VicForests wiped out 8 ha of protected rainforest some time ago. In a first, the Department of Sustainability and Environment prosecuted them. However, after many adjournments of the case, on August 6th (2012) a behind the scenes deal was done instead.
After such a heinous crime, we were imagining VicForests being marched off in leg irons to the dungeon. But the DSE instead softened (to pressure from Baillieu’s mates?) and agreed to offer the accused – charged with 5 counts of criminal logging of rainforests - a 12 month try-a-bit-harder behavior bond. What citizen that destroys so much protected vegetation would ever be let off the hook so easily?
The agreement included making VicForests replant 22 ha of rainforest species (that should take 500 years to regrow), a promise to polish up their collective skills for identifying rainforest and to not destroy anymore for the next 12 months.
The implication was that it’s very difficult to identify rainforest species from gum trees – even a huge 8ha patch. For the past eight years VicForests has been caught destroying protected rainforests and its buffers in every audit of their logging operations. They have been warned, they have been trained by rainforest biologists, they have had a “Dummies guide to rainforest ID” picture book produced for them with colour photos – but still they say it’s just too difficult.
How ironic that DSE has let VicForests off from being prosecuted, while just days before, EEG’s lawyers served papers on DSE to appear in court to answer charges of not protecting rainforests.
All going to plan, we should have both DSE and VicForests in the Melbourne Supreme Court in late November. We are suing them for not protecting nationally significant rainforests here in East Gippy.
You can read the Age’s report on this DSE backstep here and VicForests take on it here (PDF)