16 January 2004
The logging practices of East Gippsland forestry were exposed as being amongst the worst in the state, according to a report released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, entitled "Environmental Audit of Timber Production on Public Land" found that East Gippsland had the worst compliance with the Code of Forest Practices and received low scores in 12 out of 16 focus areas. Rainforest protection was particularly bad. Only 56% of coupes audited across the state were compliant with rainforest prescriptions, and three out of four coupes containing rainforest were found to be non-compliant with rainforest protection prescriptions. Roading was also poor, with four out of the five lowest scores for roading received in East Gippsland. In addition, the marking of filter strips (small creeks) were found to be generally unsatisfactory in East Gippsland, and contained excessive amounts of soil and slash. Low scores were received in boundary and snig tracks, regeneration, reserved areas protection, habitat trees and litter removal.
An independent auditor, Dr David Telford, appointed by the Environmental Protection Agency wrote the report. The auditing team, consisting of two soil scientists, two botanists, two foresters and two members of the EPA, audited 30 coupes in four forest management areas across the state, with fourteen in the East Gippsland Forest Management Area.
"This report vindicates what environmentalists have been saying for years. For the first time, the same method for auditing logging practices has been used across different Forest Management Areas and has exposed East Gippsland as the worst. Of particular concern is the lack of protection for rainforest and the terrible state of logging roads in East Gippsland, which is something we have being trying to highlight for years," said Fiona York, spokesperson for the Goongerah Environment Centre.
"The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) in East Gippsland is not fit to manage our forests. They are failing to comply with even the most basic prescriptions to protect rainforest and reserved areas, yet these prescriptions are by no means stringent. They are a rogue department whose practices until now have gone basically unchecked at the expense of the environment," she continued.
"Compliance with the fifteen recommendations made by the EPA would be the bare minimum necessary to improve the dire state of forest management in East Gippsland. Unfortunately, it is too late for many of these unique areas of forest," she concluded.
For more information: Fiona York
The report can be viewed at www.epa.vic.gov.au