Premier Daniel Andrews secretly extended the 20 year RFA logging deal for East Gippsland with no review, assessment or public knowledge, one day before it was due to expire. This is an astoundingly irresponsible move considering that in the week before, VicForests admitted there are not enough forests left to keep the sawlog supply going.
The call by the Auswest sawmill and Tim Bull for long term log contracts to be renewed (EGN/SRM 2 Nov) is a misguided ‘Magic Pudding’ mindset, according to Environment East Gippsland.
“Long term contracts are not being signed because there has been serious uncertainty of resource availability for quite a while”, said Jill Redwood from EEG. “The government initiated Forest Taskforce is currently looking into whether native forests can keep providing logs into the future. It appears this could now be very limited and so would be fiscally irresponsible to keep promising logs that might not be there.”
After much blood, sweat and tears, the Forest Taskforce finally gave birth to the long awaited agreed position called the Statement of Claim on Friday 9th September. The basic details are... there needs to be 2 VEAC enquiries - one on our forests and their natural values and one looking at what 'resource' is left for industry. There needs to be carbon accounting, law reform and a changed future plan for industry (based on plantations we hope).
A Greater Glider forest refuge was being clearfelled by VicForests through July and August in an extremely provocative act while taskforce members negotiated. This created extreme volatility between the government, its Forest Taskforce (set up to solve Vic’s long and bitter forest dispute), environment groups and VicForests. The logging coupes in our current legal case are all part of it.
In line with the Taskforce Terms of Reference, those representing the industry, union and enviro groups have refined the agreed opportunities for industry and conservation changes. This includes the establishment of new parks and reserves, threatened species, wood supply security, industry investment, measuring and valuing forest carbon, jobs and regional employment, review and reform regulations (laws), the future shape of the industry and the future shape of conservation and the parks system.
In an act described as "tactical hooliganism" VicForests' contractors started logging a stand of contentious high value forest NW of the Errinundra National Park last week. They had previously agreed not to log this site while the Premier’s Forest Taskforce negotiations were underway.
“We see this as a flashpoint in the process” said Jill Redwood of Environment East Gippsland. “VicForests knows full well that industry and environment group negotiations are at a critical point of finalising an important document”.