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Environment East Gippsland Forest Update

In this bulletin:

  1. Coupes removed from logging plans.
  2. Brown Mt judgment highlights.
  3. East Gippy legal workshop/summary/implications (and Melbourne too).
  4. Brown Mt celebration and feast – in the forest.
  5. State election – heads up.
  6. Federal Election – what it could mean.
  7. Get onto Get-Up!

Hello EEG e-listers,

1) Great news for the Potoroos – and others!

Rich Forest Block coupes removed
In response to community concerns, 18 coupes proposed for the Rich Forest Block, on the Errinundra Plateau north of Orbost have been removed from Timber Release Plans (TRP). A further eight coupes have been removed from the approved TRP to meet protection requirements for the Long-footed Potoroo according to a media release from the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) circulated last week. (Snowy River Mail 25/8/10)

These coupes were covered in cameras by the survey crew (now known as the Fauna and Flora Research Collective) and 4 Potoroos were found strategically throughout this massive block of planned logging coupes.
“In response to community concerns” makes it sound like VicForests actually care about what the community thinks! It was in fact in response to the Supreme Court finding them in the wrong. It goes on to say ...

“The Plan that has just been approved reduces the total number of coupes available for timber harvesting by 229. Some of these coupes have been removed in response to concerns from the public while others were removed because salvage logging activities have wound down in areas affected by the 2009 bushfires. "“Much of the timber in the burnt areas is no longer of the quality required to supply our timber industry so the remaining coupes have been removed from the Timber Release Plan."

2) Judgment Highlights

Judge Osborne

The below is a few sections from the judgment as it was read out on the 11th August last month. The best parts are highlighted. You can read the full transcript of the Judge’s words here or the entire 230 page judgment here.

... I accept that the approval of the Brown Mountain coupes for logging has occurred as the outcome of a considered forestry planning process, which addresses the characteristics of the coupes in question within a framework of management zones and prescriptions, which seek to minimise impact upon biodiversity values.
Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that during its operations, VicForests remains obliged to respond to the detection of endangered species of fauna and to take a precautionary approach with respect to their potential extinction.
I have further concluded that the detection of Long-footed Potoroos within the Brown Mountain coupes has triggered a requirement to create a habitat retention area
under the relevant Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act action statement.
I have also concluded that the detection of very exceptionally high levels of Greater Gliders and Yellow-bellied Gliders within the coupes has triggered a requirement for the creation of a special protection zone, in accordance with standards contained in the East Gippsland Forest Management Plan and incorporated in the approvals given to VicForests to log the relevant coupes.
I have further concluded that the application of the precautionary principle requires the undertaking of further surveys at appropriate times for two species of endangered frog, the Giant Burrowing Frog and the Large Brown Tree Frog and also for the Spot-tailed Quoll.
Lastly, I have concluded that the precautionary principle requires the completion of a review currently underway, with respect to the provision of Powerful Owl management areas and Sooty Owl management areas in East Gippsland. In the event of the detection of Spot-tailed Quolls at Brown Mountain, the current review of the system of reserves for the Spot-tailed Quoll should also be completed before timber harvesting proceeds.

The principle governing the review of Powerful Owl management areas and Sooty Owl management areas and reserves for the Spot-tailed Quoll is that reserves based on actual detection of the species should be substituted for reserves currently based on hypothetical modelling only.
In order to give effect to these conclusions, VicForests should be restrained by injunction from harvesting until the relevant steps have been completed, to the satisfaction of the Director, Biodiversity Policy and Programs of the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

3) Workshop on the Brown Mt outcome

Two of our brilliant legal team, Vanessa and Sophie, will be coming up to East Gippsland on September the 23rd - 26th and will be holding a workshop on the Brown Mt outcome. This will include a summary, implications for other Victorian forests, what it means for blockaders etc. Everyone is invited to attend on Saturday the 25th at the campground (unless it’s raining).
But never fear – if a 1000 km round trip from Melbourne is too far, the same session will also be held in the big smoke later. 4) Keep Cup Weekend free!

Celebrate Oct 30th – Nov 2nd. We are claiming this date to have a celebration for Brown Mountain with drinks under the giant trees and then an organic feast to follow. It will have to be limited to 100 due to camping and car restrictions so please book early ( There’ll be a minimal charge to cover the cost of the food only. We’ll let you know more details in a week or so. The Waratahs should be in full bloom by then too.

5) State election

The State election is less than 3 months away. Labor will be in hot pursuit of the Green vote or preferences and we’ll have to make sure it doesn’t come easy. If as many voters show their contempt for the old parties as they did during the Federal election , it could be a very interesting outcome in Victoria. We may need some help over the next few months to get the environment message out there. Will keep you posted!

6) Federal election

The Federal election outcome was / is fascinating. 14 million Australians have created a rather novel situation. If the political donations laws can be cleaned up it will have a huge impact on bringing in decent democracy – with the environment being a major beneficiary. The Greens doubled their vote and now hold the balance in the Senate.

7) Get-Up’s list

While on that matter ... and for those who aren’t on Get-Up’s list – please consider this ...

Dear ****,
We're standing at a decisive moment in the history of Australian democracy - and there's a big reform agenda that we have the chance to make reality - if we act before Thursday.

Nearly a year ago, GetUp launched a campaign to reduce the undue influence of political donations on our democracy. Almost 30,000 GetUp members signed the petition
and since then we've been working with the country's best experts and academics to brief politicians from all sides of Parliament on the issue.

Now, we have a unique opportunity. The Independents holding the balance of power in the lower house are passionate about forging a different kind of politics in Australia. They've expressed interest in serious reforms to strengthen our democracy and political processes - including reforming political donations law.

We've secured meetings this Thursday to present GetUp's petition to senior officers from across the political spectrum including the Independents - can you add your name before the deadline?

Click here to sign the petition to end large-scale political donations.

Our democracy should not be for sale - but right now the people we've elected to govern us take money from those who stand to gain from government policy and contracts. When corporations and other organisations donate large sums to political parties it undermines public confidence in the integrity of those parties and candidates and can lead to perceived conflicts of interest, if not conflicts themselves.

This Thursday is the next big moment in our campaign. It's time to support the Independents as they pursue reforms that will restore faith in our political system, like ending large-scale corporate influence. The more voices they have behind them, the more chance that Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will both commit to reforming political donations law.

Sign the petition to end corporate influence on politics.
Here's to a new chapter in Australian democracy.
With hope,
Simon Sheikh
National Director, GetUp

P.S. All of the large countries with parliaments based on the Westminster model - India, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia - now have hung Parliaments. We're seeing interesting opportunities arise in other countries to achieve long-sought after democratic reforms, and here in Australia we have an opportunity to strengthen our own democracy by ending large-scale political donations. Click here to sign the petition.

Jill Redwood
Environment East Gippsland Inc

FORESTS - our breathing space!