Hello again all,
More news and developments on the forest front – in summary below.
PLUS: Our Forests Forever Easter Ecology Camp is on from 3-6th April. Spaces are filling fast. If you were planning to come along – please book asap so you don’t miss out.
Details below the news snippets.
In this bulletin:
- Owls Legal Case
- Meeting the minister
- Kuark Forest petition
- Autumn burns
- Lyrebirds - forests gardeners
- Rare East Gippy koala found
- VicForests begs Nippon
- World woodchipping
- Gas rise to hurt mill
- $300M given to victims of Black Saturday Murrundindi fire
- Forest carbon worth more in Emissions reduction scheme
- Dog baiting and mammal decline in eucalyptus forests
- Forests Forever Easter Camp
EEG’s legal case to challenge the government’s refusal to review the legislated owl protection zones after the 2014 bushfires is continuing. There are now 90 proposed logging areas where owls have been identified. Mediation should take place in late May. If this fails to reach a suitable agreement then the matter will go to the Supreme Court.
Read more on the EEG website here
Meeting the minister
EEG made the long journey to Melbourne to meet with the Environment Minister Lisa Neville this week. Along with other env groups, we raised a number of issues including the flaws in the FFGA, the rapid decline of the logging industry, the need to review owl protection (as per our current legal case) and of course the urgent need to halt burns in controversial areas.
There were some glimmers of hope in certain areas such as a possible reversal of some of the worst of the Coalitions decisions, reviews and accepting that the concept of climate change should be considered. But on other issues Lisa Neville was unwilling to concede to much at all. Unfortunately she seems to be receiving poor advice and briefings from certain department bureaucrats. But it was good to have had the opportunity to raise these issues which we will pursue further.
This ancient forest is home to rare rainforest types, endangered species and giant trees. The Victorian government is planning to log this area in 2015.
Sign the petition calling on the Victorian government to protect Kuark forest and secure a future for the rare animals, plants, rare rainforest types and giant trees that exist here.
VicForests is overlooked as an air polluter. On the long weekend (6th-9th March) it fouled up over 5,000 square kilometres of Victoria with thick smoke as it cremated the remains of Leadbeaters Possum habitat it had earlier clearfelled.
These logging burns are so hot, they create an A bomb type mushroom cloud that then spreads out over the landscape to choke thousands of people. That weekend saw multiple burns creating massive smoke pollution all the way to Melbourne. To protect VicForests from public scrutiny, the government misnames these burns 'control burns' and people believe they are to keep them safe from bushfires. If clearfell logging stopped, it would save forests, save wildlife and our autumns could be enjoyed – as they used to be.
Not a bushfire
- but a 'cool burn' by our government! Farewell frogs, reptiles, small ground birds, potoroos, bandicoots ...
Lyrebirds - forests gardeners
Lyrebirds are but one aspect of our forests’ natural army of ‘fuel reducers’. Read The Age article Not just a pretty tail: The lyrebird is a superb firefighter
Bandicoots, Potoroos, and other small diggers, hoppers and scratchers are all extremely important in turning over the forest’s compost daily. Add to this work force the insects and their larvae, termites and fungi that are constantly devouring leaves, twigs and even logs.
Sadly these effective and efficient natural fuel reducers are killed off, displaced or lose their cover and are eaten by foxes and cats every time the government land managers perform their burns; many are over hundreds and sometimes thousands of hectares of forest per burn.
To those with an ecological understanding these burns are destructive and counterproductive. To the government it’s a way to give the public a false sense of security while performing massive eco-cide in our forests.
'Inappropriate' back-burns could drive species extinct
Rare East Gippy koala found
A koala was found in early February just south of Goongerah by a roads crew. This is VERY unusual. Hopefully DELWP is taking the sighting seriously. EG is almost devoid of original koalas now except for the extremely rare occasion one is spotted every 10-20 years. Shooting and disease are believed to have almost wiped them out earlier last century.
VicForests begs Nippon to take small loads of thinnings logs
The big customer for East Gippsland’s woodchips, Nippon, didn’t renew its export woodchip contracts with Victoria after December 2014. Somehow, VicForests has managed to beg the Eden export chipmill to take a wee bit more of the region’s regrowth thinnings. The low Aussie $ would have helped VicForests to negotiate a small contract with Nippon. We suspect it's such a tiny volume that it will not make the loss-making logging operations any less uneconomic.
VicForests Media Release (PDF)
World woodchipping – sheeshuz!
There are 145 woodchip ships working across the oceans and about 75% are Japanese owned. The global woodchip trade is increasing. New ships are being built bigger and most sail to China or Japan. Plantations across the world would be feeding a lot of these but still plenty of native forests will make up the 36 million tonnes that'll fill the ships this year. Read more here
Gas rise to hurt mill
The big woodchip, pulp and paper mill at Maryvale could have to find an extra $30-45 million annually if gas prices increase. The manager said this could have 'serious consequences' and could 'decimate' operations without intervention (ie - tax payer subsidies).
As the state's biggest industrial user of natural gas, cost increases by January 2017 could more than double its current energy bill. Currently the Maryvale Australian Paper mill (Nippon owned) is unprofitable. This could be the final nail in their coffin.
Read the original article from The Latrobe Valley Express
$300M given to victims of Black Saturday Murrundindi fire
Although $300 million was awarded - neither SPAusnet or the govt are admitting liability for the Murrundindi bushfires, 40 dead people and 500 burnt houses. But between them they are paying $300 million to settle the class action.
We do wish we could represent the thousands of dead animals burnt and subjected to untold suffering in a similar sized fire to the 2009 fires, last year across East Gippsland. We believe very poor decisions made in that first week caused the catastrophic 170,000 ha bushfire Read The Age article
Forest carbon worth more in Emissions reduction scheme
Thirty million dollars a year could be the reward to Victorian's if logging was stopped in the Central Highlands and tied in with Abbott's emissions reduction fund.
A confidential brief prepared for the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, found ending logging in these forests would save about 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
Any CO2 emissions saved from ceasing logging could be turned into revenue under the Abbott government's $2.55 billion emissions reduction fund.
From an excellent article in The Age
Dog baiting and mammal decline in eucalyptus forests
Research shows that where dingoes are trapped and poisoned, the ecosystem changes for the worst. Read more here
Also a great little one minute explanatory video of the importance of dingoes in forest ecosystems.
Visit the EEG website here for more details and to book online.
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If you missed any of our past forest news updates you can always catch up and read them on the new EEG website online here.
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Jill and the team.
Environment East Gippsland Inc.
FORESTS - our breathing space!