June - what a month!
Read a summary below and click on the links if you’d like even more juicy details.
- 90 logging coupes in legal case still on hold.
- FFGA, landclearing laws and the Biodiversity Strategy to be reviewed.
- Logging in East Gippsland costing us $5.5 million a year.
- Throwing native forests into electricity furnaces given the nod (and money).
- Those who documented illegal rainforest logging prosecuted (the same people were shortlisted for a UN enviro award).
- Green certification for logging abandoned by VicForests.
- Burning the bush fails the effectiveness test.
We speak for the Owls – in Court
What’s this all about? During the Feb/March 2014 fires many protected zones for our three threatened owl species were severely burnt. We also found out that the minimum required areas of habitat for our threatened owls are not protected in East Gippsland, regardless of the fires. Since the fires, VicForests has clearfelled over 200 ha of mature forest which we believe could be crucial as replacement areas. Our latest court case is an attempt to force the government to review East Gippsland’s owl zones, to replace those destroyed by their fires and protect the minimum areas of good quality habitat required by law for our magnificent Owls. We also claim VicForests should not be logging in owl areas until the minimum required habitat is protected.
As part of the ongoing case VicForests has agreed to put a moratorium on 90 stands of forest that have known owl records either within or nearby.
The court-ordered mediation between EEG and the department and VicForests in mid-May did not resolve the case.
A couple of weeks ago we lost our Senior Counsel, Richard Niall QC, who was appointed to the position of Victorian Solicitor General; good for Victoria but a loss for us.
Our new Senior Counsel has been briefed and the next hearing date is 27 July 2015, when the Court will decide the procedure and timetable for the next phase of the case.
If you’d like to help us along with this 4th legal challenge (so far we’ve won or settled 3/3) click here to make a tax-deductible donation. Read more details of this case here
Forests at a tipping point – into the furnaces
A new war has been declared on our native forests.
Despite weeks of hard lobbying, thousands of emails and phone calls from the public and an alert to cross benchers from 40 scientists the Senate, with the help of Labor has passed the RET legislation. This not only allows the unfettered destruction of native forest trees in electricity furnaces, but defines it as ‘renewable energy’ and thereby hands the logging and power industries renewable energy credits (financial support). At least the woodchip industry was fussy about species type, but anything that burns will now be fair game.
Though we predict the first electricity retailer to go near ‘dead koala power’ will find themselves the target of a boycott campaign. We can also keep reminding the state Labor government that their federal counterparts are opposed to burning native forest wood for power generation. Read more
Review of enviro laws
Good news for our environment laws!
Lisa Neville MP and Daniel Andrews are setting up reviews of the EPA Act, the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFGA), landclearing regulations and the Biodiversity Strategy. All have been ineffective for decades.
Fingers crossed they are serious about positive reform.
Read more here
East Gippy forests good only as furnace fodder VicForests
A leaked three-year business plan of VicForests reveals multi-million dollar (taxpayer-funded) losses and East Gippsland is mentioned as the most uneconomic region having made losses of $5.5 million p.a. for years. This continues as a "Community Service Obligation." Divide $5.5million by 100 workers ...$55,000 per worker! But that’s not the worst of it. The leaked 'commercial in confidence' documents also shows VicForests is keen to use native forests to generate electricity under the Renewable Energy Target, or RET to keep the handful of workers afloat and the VicForests empire running. Read more here
Planned Burns Review and Recommendations
Admits failure – plans for more effective risk reduction
The Royal Commission-recommended burns to over 5% of our natural landscape annually have finally been shown to be a waste of time, money and horrifically damaging to our biodiversity.
Using 12 criteria to measure how effective the blunt hectare-based target is compared to the proposed risk-reduction target, the hectare burns scored 13/48 (a serious flunk!) while a risk-based target scored 40/48. Read more
GECO shortlisted for UN award
The Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) was shortlisted for a United Nations environment award in late May. This was for their research work identifying rare wildlife and plant communities under threat in our East Gippsland forests.
In contrast, the Minister responsible for VicForests Jaala Pulford, was at the same time taking action to prosecute GECO for the very same work the UN recognised. The monitoring and reporting on threats to wildlife and rainforests from logging operations was not appreciated by our logging minister.
We agree with the United Nations on this one. Congratulations to GECO and their volunteers! Your work is on par with "world's best (conservation) practice"!
VicForests abandons green label
VicForests has abandoned its attempt to gain a green tick for its logging practices under the international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label.
It had a snowball's hope in hell before, but now the Federal Govt has declared the Leadbeaters Possum critically endangered, it's more like a snowflakes hope in hell. VicForests said:
"Following the listing of the Leadbeaters Possum as critically endangered, (we) made the decision to delay undergoing an audit ... it would be premature to go ahead ... (need) more time to understand the important role VicForests ... play in ... recovery of the Possum ... remain committed to seeking FSC certification ..."
Realistically, unless the FSC system was further compromised, VicForests had little chance of gaining certification. Now they have Buckleys.
Abbott to strip Enviro groups of tax-deductible donation status
Across Australia 600 enviro groups like EEG are to be 'investigated' by the Abbott government. They’d prefer us to all plant trees, not publicly challenge or question government policy.
EEG is on the Register of Environment Organisations that can give tax-deductibility for donations, so we are on their hit list. We must not take action to protect, carry out research or educate people about the environment. The Tax Act and a High Court decision approve of these activities - but Abbott doesn't.
As part of these investigations we learn that the mining industry enjoys a bigger tax break on its lobbying activities than the environmental organisations.
Please sign this petition. https://www.change.org/p/protect-tax-deductible-donations-for-environment-groups-sign-the-petition
Other items you may have missed
This could be the most valuable half hour you ever spend watching a nature-science vid. Fascinating facts about fungi and a captivating speaker.
Paul Stamets - How Mushrooms Can Save Bees & Our Food Supply | Bioneers
A fungi-forest! Found today - quietly devouring old wood.
'Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates"
Here's just one example of how fungi can kill off Monsanto and its 'chemical solutions'.
Invertebrates outweigh us, but overlooked in biological research.
Fungi and insects - a massive group with an immense role to play in our ecosystems and even human health.
Yet so little is known about them.
In Victoria there are 670 species of vertebrates, up to 30,000 of fungi and 80,000 species of insects! Yet the research papers show most funding goes to vertebrates.
Cost-benefit analysis shows EEG is best value for money
Just joking, but we do punch above our weight. If you have any spare dosh you don’t want the tax-man to grab – please send our way. If not before 30th, then maybe next you can. We put every cent directly towards saving our forests. No power bills, wages or overheads.