Originally published on the The Age website
Two environmentalists who entered an East Gippsland logging coupe to document the destruction of rainforest have had charges against them dismissed.
The court decision is the final chapter on what has been a two-year saga for Ed Hill and Joe Henderson, whose actions led to the state government conceding it needed to bolster timber harvesting rules – but who were then charged on summons with illegally entering the logging zone.
A giant cut-tail ash tree logged and left behind on the edge of rainforest gully. Photo: Goongerah Environment Centre
Two conservationists from Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) had charges dismissed in the Orbost Magistrates Court today. Ed Hill and Joe Henderson were prosecuted for entering a logging area where they documented and reported logging of protected rainforest in East Gippsland in April 2015.
Hill and Henderson submitted a report documenting the logging breach to the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP). The DELWP investigation found a rainforest area that was consistent with the minimum requirements to trigger legal protection, had been subject to ‘unwarranted destruction’ by loggers under the control of VicForests. Despite this conclusion the Department decided not to take any regulatory action.
Logging has been stopped for the second time in one week in the Goongerah forest block.
Last week VicForests were forced to stop logging at Mt. Jersey after GECO raised concerns with the state government about the threat logging posed to the endangered large brown tree frog and the unlawful nature of the operation that had commneced without a survey for protected species.
After exiting Mt. Jersey, VicForests moved into old growth forest on Yalmy rd in the Goongerah water catchment. This coupe is just 1.5kms from a recent detection of the endangered large brown tree frog and forms important habitat for a number of rare and threatened species. GECO conducted a survey of the creek lines and found several Endangered Orbost Spiny crayfish.
Logging has been stopped by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) in forest near Goongerah.
The forest is habitat for the endangered large brown tree frog (Litoria littlejohni), a species thought to be extinct from Victoria until rediscovered by GECO volunteers last year. The frog is only know in Victoria from six recently recorded sites.
Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) has sent a report to the state government detailing illegal logging at Mt. Jersey in East Gippsland. GECO are concerned that logging is impacting on habitat for the Endangered large brown tree frog and protected rainforest.
The large brown tree frog (Litoria littlejohni) was thought to be extinct from Victoria until ecologist and GECO volunteer Rena Gaborov heard it calling in two locations last year. It was the first time the frog had been heard or seen in over 15 years.
VicForests has placed boundary tapes marking out an area of endangered species habitat on Mt. Jersey, near Goongerah.
This area is a stronghold for the endangered Large Brown Tree-frog (Litoria littlejohni). The frog was thought to be possibly extinct from Victoria until last year GECO volunteer Rena Gaborov heard it calling in forest near Goongerah. It had not been seen or heard in Victoria for over 15 years.
The frog has only been recorded in six locations since its rediscovery last year. All of these new locations have been found, documented and reported by GECO volunteers. The state government have not conducted enough surveys to properly asses the very rare and cryptic frogs status.
The forest that VicForests plan to commence logging this week is just 550m from the site where GECO volunteers recorded the frog just two months ago.
Over fifty people converged in Goongerah this weekend for the ninth GECO citizen science survey camp. People from across Gippsland, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra took part in old growth forest walks, forest carbon accounting surveys, remote fauna camera deployment and data collection, spotlighting surveys for greater gliders and rainforest mapping.
We had a busy time at our citizen science camp last weekend, surveying forests threatened by logging. We deployed five fauna cameras for endangered Spot-tailed Quolls and Long Footed Potoroos, surveyed for Greater Gliders and mapped areas of protected rainforest, all within VicForests scheduled logging coupes.
Today is National Threatened Species Day, held each year to commemorate the tragic death of the last Tasmanian Tiger that died in captivity in Hobart in 1936.
GECO campaigners Ed Hill and Joe Henderson appeared in the Bairnsdale Magistrates Court today. They’ve been charged with entering a logging area. It is alleged they did so to document and expose logging of protected rainforest.
The charges have now been listed for contested hearing in Court at a later date.Read more