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Environment East Gippsland Forest Update

Winter greetings. This June update includes;

  1. World Environment Day – observe with a letter to the Minister – attached
  2. TAX time – please DONATE to EEG (for more fun court action)
  3. The BAILLIEU GOVERNMENT and the environment
  4. THE CLIMATE COMMISSION – forests finally get a look–in
  5. TREE PHOTOS needed – for book
  6. DSE gives TREE COUNTING job to VicForests
  7. MARKETS FOR CHANGE – new forest group starts up
  8. VicForests appoints a new ‘CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST’!
  9. ‘CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST’ get's it wrong – and worrying quotes
  10. REFLEX paper action upsets govt.
  11. REFLEX'S GREEN TICK to be officially STRIPPED
  12. REFLEX's parent company makes big loss
  13. $4 MILLION to cure smoky grapes
  14. YOUNGN'S wanted – to lobby their polly
  15. ORBOST Chamber of COMMERCE and LOGGING
  16. WOODCHIP MILL wants to get into making forest pellets to BURN
  18. WOODCHIPPERS export more for less profit
  19. TWEG moves in – to promote BIOMASS

1) It is World Environment Day! (*** sigh***)
To participate from home, please download this Word document letter to Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, urging him to not include burning forests as 'renewable energy'. Of course, you could simply use the letter as a guide and use your own words!
You could digitally sign, PDF it, download a free PDF maker(4MB) here and email it to him at
or print it and send by post.
A copy of the letter is also at the end of this E bulletin.

2) Tax donations
It's June already! All donations over $2 are tax deductible. Please help us out by sending any spare end of year cash to EEG before the tax man gets it. You can:
  • go online and send via PayPal here
  • email us for our bank details for a direct deposit here
  • send a cheque made out to Environment East Gippsland Forest Fund and post to EEG‚ Locked Bag 3‚ ORBOST 3888.
Tax receipts will be issued within the week.
We're still waiting for VicForests to abide by the court order and pay 90% of our legal costs for the Brown Mountain court win – 9 months on!

3) Baillieu's environmental record

Despite the Coalition repeatedly promising to release their environment policy before the state election in November 2010‚ it never showed up. They decided it was strategically easier to not talk about the environment.
Though the Baillieu Government did promise to retain the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) and give some modest help to Landcare and for tree planting initiatives. However‚ they look set to:
  • Let cattle graze through our Alpine National Park.
  • Support more logging on public lands.
  • Interpret the Royal Commission's recommendations so as to burn much more forest and woodlands each year than needed‚ while any environmental monitoring is tokenistic.
  • Review and weaken the Native Vegetation Framework and land clearing regulations.
  • Target roadside vegetation (often remnant) to be cleared and/or burnt to keep country voters happy.
  • Take new Marine Parks off their agenda
And who knows if they’ll try to dam the Mitchell or any other river.

4) CLIMATE COMMISSION – on forests
The Feds Climate Commission released a report on Monday 23rd. A recommendation on pg 58 says:
This framework underscores the importance of eliminating
harvesting of old-growth forests as perhaps the most
important policy measure that can be taken to reduce
emissions from land ecosystems.

Not bad ay. In fact they don't just mention old growth but the potential for the regrowth forests to also play a large part in the climate solution. It also said:
In general, forests with high carbon storage capacities are those in relatively cool, moist climates that have fast growth coupled with low decomposition rates, and older, complex, multi-aged and layered forests with minimal human disturbance...
And that ending logging now:
yields some quick gains while the slower process of transforming energy and transport systems unfolds
It said that if logged forests were left alone to regrow and capture carbon as they should, about 7.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide could be stored in them again.
Read more here

5) BOOK on EG trees/forests
Can those photographers out there please check your files of East Gippsland and see if you have any you'd be willing to offer for a new book on eucalypts to promote this region's forests. It's not a field guide so much as a coffee table type book with beautiful images that will win people over. We need specky ones of Bloodwoods, Snow Gums, Rock Mallee (at Lt River Gorge), Spinning or Tingaringi Gum, Sthn Mahogany, Coastal Grey Box, Ironbark or whatever else that you might have brilliantly arty shots of. Please email them here and we can discuss using them. Thanks.

6) SAD BUT TRUE – DSE gives tree counting over to VicForests
We have just finished analysing DSE's capacity to accurately predict the amount of timber available for loggers. At a time when the Victorian Government is hell bent on moving ahead with the native log incinerator for power, the figures show that over VicForests first 5 years of operation, DSE overestimated the amount of timber trees by almost 40%. This meant that the loggers got 160,000 cubic metres less timber than expected. And the Victorian Government's response to this fiasco? Under the new Timber Industry plan, the job of predicting the amount of timber and calculating the sustainable yield has been handed over to Vicforests!

7) MARKETS FOR CHANGE – new Aussie forest group starts up
In early May Markets for Change (MFC) was launched. They are a new markets focused environment group that will target the business sector, beginning with wood products. They will campaign to reform retailers , government and industry to protect native forests, using the market to help them.
Their first research report entitled 'Retailing the Forests: Confronting the Australian Retail Sector's Involvement in Native Forest Destruction' can be downloaded as an executive summary or full report at
This has upset the latest logging lobby group ,the Australian Forest Products Association. The AFPA was formed through the co–joining of the National Association of Forest Industries and the Australian Plantation Products and Paper Industry Council. Allan Hansard is their chief executive. He put out a garbled media release that tried hard to sound sensible. They threw in every tired line they've used for years. “Australia is short of timber. All the plantation companies have gone bust. The overseas demand for our wood has slowed, but we need resource security to log native forests. All the forests we've converted to plantations in Tassie aren't sustainable, but we need to log more forests to sell overseas to balance all the imports we bring in ...” . Their spin was in a terrible tangle.
To read more:
Markets for Change Campaigns Manager is Louise Morris:
(02) 6230 4844 Mobile : 0487 915 905.

8) VICFORESTS new ‘BIODIVERSITY SPECIALIST’ – wet behind the ears.
VicForests has started a new propaganda sheet called “VicForests Views”. In the first issue we see the identity of their mysterious ‘Conservation Biologist’ who did such an appalling job putting together procedures for carrying out fauna surveys. She is clearly out of her depth or deliberately writing procedures to lessen the likelihood of finding rare wildlife.
This is Dr Chela Powell, whose PhD was on the impact of blue gum plantations on arthropod communities. It appears she has no background in the conservation of native plants and animals threatened by logging and has spent time doing her PhD at Melbourne Uni Forestry school!
She will coordinate fauna surveys before logging and suggest ways to protect what might be found. She said in a media release:
“VicForests is looking to move away from small scale studies [pre-logging surveys] to undertake surveys which extend across the broader landscape and different forest types“ [into National Parks instead of logging zones?]
Looks like Chela has just been issued with the standard VicForests trowel and steaming bucket full‚ and been told to apply it thickly.

9) DANGER – VicForests plays conservation biology
VicForests Survey Procedures document (1.1) is full of errors – on almost every page. Any true conservation biologist would be embarrassed to put their name to statements that claim Tuans prefer Shining Gum forests! (they in fact live in drier Central Victorian box-ironbark forests). She has no clue as to what seasons the rare frogs call, or when to spotlight for gliders and possums and so on. Even accepting that she has only studied bugs in plantations, her ability to research is shocking. So any data gathered, or more likely not gathered, will be invalid using these procedures.
EEG has sent a complaint to VicForests with examples of the many faults in the documents asking that it be rewritten and errors taken out.
From the Pre-logging Survey Process document (1.7)
VicForests wishes to further demonstrate precaution in its approach to species identification and protection ,... [as it has so clearly demonstrated in the past?]
This plan will be peer reviewed by the Planning Manager/Senior Forester Operations Planning and/or Manager Tactical Planning and/or Conservation Biologist, and once this is complete harvesting can commence under the amended prescriptions.
[The survey process document to be peer reviewed by a bunch of foresters and maybe their ‘conservation biologist’ who thinks Tuans live in East Gippsland – then go log the area!].
VicForests Tactical Planning team will determine where preharvest fauna surveys are required.
[Again, tree counters – and they don't even show competency in that – will appoint themselves as experts to determine where rare wildlife might live.]
...generally only consider species which: ... Are able to be detected using a readily applicable method
[the catch is how those with logging interests will define 'readily applicable']

10) REFLEX – action!
The Yarra Ranges Council has agreed to boycott the use of Reflex paper. This has upset the new state Coalition Government. Reflex is made from their local Mountain Ash forests and from public forests in Melbourne’s water catchment.
The government, via Ag Minister Walsh, has warned the council that if they don't keep using Reflex paper, the planned move of a VicForests office into their area (which oversees the destruction of the region’s forests) won't go ahead, and the whole shire face losing the 20–40 jobs that might come with it. Last we heard the council wasn't quivering in the corner.
“We feel strongly that the pledge is an accurate reflection of our commitment to sustainability, protection of the environment, corporate social responsibility and local community needs,“ the Mayor Terry Avery said.
He said the council would not back down.
Read the full article :
EEG has signed on to the pledge not to use Reflex paper. Please join the growing number of people and businesses who are helping forests.
Click here and join up.
And click here for a list of eco-friendly alternative copy paper.

11) Reflex to be stripped of its tick
While this has been going on, the international forest certifying body, FSC, is set to strip its 'green tick' off the Reflex paper brand. This was obtained by dubious means 5 years ago and green groups have been trying to correct this ever since.
It will mean the makers of Reflex, Australian Paper, will have to move to the loggers–own dodgy eco–certification tick, or move their operations into plantations. This has slightly upset VicForests and Australian Paper.
Read the full article at

12) PaperlinX expects loss of $23–30m
PaperlinX, owned by Nippon Paper, and where Reflex paper is made, says weak economic conditions around the world and the high local dollar will result in weak markets and no profits for the 2011 financial year.
PaperlinX said the already depressed Australian print market was being further affected by the high Australian dollar.
Read the full article at

13) $4m to smoke out wine taint
Besides the damage that's done to the many ecosystems that are torched, valuable wine vintages are tainted from autumn prescribed burn smoke. A core commitment from the state Coalition is to commit $4 million to establish a Centre of Expertise to find ways to reduce the impact of smoke taint, which has caused serious losses to grape growers and wineries.
What a shame the loss of species diversity doesn't score the same sort of money and a Centre of Expertise.
Read the full article at

14) Calling young people (under 25s) to help with a climate campaign!
Not strictly forests but forests and climate are closely linked. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) is running a campaign called Meet Your Member.
They want thousands of young people to meet all 226 Members of Parliament and Senators in the next 100 days. And Darren Chester from Gippsland is next on the list.
They know that the Government will introduce carbon–pricing legislation in the second half on the year, what we don't know is how effective it will be. The next few months are critical. Help make sure they get it right. Polluter–funded lobbyists walk the halls of Parliament week in and week out and this loud and powerful minority have now stepped up their campaign against a strong price on pollution.
AYCC doesn't have thousands of dollars ...but are going to match the lobbyists with thousands of passionate young people, speaking out to reduce pollution and move to clean energy.
This can have a huge impact on the decisions being made – right now.
If you are a young person – or know some – who are interested in meeting the local member (wherever you are), please get in touch. Email Rufus Coffield at, or call 0432 995 855. AYCC will provide all the support, resources, and ideas to make the meeting with your member a good one.

15) Orbost Chamber of Commerce and LOGGING

This letter (text below) will throw a cat in amongst the rats. Garry Squires was the regional manager of DSE, then awarded a contract to oversee all logging in EG to a local mill, then resigned and became CEO of that company just months later, then was very heavily implicated in the looting of the Snowy National Park's forests during the '03 fires and inquiry into it – and we could go on. But now he runs a private logging consultancy and has been working hard to get government support for a forest furnace in East Gippy. This plan has now changed to a pellet mill, where trees are pulverised into tiny bits and pressed into small pellets to burn. This can then be sold overseas to those who want to fuel power generators by destroying forests!

Dear Sir,
Over the years the Orbost Chamber of Commerce has begged the residents of Orbost to "shop locally", however I believe the latest meddling by the Chamber and its Secretary, the logging industry lobbyist Mr Gary Squires, has trashed any trust, respect or sympathy we should have for businesses represented by the Chamber.
Why would anyone that loves the forests of East Gippsland and the beautiful durable timbers that they can produce, choose to spend their money at businesses, who through their Chamber, are demanding politicians allow our public forests to be treated like an open–cut mine and clear–felled to produce the lowest value forest product of them all, fuel pellets for over–seas power stations.
The Orbost Chamber of Commerce should immediately publish the identity of Orbost shops and businesses whose owners voted to support the wood–pellet scheme being promoted by Mr Squires. In that way consumers will be able to support businesses according to their support for or against Mr Squires and his pellet scheme. The President of the Orbost Chamber of Commerce should also state for the public record, whether the position taken by its Secretary, Mr Gary Squires, is the official position of the Chamber of Commerce.
Over the past month Mr Squires has gone into overdrive in this newspaper, on local radio and in approaches to local politicians, promoting his forest into fuel-pellet scheme. But each time he makes a comment he seems to change his identity. On ABC local radio a month ago, it was Gary Squires, acting as the Secretary of the Orbost Chamber of Commerce, who was telling the listener that Orbost would become a ghost town if the wood–pellet scheme was not allowed to commence.
Then a few weeks ago we had an article appearing in this newspaper where Mr Squires changes his identity again, and became a timber industry consultant from the organisation, GMS Consulting. Then in last week's Snowy, it's once again Gary Squires, Secretary Orbost Chamber of Commerce.
If we remember back to last year when Mr Squires, the Liberal MP, Philip Davis, and the Japanese Nippon Paper chip mill at Eden, were furiously promoting their latest scheme, the wood-fired power station, (remember that). At that time it was Gary Squires describing himself as just a local resident. When a writer to this newspaper last year asked Mr Squires to declare whether he was being employed as a consultant by any of the companies advocating the power-station scheme, he failed to respond. Instead various logging industry front groups and a spokesman for the Japanese Nippon Paper launched a savage personal attack against a resident of Orbost who had written a few letters to the paper criticising the scheme.
Clearly there is a conflict of interest between Mr Squire's roles as a prominent logging industry consultant engaged in the promotion of a divisive forest exploitation scheme, whilst at the same time holding a Board position in the Orbost Chamber of Commerce. Both Mr Squires and the Orbost Chamber of Commerce must declare whom it is that Mr Squires is "consulting" for in relation to this latest forest conversion scheme, and what are his obligations under that contract. That declaration must include a statement explaining Mr Squire's public relations role as part of his consultancy and whether he is being employed to create public support for the scheme on behalf of its backers.
Rick Willis.

16) FROM CHIPS TO PELLETS – Eden woodchip mill applies for a permit.
The big Japanese export woodchipper based at Eden, SEFE, wants to build a pellet plant too. Bega Valley Shire has recently deferred a decision on whether to reject or approve the pellet plant. The woodchip market has gone a bit flat so they're looking to find new and evil ways to keep chopping, chipping and shipping.
If given the OK, it would see hundreds of thousands of tones of forests and woodchips from Southern NSW and East Gippsland made into small pellets to be burnt overseas to produce electricity.
Before the council had time to decide on this new project, SEFE had already ordered and taken possession of the machinery from China to make these pellets. Do they know something or are they just over–cocky?
It's claimed to be a small “pilot plant”. But wasn't their initial woodchipping proposal in the late 60s for a mere 5,000 tonnes for only 5 years? For decades they've been exporting around a million tones of our forests a year.
Just when Australia is finally waking up to the importance of our native forests in combating climate change (see Climate Commission report in this update), will the Bega Valley Shire lead the charge backwards to aid and abet the cutting down and burning of more forests?

17) Figures on Emissions from Logging in Australia
Here's a handy extract from the CSIRO's recent (4th April 2011) report – Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia,
“It may also be possible to increase carbon stocks in stands of managed native
forests. Based on the findings of the Green carbon report, CSIRO has examined the
idea that harvesting of native forests reduces carbon stocks and cessation of
harvesting activities in native forests would allow carbon stocks to build...”
“It is important to realise that native forests dominate the carbon and water cycles in
Australia and that climate change poses a significant threat to native forests and to
their carbon stocks...”
Steve Meacher

18) Woodchippers export more for less profit

Work done by Chipstop campaigner, Harriett Swift, shows the big Eden chipmill (that devours East Gippsland’s forests), is having to export a bigger quantity of woodchips for each dollar of profit it makes.
Information from the latest Annual Report of South East Fibre Exports (ex-Daishowa), released in mid May shows that just 3 years ago, SEFE exported a similar quantity (1,071,841 tonnes) of woodchips but made more than twice its most recent profit.
The report to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission for the calendar year 2010 shows that SEFE exported 1,033,195 tonnes (up 29.6%) to make a profit of $4,331,756 (up 11.4%). In 2007 the profit was an obscene $9 million.
All this comes while the two state forest agencies in Victoria and NSW continue to make a huge loss that is underwritten by State taxpayers.
Harriet said that this shows it's impossible to claim the industry is sustainable.
“While it may still be delivering short term profits to Nippon Paper, its Japanese parent, it is clearly living on borrowed time.” she said.

19) TWEG – twies to tweat us like twerps
TWEG – that's The Wood Energy Group – is a global mob organised around pushing for bioenergy – – using biological things like forests, crops and so on, to run cars and planes and make power foryour toaster. They say they'll give us expert information on the great potential for bioenergy in Oz, and all about the technology, economics, benefits and models others are using.
TWEG includes people from Sweden, Canada, Austria, China, Germany, Spain, Denmark, India, Netherlands, Finland and New Zealand (and now Australia). They have experts in how to use language to dupe the masses (like 'waste'), lobbying pollies, getting the most out of a carbon tax etc. TWEG is a full member of the World Bioenergy Association (

Jill Redwood
Environment East Gippsland Inc

FORESTS - our breathing space!

Letter to Greg Combet...

The Hon Greg Combet,
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
PO Box 6022
Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Minister Combet,

RE: Please rule out forests for biomass

I request that you seek immediately to amend the government's Renewable Energy (RE)
legislation to rule out using any native forest wood 'waste' for energy or biofuels production. Burning native forest wood is included as a source of renewable energy in the government's RE legislation only because it has arbitrarily given the logging of Australia's native forests a zero emissions value. In fact, deforestation and forest degradation is responsible for over 15% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. That is roughly as much as the whole transport sector.

Far from being renewable energy, evidence suggests it is more emissions intensive than
burning coal1+2. Scientists and NGOs are warning of serious environmental consequences 3
and urging governments to consider the source of the biomass before calling it 'renewable' 4.
Allowing the production of energy from native forest biomass to be called 'renewable' will:
  • Lock in decades more clearfelling and destruction of native forests.
  • Further damage biodiversity and condemn more animal species to extinction.
  • Generate more carbon emissions per unit of energy than burning coal.
  • Compete with the renewables that will help us chart a low-carbon future.
The time is now right for Australia to stop logging all of its native forests5 and putting part of the proposed carbon tax towards restoring and protecting them. I call upon the federal government to support a genuine clean energy future for Australia by removing native forest biomass as a 'renewable' energy source from the RE legislation and to recognise in its carbon accounting that logging native forests and producing electricity from native forest biomass is not carbon neutral.
Yours sincerely,


(your name and full address)

5 The Climate Commission report ‘The Critical Decade’ (2011, p58) has stated that eliminating native forest logging is the most
important immediate policy measure that could be taken to reduce carbon emissions.