As world leaders meet in Paris to reach an agreement on how to tackle climate change, GECO has embarked on an ambitious project to measure the carbon stocks in old growth forests of East Gippsland.
The tall wet Eucalyptus forests of south east Australia are the most carbon rich forests on earth. Logging and burning of native forests is destroying some of the world's greatest carbon stores, releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. This project is really exciting because there's a large body of forest carbon science from the Central Highlands of Victoria and Tasmania, however the mixed species wet Eucalyptus forests of East Gippsland have never been sampled. We're looking forward to finding out more about the role East Gippsland's forests play in fighting climate change.
Recent surveying in the Cottonwood range forests has revealed vast areas of failed regeneration after logging. VicForests recently added 9 new logging areas (coupes) to their plans in the Cottonwood range, more than 20 coupes are on the logging plans in the Cottonwood.
Logging operations in this high altitude environment are failing to regenerate, this coupe was logged in 2004. Once a tall wet forest with a diversity of plant and animal species, it's now a paddock of grasses and dead bracken.
This is land clearing, not "sustainable" logging. Logging operations are currently occurring within 700m of this area of failed regeneration. There are 20 planned coupes all with in a 2km radius of the area. Will the forests being logged now and in the future on the Cottonwood range also fail to regenerate? It's very likely.
High altitude areas often fail to regenerate due to colder temperatures and frosts. Our photo was posted by our friends Environment East Gippsland on their facebook page and the ABC ran a story about this environmental disaster. Click read more to see the story.
GECO joined Fauna and Flora Research collective and Environment East Gippsland yesterday to meet with the Department of Envrionment Land Water and Planning (DELWP). The meeting was to discuss acceptable protections for rainforest, cool temperate mixed forest and large old trees. The consultation resulted from public concern over an illegal rainforest logging operation on the Errinundra plateau that GECO documented in April this year. Controversy surrounding the rainforest logging operation prompted the government to review the logging rules. Instead of actually doing their job and prosecuting VicForests for the illegal logging, the DELWP have instead decided to change to rules!
It took three years to get a response, but last week we received notification from the Victorian government that a 'protection' zone will be declared in an area of forest where we filmed an Endangered long-footed potoroo. It sounds good right? But the problem is logging can and does occur within Long-footed potoroo protection zones. The exact site where we filmed this endangered species can be logged and is scheduled to be destroyed this year. Several sites where we've filmed endangered potoroos in the past have already been logged. Read more to take a really simple action to protect the Potoroo.
Twenty five students from the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN) converged on Goongerah this week to take part in a citizen science survey camp. Students from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra attended to learn about the ecology of the forests of East Gippsland and the survey techniques used in GECOs citizen science program.
Environment Minister Lisa Neville MP has told ABC radio that the forest where GECO recently photographed the endangered Large brown tree frog will not be logged! The frog was thought to have gone extinct until April this year when it was rediscovered by a GECO volunteer. Earlier this month it was photographed by GECO in an area scheduled for logging. GECO submitted a report to the government asking them to create a special protection zone around the site and rule out planned logging of the forest.
ABC reported on the frog discovery this morning on ABC Gippsland. The story also ran on Radio National and 774 Melbourne. The Minister said it was a really significant discovery, logging will not go ahead and a protection zone will be put in place to protect the frog.Read more
The endangered Large Brown Tree-frog (Litoria littlejohnii) has been detected in an area earmarked for logging. The frog was through to be extinct until April this year when GECO volunteer Rena Garborov rediscovered it in Mt. Jersey forests near Goongerah. GECO has submitted the record of this frog to the Department of Environment and are hopeful Environment Minister Lisa Neville MP will protect the area and prevent VicForests from pushing head with planned logging operations. Since the frogs rediscovery in April, VicForests has added 127 new logging coupes to their plans in East Gippsland, 9 of which surround the locations where the frog was rediscovered.
The State government has issued fines to three citizen science surveyors who reported illegal rainforest logging. Despite the State government committing to implementing a raft of changes to logging rules in light of the information we provided, fines have been issued for entering logging "safety zone". We'll be fighting the fines in court and will not be silenced for speaking out about VicForests unlawful logging operations.
The so called 'safety zones' are designed to keep the public out of the forests and shield VicForests logging operations from scrutiny. We'll continue to monitor and document logging operations. It's in the public interest for the public to know what is happening in their forests.
Victorian Government Thanks Conservationists For Exposing "Disturbing" Logging Practices By Fining Them
The Victorian government has fined a conservationist who exposed what the Environment Minister described as “very disturbing” and “extremely poor practice” logging, despite reports he helped prepare becoming a catalyst for substantial reform of industry guidelines.
Originally published by New Matilda: https://newmatilda.com/2015/08/10/victorian-government-thanks-conservationists-exposing-disturbing-logging-practices-fining/
The state government is seeking to change the legal definition of "Cool Temperate Mixed Forest" after a GECO report provided evidence of illegal logging in this rare and threatened forest type. We fear that changing the definition will most likely water down protections to facilitate logging. The Department of Environment will also review protections for large old trees in light of recent GECO survey work, this is the same survey work the government are threatening to prosecute us for undertaking. We are hopeful old growth trees can be given appropriate protection through this process.
again 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 on the ABC website
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!Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.
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.