Contact Jaclyn Symes

Minister Jaclyn Symes, who's responsible for VicForests, is pushing to change laws to remove the democratic right for community groups to take legal action against VicForests. Despite the horrific black Summer bushfires, and the Federal Court ruling VicForests broke the law, she's backing VicForests' new plans to log thousands of hectares of forests across Victoria, against her own government's scientific advice!

You can take action and email Minister Symes, we expect stronger laws for wildlife and an urgent transition out of native forest logging.

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Email the Minister, her Department has failed to protect forests and wildlife

The Department has failed to put in the proper protections for a Large Brown Tree Frog detection on Mt Jersey. We're sick of the Department failing to regulate the rogue loggers, they need to charge VicForests and start acting to protect forests and wildlife, not look after the interests of the logging industry.

Take action now, email Minister D'Ambrosio to push her Department to take action

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New species of rare frog discovered, logging threatens its survival on Mt Jersey

The Large Brown Tree Frog, Litoria littlejohni, endemic to south-eastern Australia has been split into 2 species, now Litoria littlejohni and newly named Litoria watsoni, halving its distribution and population. But state-owned logging company VicForests is currently logging just over 200m away from a detection site of the frog in the Yalmy catchment on Mt Jersey in East Gippsland, and have cleared the vegetation and installed a gate where the frog was found. Mt Jersey was heavily impacted by fire, but Orbost spiny crayfish and a Yellow-bellied Glider were found within the logging area only a few months ago. Long-footed Potoroos were also found pre-fires.

The Large Brown Tree Frog was thought to be extinct in Victoria for over 20 years when it was rediscovered in 2015 by Goongerah Environment Centre citizen scientist and ecologist Rena Gaborov. East Gippsland is a stronghold for the species, which prefers wet and damp forests. According to the government’s biodiversity impacts report 88% of its known habitat in East Gippsland is within the 2019/2020 fire extent.

Read The Age coverage of the story here.

 

Newly discovered Litoria watsoni found on Mt Jersey

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VicForests once again fails to get the green tick

Government owned logging agency VicForests have finally released the results of their 2019 Forest Stewardship Council audit, revealing they've failed to achieve FSC certification. This is the fifth try to get the green tick, the audit report reveals major non-conformances for failure to protect threatened species habitat and high conservation values, continued logging of old growth forest, as well as poor stakeholder engagement.

Remarkably, a few months ago when VicForests announced they were abandoning their efforts to get the green tick, they made a desperate attempt to shift the blame for failing to meet the standards, pointing the finger to the FSC board itself, who have nothing to do with the audit process or the outcome. They also blamed the bushfires and COVID, events which happened after the audit in 2019.

 

Failed regen, Mt Delusion, Swifts Creek

 

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Legal battle for protection of old growth forests continues in the Supreme Court

Our good friends from the Fauna and Flora Research Collective (FFRC) are back in court on September 16th to defend East Gippsland's precious old growth forests from logging! Despite the government's supposed ban on old growth logging, old growth is still getting the chop under a new definition. The case is the only thing keeping the government accountable to protect these ancient forests.

There's still hope for the ancient forests of East Gippsland. FFRC are fighting for protection of old growth in court, and you can help. Please donate to their legal defence fund here.

Precious old growth forests in East Gippsland, still scheduled for logging

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Have your say on inquiry into ecosystem decline

Right now submissions are open into the Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into ecosystem decline. The inquiry is an important opportunity to voice our concerns about how important Victoria's unique and threatened ecosystems and wildlife are, and that we expect the Victorian government to implement better laws, and stronger protections to halt the steep decline of threatened flora and fauna. Submissions close August 31.

Click here to make submission

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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
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Bunnings axe ties with VicForests over illegal logging

A leaked Bunnings staff newsletter has revealed Bunnings will phase out VicForests products from their supply chain following a federal court judgement which found they had illegally logged over 25 areas of native forest, and that their future logging plans fail to comply with state and federal laws. Bunnings have now released a statement which you can read here.

The judgement throws doubt over the legality of all logging in threatened species habitat, the state-owned logging company are still logging forests in the Central Highlands which contain threatened species like the Greater Glider despite the court ruling, and the government is yet to take any action to ensure that its current logging operations comply with state and federal laws.

 

Copy of the leaked Bunnings staff newsletter

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Email the Victorian gov, moratorium until there's action for threatened wildlife

Fire damaged forests in East Gippsland scheduled for logging

Despite this summer's terrible bushfires, the government are rushing in to log fire-damaged forests, and precious unburnt areas under the renewed legal exemptions for the logging industry from national environment laws.

Thanks to thousands of Victorian's like you emailing the government and engaging in the RFA review process, important new clauses have been added to the agreements.

In the absence of scrapping the dodgy exemptions, the Victorian government has made commitments to:

1. Conduct risk assessments for all listed threatened species by October this year

2. Consider the impacts of climate change on vulnerable species

3. Review the current reserve system and update state environment laws

4. Conduct a major event review to consider the impacts of this summer's bushfires

We expect all these commitments to be conducted by independent scientific experts, in consultation with the community, and result in strengthened protections for threatened species.

Until the commitments are met, we're calling for an immediate moratorium on logging across Victoria. The government cannot continue logging wildlife habitat and threatened ecosystems after the devastating bushfires before new and stronger protections are implemented. Join us in calling for better protections for wildlife.

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Victorian government to log thousands of hectares of fire damaged forests

The Andrews government logging agency VicForests have written to Goongerah Environment Centre outlining plans to log thousands of hectares of forests affected by the 2019/2020 bushfires in East Gippsland, despite the known devastating ecological impacts of salvage logging. The government's own regulator is working with VicForests to give them the green light to salvage log, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that this will cause severe ecological harm. The Age have reported here.

Logging is well underway in fire-affected forests south of the Alpine National Park

 

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"The forests are now silent", short film tells the story of Kuark

Earlier this year we visited the ancient forests of Kuark with wilderness photographer Rob Blakers.

A shocking series of before-and-after shots show the horrific impacts of the fires to ancient and rare cross-overs of warm and cool temperate rainforests.

Environment Victoria traveled to bushfire affected areas and communities to create a series of short films. This part in the series shares the story of Kuark, Rob's journey there, and of long-time forest campaigner and ecologist Rena Gaborov, who lost her home and wildlife shelter in the fires.

It brings home the urgent need to protect forests and wildlife across Victoria in the wake of this summer's catastrophic bushfires. Government logging cannot go on business as usual in burnt and unburnt forests when so much has been lost.

Take action and email Premier Dan Andrews here

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10-year legal exemptions rolled over, State and Federal govs fail to protect threatened species

 

Legal exemption for the logging industry from federal environment law was signed off on Monday for another ten years in spite of the horrific impacts of the bushfires on forests and wildlife. Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are agreements between State and Federal governments which give logging a special exemption from Federal environment laws (the EPBC Act). Logging is the only extractive industry which receives legal exemption, and will be disastrous for threatened species and forests devastated by the fires.

Given the extensive impacts of the bushfires on forests and wildlife the agreements should have been left to expire to give species a chance to recover. RFAs have allowed logging in thousands of hectares of threatened species habitat for over 20 years, and this will continue now they've been renewed. This will have devastating consequences for wildlife already on the brink of extinction. The Age have reported here.

 

Threatened Greater Glider, Federally listed on the EPBC Act which logging receives special exemption through the RFAs

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Photos reveal Kuark forest devastated by recent bushfires

After a five year long community campaign, the iconic Kuark forest in East Gippsland was finally protected by the Victorian government. Tragically, Kuark was severely impacted by the devastating fires of 2019/2020. Kuark forest was one of the most bio-diverse forests in Victoria, rich in wildlife, rare rainforest and old growth forests.

After months of wondering with hope and fear of how Kuark had been impacted by the fires, Tasmanian nature photographer Rob Blakers and GECO campaigners returned to the area to document the devastation. Sadly the scale and intensity of the destruction wrought by the fires is profoundly devastating. Read a report from The Guardian Australia here.

Mount Kuark old growth forest 

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Environment Dept. allow VF contractors to go rogue on roadside clearing

Roadside clearing operations on the Princes Highway are complete, and now along hundreds of kilometres of tracks through burnt and unburnt forests, roadside logging is well underway. VicForests cowboys have been contracted by the Environment Department for hazardous tree removal, and they've been given the green light to ‘salvage’ those trees from the road-clearing effort. But over-zealous roadside clearing and tree removal is happening, and according to reports only a small portion of trees being taken are actually hazardous. It’s very unclear as to what environmental regulations and assessments are being done to ensure that only dangerous trees are being removed. The Age has reported on the issue and the Office of the Conservation Regulator is now investigating.

“We are extremely disturbed at the amount of questionable clear felling of large habitat trees occurring along thousands of kilometres of East Gippsland’s roads... We fear that demands from industry for salvage logging of burnt public forests is already happening under the guise of road clearing operations.”

Over-zealous and unregulated logging of Bloodwood trees in Cape Conran

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Logging industry 'suspended' pending closure in East Gippsland

VicForests has cancelled logging contracts in East Gippsland following the catastrophic bush fires this summer.

It's estimated that around 50% of forests previously scheduled to be logged have been burnt by the fires, forcing VF to rethink its plans and suspend logging until at least mid year.

'Salvage' logging operations, unfortunately, still haven't been ruled out by the government at this stage, amid calls by the industry to also log National Parks.

After decades of over logging, the Andrew's government finally acknowledged the industry isn't sustainable last year and announced a transition out of all native forests by 2030, starting in 2024.

Now, with so much forest burnt, our wildlife pushed to the brink and more Black Saturday type fires predicted,  industry exit packages should be brought forward to provide immediate protection for threatened species from logging and a just transition for forest workers.

 

Forests on the Errinundra Plateau thankfully left unburnt

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