Chris Fowell missing from Camp Errinundra

17 April 2021: Update on missing person Chris Fowell

We are deeply saddened by the tragic news that Chris Fowell was found deceased by community members from Camp Errinundra, who together with search and rescue and SES volunteers exhaustively searched for Chris since he went missing last Saturday. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and those who knew Chris, people at camp, and those who helped with the search.
 
We thank everyone for their support and thoughts in these difficult times. Our deepest condolences again to Chris' family and all those feeling the loss of this forest warrior. Debriefing is available for people who need support, please get in touch with us. To speak to a Lifeline Crisis Supporter, phone 13 11 14.

Chris joined the Errinundra camp on 24 March. He is a veteran of the Errinundra and Daintree forest blockades of the 1980’s and very skilled and experienced at bush living.  Since joining the camp, he tended the fire, played guitar and sang, and was an easy going friendly camp member.  He is always very eager to volunteer for direct action, and locked on to a logging machine for 8 hours to prevent logging.

 

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Great turn out at Easter Camp as protest enters 9th week!

Over 30 people attended our Easter citizen science and skill share camp over the long weekend, including Green Senator and First Nations activist Lidia Thorpe. Volunteers did surveys for Greater Gliders, tree measuring, and marked out a walk through an incredible area of threatened forest in the Cottonwood area. Community protests have halted logging for the last 9 weeks in the area. One area was removed from the immediate logging schedule, while two others are currently being blockaded. More than 5 people have been arrested and fined in the last week, but a person is still occupying a tree-sit, and another a quad-pod structure blocking access to the area.

Support is always needed at camp. Click here for directions and to get in touch to come out.

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VicForests pulls out of contentious logging coupe in Errinundra

VicForests have removed the coupe in Errinundra where community protests have halted logging for nearly 2 months from the immediate schedule. Multiple tree-sits had been set up in the area, two people have been arrested since the protests started at the end of January this year. The Errinundra Plateau is one of the few remaining unburnt areas in East Gippsland, and a critical refuge for bushfire ravaged wildlife.

While the area is safe for now, logging machines are already moving into an area just down the road where GECO citizen scientists found five Greater Gliders. Protests against the logging are ramping up in the area. Camp Errinundra is still halting logging in this critical area of unburnt forest. Camp is always in need of more support, click here for details of how to get involved.

 

Community protests halted logging for nearly 2 months

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Environment Department handballs wildlife protections to government logging agency

East Gippsland conservation groups were outraged to learn this week that environmental protections for threatened species detected in state forests are being designed by state owned logging company VicForests.

GECO received notice from the Environment Department that a report submitted last year for detections of a high-density of Yellow-bellied Gliders had triggered the implementation of a 100ha protection zone. But we've been informed that the state-owned logging company VicForests were put in charge of designing the zone, and that it's being placed over existing buffers, and does not protect the habitat of the gliders. Logging had already started in the area when citizen scientists detected the species.

In less than a week over 500 people have emailed decision makers to call for protection of forests, over the past few days calls flooded into the Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio's office asking her to direct her Department to put in proper zones which protect the forests. Sign and share our email action here to keep making an impact!

 

Forests in the Colquhoun still threatened by logging

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Take action! After the fires, forests need protection

A new report showing analysis of maps and data from the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires has revealed the significant areas of unburnt forests critical for bushfire affected wildlife are set to be logged by the Victorian Government.

These and other important areas are still scheduled for logging, when they need to be protected. Take action and email decision makers to drop logging plans and protect forests and wildlife.

 

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Forest refuges under threat from logging by the Andrews Government

A new report showing analysis of maps and data from the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires has revealed the significant areas of unburnt forests critical for bushfire affected wildlife are set to be logged by the Victorian Government.

The report titled After the Fires: protecting our forest refuges reveals damaging plans by state-owned logging company VicForests to continue to log over 20,000ha of forest across ten key refuge areas identified in the report. These areas, and others not focussed on in the report are critical for wildlife to recover and repopulate the vast areas where millions of animals were killed by the fires. The report also finds that out of the 112,000 ha of state forest in East Gippsland outside the fire extent, 90,000 ha remains unprotected. You can take action by emailing decision makers to protect these and other critical refuges for wildlife after the fires.

Click here to read the full report.

 

After the Fires: protecting our forest refuges

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Tree-sit protests in Melbourne's CBD and East Gippsland call for protection of forests

A tree-sit has been set up in Melbourne's CBD in solidarity with ongoing protests in Errinundra, East Gippsland. For four weeks a blockade has stopped logging in East Gippsland. Search and rescue police have already arrived to arrest the tree-sitter bringing the issue to Melbourne's Treasury Gardens.
The Premier Dan Andrews listened to the health advice when it came to tackling the pandemic. But his government are ignoring scientific advice to protect key refuge areas for threatened species impacted by the bushfires, and logging is going ahead and scheduled in hundreds of areas across Victoria.
Tree-sit in Treasury Gardens in solidarity with Errinundra protests

 

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Forest protest halts logging for a second week!

For two weeks logging has been halted in a precious area of forests in Errinundra. For 11 days an East Gippsland local stayed up a tree-sit to stop machines from coming in, they were arrested a few days ago, along with another person occupying a tree-sit nearby. Since then protesters have blocked the road with a tri-pod structure. Despite the arrests protests are continuing in the area, where logging has been prevented from going ahead for the last 2 weeks.

 

A conservationist is now blocking the road stopping machines from entering the forest

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Tree-sit halts logging on the Errinundra Plateau

Protesters are occupying an area of forest about to be logged on the Errinundra Plateau in East Gippsland. One local community member has taken residence in a tree-sit suspended 40 metres up a giant Eucalypt tree to halt destruction of the area. The tree-sit is located in one of the last unburnt areas of forest in East Gippsland for endangered wildlife heavily impacted by last year’s bushfire.

Email [email protected] to get involved

 

View from the tree-sit over the Errinundra Plateau

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2020 Wrap up

It's been a rough and challenging year, with lots of ups and down. We watched forests where we've been campaigning for protection for decades turn to ashes. The fires devastated communities across East Gippsland and wiped out forests and wildlife. But in the face of this unprecedented catastrophe we have seen our friends and communities recover.

We were blown away by the support that came flooding in those weeks and months following the fires. We want to say a huge thank you to those who donated, put on fundraisers, organised food and supply drops, and supported the community of Goongerah to rebuild after the 2019/2020 bushfires.

Old growth forests on Sellar's Rd, still scheduled for logging

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Bidewell-Maap Traditional Owners speak out against logging through Bidewell Reserve

Bidwell-Maap Traditional Owners have written a letter to the Victorian government condemning logging planned in the Bidewell reserve near the Errinundra Plateau. There are two coupes planned adjacent to the reserve, access would be through a large coupe within the reserve itself. The letter says:

The reserve is under the custodianship of the Bidewell people, we have had no one approach us to ask for permission to go onto country. Before going onto country there needs to be consultation, there has been no consultation with Elders and Traditional Owners of the land.

The continued destruction of forests cannot continue when they need to be protected [and] which are very significant for our peoples and our connections to country. The reserve is cultural heritage for the Bidewell people.

Bidewell-Maap custodians at the Bidewell reserve

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Citizen scientists find high density of Yellow-bellied Gliders halting destruction of forests!

Logging has stopped in old growth forests in the Colquhoun after citizen scientists from GECO, Gippsland Environment Group, and Friends of Bats and Habitat Gippsland found a high density of Yellow-bellied Gliders. Thanks to the actions of citizen scientists and people taking action and calling the Environment Minister logging has stopped for now!

VicForests and the Environment Department didn't conduct spotlight surveys for the gliders which would have protected the area. A large part of the coupe has already been logged where it is highly likely Yellow-bellied Gliders were present. VicForests is legally required to do the surveys, they failed to protect the gliders making logging in the area unlawful. Read our report submitted to the Environment Department here.

Logging started in the area over two weeks ago, in an ABC article released on Saturday morning a VicForests representative stated that "These coupes would have had all of the appropriate surveys by VicForests." But destruction of the forests started without any surveys.

Logged habitat tree in the Colquhoun State Forests where Yellow-bellied Gliders have been found

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Government says logging in East Gippsland should stop but stalls on forest protections

The state and federal governments have finally agreed to conduct a Major Event Review into the impacts of the 2019/2020 bushfires, but a confidential document obtained by GECO through Freedom of Information reveals the Environment Department has already told state-owned VicForests to postpone all logging in East Gippsland. The hushed up recommendation was given more than 6 months ago, but logging has continued in East Gippsland in and outside the fire extent.

In the document the Department identifies specific areas where they've said VicForests shouldn't be logging which fall in the top 20% of habitat remaining for priority species impacted by the fires, some of which have already been logged in the last few months. We worked with The Guardian to break the story, read and share the coverage here.  

 

Logging in key unburnt forests in the Colquhoun state forest on the doorstep of Lakes Entrance, East Gippsland

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Old growth forest case heats up, Department's witness admits their tool is faulty

Last month community group Fauna and Flora Research Collective (FFRC) were back in court for two days for the second trial of their old growth forest court case. The last two days are scheduled for next week and Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) who are representing FFRC are gearing up to cross-examine the VicForests witness and put in their closing submissions. FFRC will also be calling their final witness, an expert on forest ecology and botany.

With only two days left of the trial, FFRC need to raise money to get over the final hurdle for the fight for old growth forest protection. These ancient forests need your help, please donate now.

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Environment Department fails to put in proper rainforest protections on Mt Jersey

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.

Join us this Saturday for an online update of what's happening on the ground in East Gippsland, and how you can get involved. RSVP here.

 

Recovering cool-temperate rainforest, Mt Jersey East Gippsland

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