For the third day running conservationists in far East Gippsland have prevented logging in a domestic water supply catchment.
"It is ridiculous that while the majority of the country is in drought, with fire and water conservation at the fore of government attention, that logging water supplies still occurs." said local resident Shelly Nundra.
Approximately thirty conservationists (including two local CFA members) first attended the contentious forest area on Tuesday, and have stayed on to ensure the catchment remains free of industrial logging. Conservationists stressed that machinery normally used for fighting fires would not be impeded.
The community of this area has made several requests for consultation on the matter of logging in water catchments. The Department of 'Sustainability' and Environment has to date denied these requests. Further attempts to establish dialogue will continue this week.
It is policy of the current Labor government that logging be excluded from domestic water supply catchments. "We are protesting in the catchment to send a strong message to John Thwaites and Steve Bracks to enforce their policy on this issue," said Ms Nundra.
"Scientific studies provide ample evidence that logging has major impacts on water quantity and quality. The government is ignoring this science. Other regional populations such as Mallacoota have recognised this and benefit from a protected catchment. Our creek is seriously degrading as a direct result of intensified logging in the headwaters over the last 2 years," Ms Nundra continued.
"Why should countless Victorians have water restrictions imposed on them when an unregulated logging industry continues to destroy the very catchments which produce our water in the first place?" she asked.
The crew assigned to log this area allegedly said they wished to end their contract and take compensation packages, rather than continue to log in the steep, dangerous terrain that comprises the Goongerah Creek's headwaters.
"As well as drying up & dirtying our water, logging here will compound fire risks by eradicating fire-retardant wet forest areas and replacing them with fire prone regrowth forest." she concluded.
For comment, Goongerah Environment Centre : Shelly Nundra, 0428 263702 or 51540111
Up to 50 conservationists will today join with local residents in protest action aimed at stopping the continuation of logging in the Goongerah Creek water catchment in East Gippsland.
Conservationists say they won't lock up machinery normally used for fire fighting, and wish to stress the logging itself is actually compounding the impacts of drought, and increasing fire danger.
Spokes person for the group, Tom Crook said, "it is a policy of the current labor government that logging be excluded from domestic water supply catchments. We are protesting in the catchment today to send a strong message to John Thwaites and Steve Bracks to inact their policy on this issue".
'"It is ridiculous that with a majority of the country in drought and water conservation and restrictions at the fore of government attention that logging in water supplies still occurs," he continued.
"There is ample evidence to prove that logging has major negative impacts on both water quality and water quantity, and this science is being ignored by the government," said Mr. Crook
"Other regional populations (eg,Mallacoota) have recognised this and benefit from a catchment which excludes logging. Why should countless Victorians have water restrictions imposed upon them when an unregulated logging industry continues to destroy the very catchments which produce our water in the first place ?" he asked.
Conservationists say that absence of direct community consultation on this issue has left residents sick with worry about the future of their water supplies. Several conservationists attended the DSE offices in Orbost yesterday to ask questions on the matter, but were told to go away.
"The DSE is a publicly owned department, which should be accountable to the community regarding public forests. Instead they are serving the interests of private companies at the expense of water quality, while landowners and farmers in downstream Goongerah suffer. They are robbing our future, and the viability of our land. Logging domestic and farming water supplies in these times of drought and extreme fire danger is sheer madness", concluded Mr.Crook.
For more information :
Goongerah Environment Centre Shelly Nundra / Lucinda Douglass - 51540111 or 51540156