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
Given the impacts of the fires, it's now more important than ever that the transition out of native forests is brought forward, with all remaining forests protected and managed for the vast array of non-logging values they contain.
The collapse of the industry was imminent before the fires, due to resource exhaustion from over-logging. The best thing the government could do for forests and wildlife so heavily impacted by the fires, and for forestry workers, is to bring forward the transition so they can exit the industry immediately.
Salvage logging operations will heavily disrupt and hinder the natural recovery process of burnt forests and increase the risk of bush fires into the future, especially under climate change.
Forest stewardship through science based conservation management of forests across the state is critical to securing wildlife populations under threat of extinction and providing further economic opportunities for rural communities.
Its estimated that over 25% of Greater Glider habitat has been burnt in East Gippsland
Meanwhile in Victoria's Central Highlands, citizen science group Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH), represented by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) have taken VicForests to court over continued logging of fire affected endangered species habitat in forests close to Melbourne. 10 coupes are subject to the injunction, with logging immediately halted in three of the active logging areas.
The injunction is the only thing stopping critical threatened species habitat from being bulldozed in these areas, with the group arguing that given that the full extent of damage to forests and wildlife is yet to be understood, VicForests must take a precautionary approach and stop logging where any fire affected threatened species are found to ensure key populations of the Greater Glider, Powerful Owl, Sooty Owl, and Smoky Mouse are preserved following the devastating impacts of the fires.
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