VicForests has been caught out logging protected rainforest again. Logging commenced last week in high conservation value wet forest on the border of the Kuark and Murrungower forest blocks. This area is a stronghold for warm temperate rainforest, which is protected by law. An inspection of this coupe has revealed unlawful logging of rainforest buffer zones. We've collected evidence of the rainforest logging breaches and reported it to the Department of Environment, who are supposed to make sure rainforest is protected from VicForests logging operations. Once again the Victorian government has failed to protect rainforest from VicForests and allowed unlawful logging to occur.
Rainforest logging is an all too common occurrence in East Gippsland, despite the protections granted to it under the law VicForests consistently fail to identify and implement the required protections and the Department of Environment consistently fail to enforce the rules. The department are now investigating, only after receiving the information we provided. Once again we're doing their job for them, acting as the unofficial regulator of the logging industry.
Rainforest is also present in other areas of the coupe that have not yet been reached by the logging crew, including mapped rainforest in the south east of the coupe that VicForests are making their way towards now. This section of rainforest coincides with a liner reserve. Under the logging rules a 100m vegetative buffer is required for rainforest stands that coincide with linear reserves. Logging operations have already breached this 100m buffer and will continue to impact upon the rainforest area if regulatory action is not taken.
We submitted a second report to the department, detailing this additional rainforest breach. They have since informed us an investigation will take place. Sadly the damage has already been done.
We are calling on the department to halt the logging, prosecute VicForests for the rainforest breaches that have occurred and identify and protect other areas of rainforest in the coupe that could be impacted on by continued logging.
This area of forest forms a critical link between the Kuark Forest and the low lands forest closer to the coast. The area is a stronghold for rainforest, less than 1km form this logging coupe is the 'Scatterbrain' coupe, where VicForests illegally logged 8 hectares of protected rainforest in 2012. The Department actually acted in this case and commenced proceedings against VicForests in the courts. The proceedings never went ahead and an out of court settlement was reached in which VicForests committed to train staff in rainforest identification so required protections could be better implemented.
Logging continues to impact upon protected rainforest areas in 2016, clearly VicForests staff have a lot more to learn.
Photo: Blackwood logs, potentially from closed canopy rainforest areas
This logging coupe has not been subject to a pre logging ecological survey and impact assessment to identify protected species and plant communities. VicForests are obligated to conduct these surveys to ensure their operations are not unlawfully impacting upon protected species and so legally required protection measures can be put in place. The area is high quality habitat for a number of protected species and has not been logged in the past. The vast majority of the coupe has no logging history and contains stands of hollow bearing trees likely to support hollow dependent species such as Yellow bellied gliders, Greater gliders and threatened large forest owls. Habitat for the endangered Long-footed potoroo is also present throughout the coupe. Logging is continues unrestricted this week.
Photo: Rainforest stand not given the legally required vegetative buffer.
Photo: Bulldozer track in coupe, forest here about to be flattened.
Photo: rare small fork fern in rainforest impacted by logging
Photo: Wet forest inside the coupe, probably logged by now.
Photo: Active logging going down the wet gully.
Photo: Logged wet forest, trees in right of pic about to be logged.
Map: Area of rainforest within logging coupe that has not been given legally required buffers