Australia's 'dirtiest' power station considers 'clean energy' biomass burning option

Thursday 23 July 2015 11:29AM
Sara Phillips and Gregg Borschmann

With recent changes to the renewable energy target, the burning of native forest wood waste can once Tree_smokestack.jpgagain earn credits for generating clean energy, but there's dispute about whether burning native forest waste for energy is 'carbon neutral'. Background Briefing reports.

Originally published at

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/hazelwood-considers-clean-energy-biomass-burning-option/6641880

 

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Huge Turn Out For Winter Survey Camp

IMGP3364(1).jpg The winter Citizen Science camp was a massive success. Despite 100mm of rain the week before, freezing temperatures and snow on the hills above us, 60 people braved the cold to come out. Lots of enthusiastic people from all across Australia made the journey to Goongerah. We had a blast meeting everyone and showing off East gippy. Participants took part in rainforest surveys, nocturnal spotlighting, ecology workshops and remote camera deployment. Good times!

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Rares ferns, unknown in East Gippsland discovered in Kuark Forest

FR6491.jpg Our citizen science program has made a really exciting discovery! Earlier this year we conducted an intensive rainforest survey of an area of rainforest in Kuark and identified a species that has never been recorded in East Gippsland. We sent the fern to the Melbourne Herbarium and they confirmed it as Bristly Shield Fern (Lastriopsis hispida). The closest known occurrence of this species is 250kms to the west of Kuark forest. It' s a highly significant discovery and a huge geographical range extension for the species. It shows that we don't know what species we could be losing when VicForests log these areas without doing adequate pre-logging surveys for special values and threatened species.

ABC's AM program came out to the Kuark forest with us and reported on this unique discovery. Click read more to see the media stories.

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We've submitted a detailed report to the government on the rainforest survey we conducted and the presence of this rare fern in the proposed logging area. We're calling on them to cancel planned logging operations in the Kuark forest and protect Kuark's biodiversity and rainforests.

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Owl habitat Court Case settles - 2000 hectares of forest to be protected!

Environment East Gippsland's (EEG) Court case concerning protection of Owl habitat reached an out of Court settlement late last week. This has resulted in 2000 hectares of forest being set aside in Owl habitat reserves. Some areas to be set aside are forests where GECO recorded Owls during surveys to collect evidence for the Court case.

While many areas of critical habitat for the Masked, Sooty and Powerful Owl remain open to logging, it's a significant victory that's taken 9 proposed logging areas off the logging schedule and placed a four year moratorium on 16 proposed logging areas. The government has also committed to increasing the size of all protected areas for owls that are below legal minimums in East Gippsland, carrying out expert research to help inform whether further protection is needed for owls and paying part of EEG's considerable costs to bring this case to court.

This Endangered Masked Owl was recorded during a GECO survey at Pikes Hill in the Kuark forest. This forest will be placed into a 500 hectare reserve to protect the Owl's habitat. Without EEG's legal action and our survey work this forest may have already been logged.

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VicForests proposes 300 new logging coupes

Last month VicForests proposed to add about 300 areas (coupes) to their logging schedule or Timber Release Plan (TRP). 172 in the Central Highlands and 127 in East Gippsland. The additional Central Highlands coupes are in some of the last remaining habitat for the critically endangered Lead Beaters Possum and within the proposed Great Forest National Park.

You can take action by visiting the TRP TimeOut website. The site is a great resource to help you write letters to Victorian Ministers requesting the new logging areas not be approved. Use the letter provided and add you own comments about East Gippsland's forests. You can share it on twitter and facebook using the hashtag #TRPTimeOut.

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Victorian forests bound for China under secret Andrews Government rescue plan

big_load_cropped.jpgConfidential documents reveal the VicForests has been exporting whole logs to China for rock bottom prices. In the absence of a viable market for so called 'residual' timber, after the collapse of the export woodchip market, VicForests are stopping to new lows here by exporting unprocessed timber and exporting jobs. Our forests are worth so much more standing than they are as unprocessed logs heading to China for rock bottom prices.

The Andrew's government appears to have relaxed restrictions on the the export of unprocessed materiel. It's a move that has angered environmentalists and the Unions. Looks like the rogue agency VicForests has the government wrapped around their finger. 

The story broke in The Age newspaper this morning. GECO's Ed Hill spoke with the ABC, explaining that in the language of VicForests, 'residue' actually means whole trees from high conservation value forests. Click read more for media.

 

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Urgent Action Needed To Stop Native Forest Biomass!

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In less than a week the federal Senate will decide whether to include native forest biomass burning in the Renewable Energy Target!

Please call, tweet and email the Senate cross benchers now!

We urgently need your help! In less than a week the Senate will consider legislation that proposes to include burning native forests for electricity (biomass) in the Renewable Energy Target (RET). The Federal government and the logging industry want the RET to include native forest biomass power as an eligible source of renewable energy. This would mean native forest biomass would qualify for Renewable Energy Certificates (REC'S) and compete directly with true sources of renewable energy like solar and wind.

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GECO finalists in UN World Environment Day Awards!

Earlier this month GECOs Citizen Science Program was nominated as a finalist in the 2015 United Nations of Australia World Environment Day Awards. We were urged to apply by the UN for the biodiversity and habitat restoration award, which recognises community groups who have made outstanding contributions to the protection of Victoria's biodiversity. Ironically the Victorian government are threatening to prosecute us for exposing an illegal rainforest logging operation, becuase we entered a 'prohibited area' to do so. So the government want to prosecute us for doing the work the UN want to give us an award for! It's a weird and  whacky world isn't it?!! 

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VicForests to benefit from inclusion of 'wood waste' burning in Renewable Energy Target

Timber company to benefit as RET deal creates market for unsaleable timber, says VicForests analysis

Originally published on the ABC website - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-28/ret-reinstates-wood-waste-as-renewable-energy-source/6503166

Updated 29 May 2015, 8:40am

The revised Renewable Energy Target (RET) currently before Parliament would provide a market for otherwise unsaleable timber, according to a document from Victoria's state-owned forestry business, VicForests, obtained by the ABC.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt introduced the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill on Wednesday.

The legislation locks in the bipartisan deal for a new, lower, 2020 Renewable Energy Target.

But, controversially, it reinstates the burning of native forest wood waste as a renewable energy source in the RET scheme.

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Green Group Who Exposed Dodgy Logging Deserving Of Prosecution, Says Minister

Jaala Pulford seems to have lost the plot this week! She was asked questions in parliament about her department (The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources) threatening to prosecute us for entering a logging area where we exposed dodgy rainforest logging, and she said it is "entirely appropriate" for us to be prosecuted!

Despite the Environment Minister condemning the logging and her department thanking us for bringing it to their attention, the Agriculture minister seems hell bent on punishing us for speaking out. She has also said the VicForests operates with 'world's best practice"! We are a bit confused as to how the senseless destruction of rainforest is 'world's best practice'! Read the article published by New Matilda by clicking read more.

Ancient rainforest, illegally logged for no reason and left behind to burn.....................World's best practice Jaala?

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Vic Government Threatens to Prosecute Volunteers who Exposed Illegal Rainforest Logging

The Victorian government has written to members of GECO who did the survey that exposed recent illegal rainforest logging, threatening to prosecute them for entering the logging area!

Unbelievable but true, the government has stooped to new lows here in an attempt to silence us. Click read more to read the New Matilda article below.

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Environment Minister slams VicForests rainforest logging, despite 'inconclusive' evidence.

Olive_cannopy.jpgEnvironment Minster Lisa Neville MP has slammed VicForests conduct in the logging coupe where GECO reported illegal rainforest logging last month. The Minister said she was 'disturbed' by the logging, labeling it 'extremely poor practice'. The investigation into our allegations concluded VicForests retained 'a degree of culpability' as they allowed the unnecessary destruction of rainforest canopy species. See the media reporting here.  The Minister's condemnation comes after the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP), dismissed our allegations of illegal logging, due to what they claim is inconclusive evidence. The department's report concluded that 'due to the highly disturbed nature of the site, a proper physical assessment was not possible'. In other words the evidence had been destroyed! This is typical of the DELWP who go out of their way to let VicForests off the hook and facilitate dodgy logging practices. We are calling for an independent review of the decision and for VicForests to be prosecuted.

DELWP failed to investigate one of the allegations we raised. This was in relation to the illeagl logging of Cool Temperate Mixed Forest ( a type of transitional rainforest that is recognised as as  separate community from rainforest and is listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Gaunrantee Act). The Minister has ordered them to investigate this allegation, and so the saga continues.

 

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Senators Ludlum and Rice tour Kuark Forest with renowned wIlderness photographer Rob Blakers

2015_05_02_Kuark_Websize_27.jpgWe were thrilled to tour Senators Janet Rice and Scott Ludlam through Kuark forest last weekend. Kuark forest is rapidly making a name for itself and the Senators wanted to see some of the spectacular forests that need urgent protection and bear witness to the destruction caused from past and current logging in the area.

The Senators are lobbying against the roll over of the Regional Forest Agreements as the Tasmanian and Victorian agreements come up for review this year. The RFAs are 20-year agreements between State and Federal governments that grant the logging industry access to public forests.  The RFA’s are being reviewed and the federal government want to roll them over and lock in another 20 years of native forest destruction.

Renowned wilderness photographer Rob Blakers was also in Kuark on the tour, see his amazing photos at the Kuark Forest gallery here.

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Kuark Forest Flim Launch

We launched our beautiful new film "Saving Kuark" at Bar 303 in Northcote this week. The film by Melbourne based cinematographer David Franjic was shot at the Camp Kuark citizen science camp in March this year and tells the story of our community based citizen science program in the Kuark forest. Watch the film here

 

 

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Endangered Large Brown Tree Frog Rediscovered!

Endangered Large Brown Tree Frog (Litoria littlejohnii), has been  rediscovered by GECO volunteer ecologist Rena Gaborov!

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The tree frog hadn't been seen for 20 years and was through to have gone extinct until Rena recorded it during a survey for Gliders in April. The government are legally obligated to create a 28 hectare protection zone around the site where the frog was found, however VicForests are allowed to log hundreds of hectares of its habitat within the same catchment. We are currently following up with the government to ensure the protection zone is actually created and lobbying the government to cancel VicForests proposed logging operations within the catchment and the "Green Zone". We'll also be conducting more surveys in the area to better understand where the frog may be living and if it is present in the proposed new logging areas. Come out and give us a hand, particularly if your are a frog expert! Click read more to read a story about this exciting discivery that was published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

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