the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council, the Australian Local Government Association, unions, industry representatives, conservation organisations, and the general community.

The NFPS established processes for undertaking joint Commonwealth and State comprehensive regional assessments of the natural, cultural, economic, and social values of forests. These assessments formed the basis for the negotiation of Regional Forest Agreements (RF As) between the Australian Commonwealth and State governments. RF As represent 20-year agreements about use and management of native forests across Australia.

The consideration of social issues, as part of the comprehensive regional assessment process, was critical in what had become an emotive and heated debate over the use of Australia's forests. The establishment of a unit, the Social Assessment Unit, at the Commonwealth government level to address social issues was a major development. It occurred within a very traditional resource management portfolio. From a social assessment perspective, the RFA process, and the process of undertaking a comprehensive regional social assessment, provided a means to inform and educate people about the role of social science in an area that had traditionally been the domain of natural scientists and policy makers. More importantly, the process provided stakeholders and local communities with the opportunity to have a voice in the development of forest policy in their regions Australia-wide.

We begin this chapter with a discussion of the nature of government and changes that have occurred in government decision-making relating to the development of forest policy. We provide an overview of the RF A process and describe the background to the establishment of the Social Assessment Unit. We also outline some of the issues that have arisen in attempting to institutionalise social assessment within a traditionally natural science agency at a Commonwealth government level.

Item ID: 14333
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-643-06558-1
Keywords: forestry sciences; human ecology; land conservation; social change
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2017 22:24
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 51%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0705 Forestry Sciences > 070504 Forestry Management and Environment @ 49%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960799 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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