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

JULY 2021 UPDATE: The Victorian government are set to remove the coupes scheduled in and adjacent to 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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Locals speak out against logging in recovering forests on Mt Jersey

"Today myself and a bunch of locals have come up to Mt Jersey to highlight something that the Victorian Government doesn't want you to see. And it is that old growth forests are still being logged and destroyed in Victoria."

Powerful words and footage from East Gippsland locals speaking out against logging in recovering forests on the doorstep of their township. After surviving the worst bushfires in living memory they're now watching the state government destroy these important areas which still provide critical habitat for wildlife.

You can take action and stand with the community by email decision makers here:

Minister Jaclyn Symes: https://www.geco.org.au/email_symes
Minister Lily D'Ambrosio: https://www.geco.org.au/email_minister_dambrosio
Premier Dan Andrews: https://www.geco.org.au/email_premier_andrews

 

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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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