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!
While we welcome the withdrawal of the proposed review, all proposed changes to the code must strengthen protections for threatened species, not push them further to the brink of extinction. The Code of Practice is the main tool for regulating native forest logging. The Environment department is responsible for regulating native forest logging and according to them the code is the “primary instrument for regulating timber harvesting operations”.
The minister told ABC news in 2017 that the new large old tree protection rules would require buffers, stating;
"It's not just about the old trees, there is a requirement that the understory cluster associated with habitat trees will also be protected, [with the] understanding that trees on their own don't tell the full story of what goes on in forests.'
Contrary to this the draft changes to the Code did not include buffers, making the protection virtually meaningless. Trees exposed to wind and fires from VicForests post-logging burns won’t survive. The decision to supposedly protect large old trees without a buffer was based on an economic risk assessment framework, rather than on actual scientific evidence which propose buffers as the only credible option to ensure the tree’s survival. Thankfully the process has been withdrawn, changes must be based on science.
The department has lost the respect and confidence of the Victorian public, and these draft changes to the Code only further show that the department is more interested in protecting the interests of the logging industry than the environment. The department is failing to protect biodiversity and conservation values, allowing the logging industry to essentially police itself. Just last year the department was subject to an ‘Independent Review of Timber Harvesting Regulation’, which found that DEWLP’s regulatory capacities were ineffective, and weak.
If the aim of the departments review of the Code is to increase the confidence of Victorians that they are effective and clear in their capacities, the changes should include stronger regulatory frameworks, and increased protections for Victoria’s threatened flora and fauna.
You can contact the environment minister personally at [email protected] thanking her for withdrawing the dangerous proposed changes to the Code and call on her to ensure stronger policies are implemented to halt Victoria’s extinction crisis.
We'll be keeping an eye on the process in the coming months to make sure changes are made in accordance with scientific recommendations, and to ensure a future for our threatened wildlife.
We live and work on the lands of the Gunaikurnai and Bidewell and Monero people. We acknowledge the thousands of years of their ongoing custodianship of the land and pay respect to elders past and present.