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Environment Fraud Issues-Passing the buck on environment

by juleebhie

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A LEGAL review released by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) found State Governments have mismanaged the environment under Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) for the last 15 years.

The review, released by the EDO on behalf of an alliance of environmental groups on Wednesday, called for the Commonwealth Gov- ernment to do more to protect state forests.

RFA's are federal laws that give absolute power to protect national parks to state governments.

Principal Solicitor at the Northern Rivers EDO Sue Higginson said RFA legislation had allowed commonwealth governments to pass the buck when it came to protecting the environment.

"What it [the review] shows is that RFA are failing to protect matters of national environmental significance because the Commonwealth Government will not intervene even in the case of a breach," Ms Higginson said.

Ms Higginson said states are not complying with the RFA but cannot be prosecuted by the courts as enforcement of RFA is solely in the hands of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

"One of the things that seems quite apparent is that the Commonwealth Government, in entering into RFA, have let go of national matters of environmental significance and left it up to the state, who have not managed it properly," she said.

The study found RFA had been misused to prop up unprofitable logging companies who damaged new growth forests due to 20-year-long timber supply contracts that cannot maintain demand by logging only old growth.

The review also found concerned citizens who came across a forestry operations that appeared to breach legislation could not seek redress but for through the EPA.

"The community is locked out from redress through the courts," Ms Higginson said.

The review also found that state protections for threatened species were inadequate, considerations for global warming changes were not included in the legislation and reviews, monitoring and enforcement by states was inadequate.

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