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Government fights to continue old growth logging as Supreme Court trial continues

This morning, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) will defend the Government’s continued logging of old growth forests in the face of vehement community opposition, as the trial Fauna and Flora Research Collective Inc  v The Secretary to DELWP and VicForests resumes in Victoria’s Supreme Court, for its final 3 days.

Fauna and Flora Research Collective (FFRC) -  represented by Environmental Justice Australia -  is seeking to enforce the protection of the minimum area of old-growth forest required by law across East Gippsland (60% of old growth wet and damp forest), a measure the Government has failed to implement.

An old growth tree in Granite Mountain logging coupe
An ancient tree inside the Granite Mountain coupe currently being logged.

FFRC legal action has so far halted planned logging in thirty four areas of old growth forest. However, logging continues in further areas of old growth forest across East Gippsland with a community blockade preventing logging for 9 days at Granite Mountain broken just last Tuesday 12 February.

In the past two weeks alone, the Premier has received over 5,000 emails stating that old growth logging is unacceptable and that logging at Granite Mt must stop. Old growth logging is also taking place in Cottonwood Range forest west of Bendoc.

“Old growth forests have been eliminated from almost all of Victoria, what we have in East Gippsland is incredibly unique. To destroy what remains of these ancient forests is reckless and short sighted beyond belief,” said Dave Caldwell.

“Victorians are disgusted that old growth logging continues in 2019. The fact that trees hundreds of years old and vital habitat for threatened species are still being pulped to make paper beggars belief.  The Andrew’s Government must act in the interests of all Victorian’s and immediately protect the last fragments of our ancient natural heritage before it is lost forever,” he said.

“In a time of climate crisis when we have just experienced our hottest month on record, it is incredibly irresponsible of the Government to allow the continued destruction of our carbon storing forests. Stopping deforestation is internationally recognised as critical to mitigating catastrophic climate change. Old growth forests store huge amounts of carbon that is released when they are logged and burnt,” he said.

Logging of old growth forests continues across East Gippsland despite a key witness for DELWP conceding under cross-examination in December during trial, that the Department’s position on logging old growth forests is that it should cease entirely.

GECO pays respect to the long and continuing custodianship of these forests by the traditional owners of East Gippsland, the Gunnai-Kurnai, Bidewell and Monero people. We pay respect to their elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

Hearing details: Tuesday 19 – Thursday 21 February 2019, Court 6, William Cooper Justice Centre, Supreme Court, Third Floor 223 William Street, Melbourne. A decision will be made in the months following the hearing.

Media contacts:

Dave Caldwell – 0477 108 665
Fiona York – 0449 554 142
[email protected]

High resolution still images and vision available on request. Contact Sarah Day 0474 735 678 / [email protected].

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