- A high five for Gliders
- Forest Taskforce progress
- Our two legal actions - Kuark and the Owls
- Update on storm-trashed woodchip jetty
- VicForests to employ field ecologist in EG
- Fed election outcome
- Extinct White-footed Rabbit Rat bones discovered
- Film on Victoria's logging - crowd funding
SCIENCE and REPORTS
- Old growth - climate mitigators extraordinaire
- Vital economic statistics on logging
- Plants' underground communication systems
- UK's new enviro minister a worry
- Feral animals - parliamentary enquiry
High drama turned into a High five!
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.
After weeks of intense work by our four enviro reps, the survey team's persistence and by EEG and our expert lawyers, VicForests finally wrote to our lawyers on 11th
August saying they were pulling out! The government has ordered a survey to verify Greater Gliders in threshold numbers that would protect 100 ha. We suspect VicForests will move into another high value area soon, so the battle continues. Read more here
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.
Basic information about the Taskforce is available here.
We hope to see VicForests have to curtail its unrestrained 12 year logging orgy in eastern Victoria. Read more here
With the help of our lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia (EJA)
we continue to press ahead with the Supreme Court case against logging in the Kuark forest coupes where numerous rare species and other values have been identified. Mediation is listed for 24th
August. These coupes have also been requested for interim protection for the duration of Taskforce negotiations.
Recently a suspected new species of crayfish was discovered in the disputed forest, adding to the information being used in the case. The Writ
can be read here. The background to the case
can be found here.
Owls protected areas
The last point of this agreed legal settlement states DELWP must consider the information from the studies it completed by 1st July this year. The study it commissioned should inform DELWP whether further protection is needed for threatened owls. Both DELWP's and Dr Bilney's studies and reports recommend on-ground surveys and hollow-bearing tree assessments in the fire-affected owl zones to properly understand impacts. If the previous owl protection zones are now heavily degraded, or where owls are absent, it suggests replacement zones. We have written to the new Environment Minister asking how DELWP will go about the final step in the settlement agreement.
Storm-trashed woodchip mill - update
Last month the first clunky attempt to load woodchips - minus wharf and conveyor belt began.
It was incredibly slow and took 8 chip trucks about 45 minutes each to load, drive around to the nearby navy wharf and unload to a makeshift conveyor belt. This constant convoy over 5 days isn't the most cost effective way to load woodchips. This is about 7 times less efficient than when they were filling ship hulls at the chip mill's (now damaged) loading facilities. This is not a long-term viable solution - and the rebuilding of the jetty looks pretty remote.
The Tathra public wharf was also damaged during the storm but has been denied an insurance payout for the repairs needed. It's assumed the chipmill would be in the same boat (pardon pun) with its insurance company. Read more here
VicForests to employ an East Gipp Field Ecologist
We have grave concerns that VicForests is positioning itself to carry out its own surveys in forests planned for logging. After our 2010 Supreme Court win over Brown Mountain VicForests have hired independent expert consultant biologists to do the work - albeit minimal. This recently advertised new position points to a backward move. There is a clear conflict of interest and pre-logging surveys will have very little credibility if this is allowed. More importantly the organisation needs to change its criteria for deciding which areas are surveyed and what species are looked for. Currently these flaws see extremely important forest habitat, rare plants and animals destroyed daily.
2016 Federal Election - Key points
The Federal election saw both good and bad results.
The Turnbull govt was returned with a much decreased margin of one, but the Senate has a larger number of small parties and independents on the cross-bench, making it more difficult to get legislation passed. The Greens went from 10 down to 9 Senators (losing one from SA's two) with Adam Bandt re-elected to the House of Reps. It was extremely close in Batman and Melb Ports with Wills showing a lot of green spirit as well. Melbourne's north is quite a hot bed of progressive voters. Not so in Gippsland though.
Gippsland, traditionally a stronghold of the conservative voter, returned Darren Chester with a 2.6% swing in his favour.
Josh Frydenburg now has a newly created and contradictory portfolio of environment and energy. He was formerly the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia and is a big supporter of coal.
Good news - the Tasmanian Senator who was the federal parliamentary secretary responsible for forestry, Senator Richard Colbeck, has lost his seat!
For 14 years, Senator Colbeck supported logging and woodchipping. He endorsed forests being cut down and burnt in power generators while declaring the ANU science on forests and carbon was bollocks. He also promoted the logging of protected National Parks as a means to reduce bushfires.
White footed rabbit rat fossil
Mystery bones found in the Buchan caves complex have been identified; they belonged to the White-footed rabbit rat
, now extinct. It was Australia's largest native rodent with a long two-toned tail. It was believed to have died out in Gippsland in the mid 1800s.
A rare fossil of the extinct white-footed rabbit rat has been found, perfectly preserved, by a team of expert cavers in a cave near Buchan. Inset: 1850s drawing of the rabbit rat by renowned bird painter, John Gould. Picture from East Gippsland News 3rd August 2016
Clearfelling the Future.... Victoria's Endangered Forests
A local film-maker is planning to make a series of short films that expose the destruction of Victoria's forests by clearfell logging and the urgency for their protection.
He hopes to get these short films across as many media outlets as possible. But he's asking for donations via crowd funding
to see it materialise. Even $10 would help if you're able to help.
Old growth forests - climate mitigators extraordinaire
Globally, climate authorities and climate gab-fests are still disregarding the fact that forests and old growth in particular, are an essential part of climate mitigation.
This is despite the mounting and rock solid science on forests and carbon.
Even with an international voluntary agreement to halve de-forestation by 2020, and eliminate it by 2030, old growth forest continues to be lost at an alarming rate.
Here is yet another research paper
on the desperate need to protect all old growth forest everywhere.
Vital stats - logging
Damning new data on logging has come out in a very thorough report by PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Employment in native forest logging represents 0.006% of the state's workforce. Each full-time equivalent job in native forest logging costs a staggering $5,041,000 in infrastructure investment. That is 12 times the average for a job in Victoria and 10 times that of a job in the plantation sector (which provides more than 77 per cent of all forestry jobs in Victoria).
The Central Highlands forest region shows that the value of paper and timber products (that is, the contribution to state GDP) is $29 a hectare a year. Water is worth 72 times that ($2,033), and tourism worth 12 times ($353). The PwC Environmental and Economic Accounting Analysis of logging detailed this and more. Certain Ministers kept their blindfolds on and remain in denial.
But there are yet deeper problems - read the article on the report from the Age here
Plants communicate via the soil
The great grandmothers of the forests are not only magnificent stalwarts and essential homes for wildlife, they are the hubs of the forest tree network that use underground 'internet' via fungi to communicate, share nutrients and assist each other. Destroy these networks and the forests sicken and become vulnerable.
This fascinating Ted Talk
explains the unseen and unheard 'miracle' that allows plants to communicate via the soil.
UK's new enviro minister a worry
The reshuffle of the UK government after the Brexit vote appointed a new and worrying Environment Secretary.
She supported selling off Britain's forests
, has generally opposed measures to halt climate change and wants to cull badgers and reintroduce fox hunting.
Feral species inquiry
In Victoria, a parliamentary inquiry has been set up to look at controlling invasive species on crown land. EEG is concerned there is too much focus on shooters in National Parks. Allowing shooting organisations to kill deer or foxes in the Alps or parks will hardly put a dint in their numbers (but will gain a few votes).
What's needed is serious political will to fund research that will progress alternative methods of humane culling of ALL ferals including cats.
The 'Inquiry into the Control of Invasive Animals on Crown Land' is asking for comments, due by 5th September 2016 Submissions/comments can be as short or as long as you like.
Community input is needed so that it can identify the scale of the problem in Victoria and get people's views on how best to deal with it. Share your views and experiences with the Committee to influence effective solutions.
More details of where to send comments to, topics of discussion etc - www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/news/3100-invasive-animals-inquiry-seeks-solutions