GECO citizen scientists have discovered the Environment Department has failed to put in proper buffers for an area of cool-temperate rainforest on Mt Jersey in East Gippsland currently being logged. Rainforest stands are meant to be given a 100m Special Protection Zone (SPZ) buffer, a requirement by law which the Environment Department is responsible for implementing. VicForests has already logged within the area which should have been afforded protection. The forests are fire-affected but recovering, citizen scientists have observed and documented rainforest species like Sassafrass and Black Olive Berry re-sprouting. Read the report we submitted to the Department here.
Recovering cool-temperate rainforest, Mt Jersey East Gippsland
Just a few weeks ago we exposed the Department's failure to put in place the proper protections for an endangered Large Brown Tree Frog detection not far from the coupe currently being logged. The SPZ fell far short of the legal minimum requirements and logging occurred just over 200m from where the frog was found. The response we received the Department was woeful. They offered no explanation as to why they hadn't met the requirements and said they they wouldn't be investigating the breach. Now they have allowed logging within a rainforest buffer when the area should have been protected.
The Department were subject to a damning independent review after they failed to prosecute VicForests for rainforest breaches reported by GECO and Fauna Flora Research Collective. It has been over 12 months since that review, and still no charges have been laid against VicForests despite a Federal court finding that they had breached state and federal environment laws, and numerous breach reports from community groups ranging from logging steep slopes, destruction of threatened Tree Geebungs, and out of control post logging burns escaping into critically endangered Leadbeaters Possum buffers.
Minister Lily D'Ambrosio is responsible for the Environment Department. The complete failure of her Department to regulate logging is a direct reflection on her role as Minister. You can take action by emailing the Minister here, communities will no longer stand for this hands-off approach which lets VicForests get away with breaking the law.
Early last week East Gippsland residents went up to Mt Jersey to highlight the impacts of logging which is on the doorstep of the local township. Large old trees have been found throughout the recovering forests bulldozed, as well as critical recovering understorey species.
"Our catchment got logged, and our backyard got logged all the way up to the property line, that was in 2009 and 2010... it still looks like a bombshell. Large old trees and old growth forests are important for capturing and storing carbon. Logging forests is heavily subsidised by our tax payer dollars. Those dollars could be better spent mitigating bushfire."