'Out-of-date' Vic forestry plans extended


Victoria's forestry agreements have been extended until 2020 despite the government saying they're out of date.

The Regional Forest Agreements between the Victorian and federal governments allow the logging of native forests on public lands, and provide exemptions from Commonwealth environmental laws.

The agreements have been extended until March 31, 2020 for East Gippsland, the Central Highlands and North East Victoria after being due to expire on Tuesday.

This brings them into line with existing agreements in Gippsland and the state's west.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the extension provided immediate certainty for the timber industry.

But she added the agreements, developed in the 1990s, "don't reflect modern forest science or the needs of local communities".

The government would work with the timber industry and traditional owners to ensure future agreements allowed for more sustainable forest management, Ms D'Ambrosio said.

Protections were also declared for 2500 hectares of the Kuark Forest - home to threatened species including the greater glider - as well as all of the state's large, old trees more than two-and-a-half metres in diameter.

While the Australian Conservation Foundation welcomed the protections and potential changes to future agreements, it said the immediate extensions meant tall forests would continue to be destroyed.

"(Premier) Daniel Andrews should have simply let these RFAs expire and stood up to the forestry union and the logging industry," foundation campaigner Jess Abrahams said.

The federal government said it remained committing to providing 20-year rolling extensions for all of the country's Regional Forest Agreements.

"Victorian native forests produce high quality, appearance-grade timber, and the RFAs ensure this is done sustainably," Assistant Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston said.