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 an exemption from environment laws.

The details of the dodgy deal between the Morrison and Andrews government won't be released until its tabled in Parliament in August. Victorians deserve to know the fine print of the exemptions, its unquestionably disastrous news 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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Email the Premier, no salvage logging & protection of remaining forests

In November 2019 the Daniel Andrews government announced a commitment for all logging in native forests across the state to stop by 2030. Now this summer’s fires have added an urgent need to protect what remains. The ecological devastation of the bushfires has been clearly laid out in a leaked report, species are likely to already be extinct as a result of the fires. Meanwhile the logging industry is calling for funding to salvage log burnt forests.

Take action and send an email to the Premier

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Rainforests turned to ashes and logging industry calls to loot burnt forests

Below is footage of Martin's Creek, the largest area of warm temperate rainforest in Victoria that burnt in the bushfires in East Gippsland. Meanwhile the logging industry has been asking for government funding to salvage log in burnt areas. This is essentially further destroying forests that have been burnt despite proven damage to ecosystems and wildlife which urgently need assistance to recover, not further destruction and damage. Logging is still happening in Victoria despite catastrophic losses of forests and wildlife. All forests are now critical refuges for remaining threatened flora and fauna. 

Call the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on (03) 9651 5000 and tell him; no salvage logging in burnt areas, and protection of all remaining unburnt forests.

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Urgent action for the Greater Glider

GECO along with our friends at Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH) have put together an email action for the the threatened Greater Glider. According to a leaked government report 25% of the remaining population of Greater Gliders is estimated to have perished in the terrible bushfires in East Gippsland, and that figure could grow. Meanwhile key Greater Glider habitat is being logged in the Central Highlands Victoria right now, with many more areas planned to be logged in the coming months.

Send an email below to Ministers D’Ambrosio and Symes calling for immediate protection of the Greater Glider

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Town of Goongerah devastated by fires

The small community of Goongerah in East Gippsland has been horribly impacted by fires still raging across the country. All residents are safe and accounted for, but 10 people have lost their homes. The town remains cut off, and the impact these fires have had on homes, properties, wildlife and the surrounding forest is devastating.

Many of the people affected by these fires have for years been on the front lines of the campaign for protection of East Gippsland’s precious forests and wildlife. Now we are calling on people to help them to rebuild their lives.

It will take months of hard work and resources for the community to recover. With months of on-going and severe fire risks still to come, the community remains vulnerable. They need your help to prepare.

 

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Massive year for East Gippsland's forests!

We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the people who wrote to politicians, made submissions, donated, signed petitions, and shared our posts. Thanks to you we’ve had some important wins, and we’re gearing up for another year of campaigning for permanent protection of East Gippsland’s forests.

Here’s a recap of what’s happened over the last year;

 

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Have your say, scrap the draft old growth forests tool

The government announced the protection of 90,000ha of old growth forests, but VicForests' have been left in charge of finding and protecting them using an inadequate field verification tool which declassifies old growth forest. The Environment Departments' Office of Conservation Regulator (OCR) are currently seeking feedback on that tool.

Email the OCR now, field verification is only necessary outside the mapping, and VicForests' can't be left to regulate themselves.

UPDATE: Submissions have now closed as of 10 January 2020

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Old growth forests still being logged, take action now

The Premier and Environment Minister promised to protect old growth forests, but old growth forests are still being logged right now. We need to know how they're going to stick to their commitment and ban old growth logging for good.

Send the premier and minister an email so they know we expect them to take immediate action to protect old growth forests like they've said.

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Breaking down the gov’s announcement; What does this actually mean for Victoria’s forests?

 

It’s been an emotional few days following the Victorian government announcement that logging native forests will end in 2030. The government has also committed to state-wide protections for 90,000ha of old growth forests, and 96,000ha of new protected areas, 48,500 of which are in East Gippsland. An action statement for the threatened Greater Glider was also finally released, after two years of inaction following it’s up-listing to threatened in 2017.

 

 

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Vic govt takes positive and welcome first step to protect native forests

Goongerah Environment Centre and Friends of the Earth have today welcomed the Victorian government announcement of protection of 96,000 hectares of forests in eastern Victoria and complete and immediate protection of 90,000 hectares of old growth forest, but say more details and maps are needed to ensure the announcement results in lasting and effective protection. 

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Minister abandons dodgy code review

Last month the environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio abandoned alarming proposed changes to the ‘Code of Practice for Timber Production’ after huge concerns were raised by environment groups. Over a thousand people emailed the minister to scrap the proposed changes, which would have taken an axe to already weak environmental laws, and it worked!

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Rare Satinwood under threat from logging at Mt. Buck rainforest

Geco citizen scientists have discovered the rare Satanwood (Nematolepis squamea subsp. Squamea) plant within a rainforest site of significance about to be logged by Vicforests in East Gippsland

SatinWoodMt Buck Rainforest

As we write, Less than 2000 individual Satinwood plants are known to exist in Victoria. With this population the only known occurrence outside of reserves, much of which is about to be logged by Vicforests.

Geco have written a report on the discovery and told the government that this rare plant must be saved.

 

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