"It is a mistake to think that emissions from fossil fuels can be negated by increasing or protecting the storage potential of forests and other land based carbon."
So says a new report from Brussels-based NGO FERN. The report exposes the myth that fossil fuel emissions can be offset by planting trees or preserving forests. The entire planet would need to be forested again to start soaking up the carbon lost from already destroyed forests, but the release of stored fossil carbon has no antidote but to stop turning it into CO2.
Is Victoria's new threatened species ‘action plan’ –really a ‘dither plan’ ?
Victoria’s backlog of almost 500 listed species that currently have no legal protection, have finally seen a plan* to plan for their protection.
Environment East Gippsland legally challenged the government’s neglect to write protection measures for most of the state’s rare species last June. It was settled in October 2013, but we're still concerned that 200-300 listed threatened wildlife and native plants could remain unprotected.
The 'plan to plan for the plans', was part of the out-of-court settlement agreed to by the Victorian government to detail how it intends to deal with the huge backlog of 474 rare and threatened wildlife and native plants that have no protection. But Minister Walsh’s department left out the details and offers no timeline for if, or when, they intend to complete all the species’ protection measures.
A few trite words are not enough. Targets, quantitative and time limited, with measurable KPIs are needed. Otherwise their plan is just a mickey mouse vague intention. As it stands, the plan does not hold them accountable and there is no penalty for failure to meet targets - which it doesn't specify.
The department has outlined how it intends to prioritise ‘a number’ of species over the next three years, but gives no assurance that it will urgently create enforceable protection plans for hundreds that can still be legally destroyed by logging, mining and development. We might only see 12 or 20 species gain legislated protection as a result of this.
It is ironic that the lawyers of the Environment Defenders Office who helped with this case are now endangered themselves, due to the Abbott Government’s sudden withdrawal of funds just before Christmas. But this is a clear sign that legal action against government’s failure to protect the environment is having an effect.
The Abbott government’s announcement to suddenly cut the funding of the Environment Defenders Office is a hostile, cowardly and shameless attack on the country’s most respected environmental legal voice.
Funding that was promised by the previous Labor government has been withdrawn and comes at a time when there is an unprecedented and unremitting attack on Australia’s environments from almost every front.
EEG, with the legal help from the EDO recently proved that the state government was breaching its own environment obligations and not protecting threatened species under the FFG Act.
The work of the EDO is critical. For years, when all other avenues of action have failed, the lawyers have been the champions that have protected rare wildlife, saved communities from toxic dumps, and many other important wins.
The EDO has often been the only means that ordinary people have to challenge bad environmental planning and laws being disregarded by governments and developers. Now more than ever the EDO needs to continue its essential work of rescuing Australia’s ailing environments.
There is already talk of using crowd-source funding to help continue their essential work. Go here to help keep their crucial work going ... http://www.givenow.com.au/edovic
Supreme Court shows wildlife protection laws are worthless
MyEnvironment's court appeal to stop logging of the small pockets of habitat where the critically endangered Leadbeaters Possum still survives ... was dismissed; they lost! The three judges found the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act is too weak to protect even the state's faunal emblem from extinction!
MyEnvironment, a community group and local champions of the Leadbeaters Possum, may now cease to exist because they have to pay VicForests’ legal costs of around a million dollars. Worse still, if Premier Napthine doesn't fix the law, if VicForests take their revenge and clearfell/burn the three stands of forest they were planning to last year, this amazing gliding possum will cease to exist on this planet.
The report into VicForests operations (the government's logging monopoly), condemns its lack of protection of environmental values but excuses the drain it puts on the state’s finances. There's no market for woodchips so trees are incinerated where they are felled. So why are they cut down?
Among many other shocking findings, the report shows that logging forests is criminally wasteful and no longer viable, especially so in East Gippsland.
The Auditor General’s report also notes that DEPI and VicForests still have limited ability to protect or even assess threatened wildlife in logging areas (p.34-36).
VicForests is burning 16% of the trees they log statewide, because they can't sell the low-value logs, even for chips(p.46).
East Gippsland’s forests have been over-logged and mills guaranteed quality sawlogs that aren’t there, so taxpayers are now paying the costs to truck good logs from the Central Highlands to East Gippsland.(p.47)
But most of Victoria’s low quality woodchip logs ended up sitting in log dumps with no buyer.(p.46.) It begs the question – why were they cut down in the first place?
The overseas market for woodchips to foreign paper factories - the main product from logging in East Gippsland, has suffered a significant collapse in the last couple of years. With no likelihood of recovery, the industry will continue to hemorrhage and cost the public millions before it self-destructs. The crime is that endangered wildlife and thousands of hectares of natural untouched forests will be obliterated before this happens.
Are you helping destroy native forests by eating greenhouse tomatoes?
In the Strathbogie forests northeast of Melbourne, Murphy Fresh, a hydroponic tomato farm at Bridge Creek is buying up to 10,000 tons of native forest logs a year to chip and burn to heat their greenhouses.
Murphy Fresh will be one of the largest, tomato grower in Australia when their new greenhouse is completed. They sell through Flavorite. Until recently they have been grown in heated environments using briquettes. This has not caused economic hardship judging by their expansion plans. The driving force behind this is the carbon tax. Burning forest wood is regarded as ‘renewable’ and therefore considered carbon neutral - thus is not taxed. Coal/briquettes on the other hand is taxed.
BOYCOTT FLAVORITE TOMATOES!
It's not just plantation Koalas
The recent ABC exposé of the horrific injuries and deaths of 1000s of Koalas, is just the tip of the wildlife destruction iceberg.
Koalas shredded and killed in plantation logging is appalling enough but imagine the thousands of gliders, nesting owls, ground dwelling mammals and others maimed and left to die in native forest clearfelling every day.
If VicForests was a private company it'd be financially (as well as morally) bankrupt. VicForests’ 2012-13 Annual Report is out. A small 'profit' was made this year - as a result of not having to pay big legal bills they said, but still no dividend paid to the public (government) for their use of, or more correctly - obliteration of, public property.
Us ‘anti forestry’ groups are just ‘wasting hundreds of thousands of tax-payers dollars’ their media release claimed (EEG gets a special mention ). But let's ignore the fact that VicForests has cost tax-payers $22 million since it began operations. And ignore the fact that if it didn't illegally log rainforest and threatened wildlife habitat all the time, they wouldn't be taken to court.
Last year VicForests promised a $1.2 million dividend to the public purse but ended up paying zilch. Next year they promise us $250,000. If they keep this promise, that's just $50 for every hectare of wildlife-filled forest, carbon storage, water production and clean air they destroy.
EEG successfully takes legal action against government neglect of environmental laws - #3
EEG and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) have applied for our case to be discontinued in the Supreme Court after an out-of-court agreement was reached.
We took action to sue the government over its disregard for its own laws. We asked it to write protection plans for four out of 374 Victorian threatened species. Started in May, it was to be heard on 30th of this month (Oct).
The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act states that as soon as a species is listed as threatened it must have a protection plan, called an Action Statement, drawn up ‘as soon as possible’. The four species chosen to test this law (the Glossy Black Cockatoo, the Long-nosed Potoroo, the Large Brown Tree Frog and the Eastern She-Oak skink) have been waiting for an Action Statement for between 10 and 18 years. We felt this can't be legally interpreted as ‘as soon as possible’!
The EDO represented us and our supporters funded this third successful legal case. :-)
Our rare wildlife is formally listed and acknowledged under law as being threatened, but over half receive no protection from logging, mining or development. Day by day, their survival becomes even more precarious as their habitat is destroyed by VicForests - with impunity!
DEPI has agreed to write a protection plan for each of these species within the next eight months. Minister Walsh’s department has also agreed to prepare a plan to deal with the massive backlog of threatened species still without protection plans (370). We don't know if this document will contain anything of substance or be made publicly available.
We will be watching to see if the Action Statements are strongly worded to ensure protection of wildlife, or designed to protect the ongoing destruction of their habitat, as has been the case for about 20 years.
Thanks again to the EDO and our generous supporters for helping ensure the government is held to account on the environment.
THE IMMORAL GOVERNMENT
This Opinion Piece by Jill is on the ABC's environment page and has generated over 100 comments.
"Why, in a developed country should small regional volunteer groups, which run on a meagre budget, be forced to take on the behemoth monster that is the government? The answer is that our democracy is a façade behind which vested interests and large exploitative corporations call the shots."
This short video explains how forests and our climate are so closely connected. Forests are our greatest land based carbon stores, shade the earth, moderate our climate and provide clouds and rainfall.