We have great news! Logging in the contentious area where we reported rainforest logging has finally stopped!
Thanks for contacting Environment Minister Lisa Neville MP and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford MP! Our reporting and lobbying combined with the pressure you applied to her office has saved 7 ha of old growth forest that would have otherwise been logged. Well done! The pic above is GECO campaigner Ed Hill, looking pretty stoked to know this massive tree is safe from the chainsaws and bulldozers that have flattened the rest of the forest.
The area left intact is about one quarter of the whole logging coupe, so it's a significant victory for forests. However the logged ancient forest will never come back and the rainforest destruction is a tragedy.
Below is a Google earth image of the coupe (red outline) and the saved 7ha area (inside the pink line). The rest of the coupe has been devastated, however within the saved 7 hectares, old growth trees, wet understorey shrubs and rainforest species remain undisturbed. We spotlighted Greater gliders there on Monday night. It was fantastic to see them safe and sound and their homes intact! Now we need formal protection of the area by extending Errinundra National Park.
The whole story of this dodgy logging operation is a long one!
Here's a quick re-cap of what happened.
Nearly four weeks ago we reported a VicForests illegal rainforest logging operation to the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP), read more here.
DELWP investigated the allegations and failed to find conclusive evidence the rainforest logging was unlawful.
The Minister was scathing of the logging, slamming VicForests for "extremely poor practices", saying she "was very disturbed about what had occurred," and " we saw rainforest canopies had been pushed over and we saw huge disturbance in the area of this rainforest patch".
DELWP refused to release their findings publicly. This is typical of the DELWP, not well known for their transparency and willingness to actually do their job! The Minister did the right thing and ordered them to release the report. The report found inconclusive evidence to suggest areas of rainforest were large enough to warrant legal protection. Because the rainforest had been destroyed they couldn't tell how big it was before logging!
While DELWP said it couldn't prove the allegations either way they were critical of VicForests stating they "retained a degree of culpability" and should have stopped the loggers from pushing over rainforest for no reason. See ABC story on the findings of the report here.
DELWP have only just begun to investigate the fourth allegation from our report, this relates to illegal logging of Old Growth Mixed Rainforest (a threatened community that is protected by law and can't be logged). When the Minister found out this allegation had been ignored when we initially submitted the report, she did the right thing and ordered DELWP to investigate. The investigation is continuing and so the story continues. One thing is for sure, VicForests are continuing to act like cowboys as if they are a law unto themselves.
There are positive signs coming from Minister Neville that she has the ability to listen and respond appropriately and has taken this situation seriously and slammed VicForests. A good start, now we need forest protection and to strengthen regulatory mechanisms and the code of practices so VicForests can be pulled into line and conservation values are protected. We are engaging with her office regularly and the campaign goes on!
Thanks again for taking action. We couldn't have done it without your efforts. We are really looking forward to continuing to work with you to protect East Gippsland's forests!
See below to watch this neat short film about you we found the rainforest logging and reported on it.