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
Back in November 2017, as logging machines were rolling into the ancient old growth forests of Kuark in East Gippsland, FFRC represented by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) got an injunction to halt the logging. The landmark court case was launched against government logging agency VicForests and the Environment Department over their failure to protect the legal minimum requirement of 60% of old growth Wet and Damp forests in East Gippsland. Since its then, the case has prevented logging in over 30 areas of old growth forests, but there are still many critical areas of old growth forests remaining under threat of logging that the case is seeking to protect.
Ancient forests in Errinundra Valley East Gippsland set to be logged
The trial finished in early 2019, and the judgement is still reserved on whether the Environment Department and VicForests will be forced to protect the minimum levels of old growth. With the government’s claim in November that they were going to protect old growth by VicForests using a field guide, the environment department have reopened the case. FFRC are seeking to hold the government to the legal requirement to place old growth forests in protection zones and challenge the government’s old growth field guide.
In November last year the Victorian government stated that all old growth forest logging would end, with the protection of 90,000 hectares of mapped old growth forests. This included a map depicting areas of old growth which would not be available for logging. That protection was never delivered. Old growth logging has continued in East Gippsland since that commitment in and outside the mapped old growth extent, under a new and misleading classification of old growth forests.
Government logging agency VicForests was logging old growth forests in East Gippsland just weeks after the announcement, we put in a report to the Environment Department, devastatingly the ancient forest was logged.
Old growth Grassy Valley forests, logged in December last year
Following the announcement the government’s Environment Department released a draft old growth forest field guide. The guide uses an arbitrary set of new criteria that old stands of forest must meet in order to qualify the area for protection, and was designed based on a guide developed by the logging agency themselves, to allow logging in old growth forests, and not based on conservation science or pre-existing criteria for old growth forests. Hundreds of supporters made submissions calling for the protection of old growth forests and for the guide to be scrapped, but the Department released a final version last month, and their going with their dodgy definition which gives VicForests a loophole to keep logging old growth forests.
To date, no old growth has been protected where this guide has been used to identify old growth forests in the field. The old growth forests court case is the last line of defence of these precious forests, please donate to the court case to give them the best possible chance for protection.