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East Gippsland's forests under threat & a free pass for illegal logging

In the wake of the most catastrophic bushfires to date, and under the cover of Covid-19, the Dan Andrews government has started logging fire-damaged forests and precious areas outside the fire extent in East Gippsland. Forests that are recovering, and some of the last remaining habitat for threatened species like the Long-footed Potoroo, Powerful Owl, and Yellow-bellied Glider are being logged right now. On top of this, last Friday government owned VicForests announced plans to add over 100 coupes to their East Gippsland logging schedule. 
Destructive salvage logging of recovering forests near Cape Conran, East Gippsland

Thousands of hectares of forest in and outside the fire extent are scheduled to be logged, the government are continuing to ignore the science about the devastating impacts of salvage logging and recklessly approving logging in some of the last remaining green unburnt forests to prop up an industry that can't meet their supply commitments without logging outside the law.


Scheduled logging in East Gippsland, map made by Fauna and Flora Research Collective


Government announces Code Review to counter community legal cases

The Andrews government has also announced plans to review the Code of Practice for Timber Production or ‘the Code’ to weaken key parts of the law which governs logging in Victoria. Government owned VicForests’ was recently slammed in a federal court judgement which found their operations were in breach of the code and federal laws, and that their past, current, and future logging operations would be unable to meet legal obligations to protect threatened species.

The Andrews government have responded by planning to remove key parts of the code, rather than taking action to ensure logging is legal and abides by the code. The governments environment department has consistently failed to hold the logging industry accountable to the law, and this move demonstrates the systemic regulatory failure which has resulted in illegal logging, forcing community groups to hold the government to account.

Here's what they've said about it so far:

...the Government has initiated a review of the Code to:

  • minimise the risk to short-term supply obligations arising from third-party litigation
  • ensure it remains fit for purpose and facilitates the implementation of the Victorian Forestry Plan


Over-zealous road clearing in East Gippsland following the fires, so far no regulatory action has been taken by the Department against VicForests


Rather than ensuring their logging agency follows the law, the Andrews government is desperately trying to find any way to get around laws which are put in place to protect environmental values, to keep propping up an unsustainable and destructive industry.

We have seen the governments environment department consistently fail to regulate the logging, which has led to a rogue logging company unlawfully running amuck in Victoria’s forests. Plans to gut the only parts of the code which are enforceable are outrageous. The only way the government can meet these unsustainable supply commitments to 2030 is to continue logging illegally. This is just another sign that the industry needs to be transitioned now, not in ten years’ time.

The government should be focused on ensuring logging is legal and therefore unable to be challenged in the courts, rather than trying to find a way to circumvent the laws which are put in place to protect environmental values.


Salvage logging, East Gippsland


Actions that you can take:

Before lock down forest protests were happening on an almost weekly basis, and with so many court cases seeking to hold VicForests and the Environment Department to the law, the need to transition out of native forest logging has never been more urgent. The government has so far taken zero responsibility for the findings of the federal court that logging across the state is in breach of law, has ignored calls from Traditional Owner’s and community groups to halt logging, and is logging extremely vulnerable forests and wildlife terribly impacted by the fires.

The calls for the end of this industry are getting louder and louder. The government cannot ignore us forever. Please take action and support these grass-roots community groups taking a stand where the government is failing to protect these forests:

Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH)

Warburton Environment Group

Forest Conservation Victoria


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