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Environment East Gippsland Forest Update March 2013
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Long time no hear!

We’re still here! It’s just that the Forces of Darkness have become even more forceful and dark, and keeping us occupied.
There are a few good news stories amongst the doom though. One being, that EEG’s legal teams (yes plural) are working on two more court challenges due to begin soon.

Hopefully one will really knock their sinister little socks off (Secret Squirrel stuff just yet) and the other will force the government to either improve its care of our environment and wildlife or admit its forest management is worse than Indonesia’s pillage and burn.

These cases should start within the next month and we can then fill you in with details.

Now, PLEEZE – mark this email to read later if you have no time now. Pass on to friends who might be interested in forest news, or ‘LIKE’ our Facebook page and see more regular updates and snippets.

We’ve summarised each story below into a few lines with links, so our time-poor supporters can simply scan this email for a quick update.

These legal cases are not cheap and we are not that flush. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation, we guarantee that EEG is the place where you'll get the most enviro bang for your buck in Australia. We have minimal overheads, no wages, and a proven track record of feisty determination ... and major wins! All dollars go directly to where they do the most good for our forests and wildlife.

Click here or the donation buttons top and bottom of this email to help us.

Thanks and we hope to bring you more regular news updates this year.

Jill and the IT team

In this bulletin:
  • 1. Forests Forever Ecology Camp
  • 2. EEG’s mobile Solar Powered trailer for sale
  • 3. The green seminars that come to you
Good News:
  • 4. Half-baked plan on environmental powers falls over
  • 5. EEG forced VicForests to pull out of National Rainforest Sites.
  • 6. EEG forced DSE to unlock gated logging areas.
  • 7. Biomass plans for Eden chipmill – withdrawn.
  • 8. Toilet sign tickles the public.
  • 9. New E Gipp plant ID booklet
  • 10. EEG FOIs legal costs to Victorians on grazing ban appeal.
  • 11. Auditor General report - DSE and DPI are ‘ineffective’.
  • 12. Fed. government investigates State government for breach of law.
Science and reports:
  • 13. Logging is not sustainable - Professor Lindenmayer
  • 14. New research – forests used to bring rain inland.
  • 15. Global decline of big old trees
  • 16. Logging – a waste of forests.
Fire news:
  • 17. Fire fighters demand action on climate change
  • 18. Coal emissions = 50 times that of bushfires.
  • 19. The Harrietville fire
  • 20. Fanning the flames of hysteria over national parks
The clearfell economy:
  • 21. Recent handouts to logging.
  • 22. Logging towns get new kids footy jerseys but no dividends to us
  • 23. Logging looks to welfare bailouts to ward off undertakers
Rotten news:
  • 24. Mt Jersey Giants - not giant enough
  • 25. Prospectors free to dig in Victoria’s national parks
  • 26. Gina brings the Coal Seam Gas threat to Gippsland.
  • 27. Mr Napthine – and Victoria’s enviro record.
  • 28. Rare flying fox colony in Bairnsdale set to be cut down.
  • 29. Bastion Point mega-boat ramp approved.
  • 30. Drop that recycled paper campaign or you get it in the neck!
  • 31. Forests of Western Victoria to be logged.
  • 32. Government hikes VCAT fees 300%.
  • 33. Qld govt. goes troppo
  • 34. Doubts over paper giant's rainforest pledge
  • 35. GM tree plantations – a menace or a miracle?
  • 36. Nano fibres and lignin technology look to world’s trees and forests.

Get in early … Friday 29th for 4 days. EEG Forests Forever 2013
Click here for more info or to register

Solar trailer for sale

EEG is selling its solar trailer to help pay for the next round of legal work. Please pass this on to any people or groups who could use a portable solar unit.

Green Institute Seminars – the seminar that comes to you.
These are fantastic weekly online seminars with expert speakers on the chosen topics. Cheap at $6 a session.

    Do we really need more food to feed the world?     Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 8:00pm
    Technology. Can we control it or will it control us?    Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 8:00pm

To book a session– go to Simple software allows you to hook in via Webex

Good News
Half-baked plan on environmental powers falls over
Late last year the Business Council of Australia almost forced the Gillard government to hand over most Federal Environment powers to the states. This would have been an unimaginable disaster for Australia. After a combined campaign form Australia’s enviro groups Gillard back stepped in early December. Even the normally apolitical Sir David Attenborough made a public statement against this plan, which was a powerful shot from our side. Ms Gillard told the states that unless they can all agree to operate under the same framework, it won’t happen. The plan could resurface though, at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments in April 2013. Read more here

VicForests avoids Supreme Court - agrees not to log rainforest sites

Last year we began legal proceedings against VicForests for their plan to log inside National Sites of Rainforest Significance – against the law. But desperate to avoid another court case they agreed to comply by not logging nine areas and not taking bulldozers and chainsaws across the boundaries of another 6 sites. This was in November in an out of court settlement. For more info click here

Logging Minister stuffs up - then VicForests block fire access roads - fire starts.
Minister Walsh last year blind-signed a law that made it illegal for the public to enjoy or use about half of eastern Victoria’s public land available for logging! Huge no-go zones were put around logging coupes to exclude 340,000 ha of public land from the public. EEG forced the Minister to rewrite the laws after we pointed out the absurdity of it, but locked gates on public roads still prevented fire access. Read the full article here

Eden woodchip mill’s new forest burner plans fall over. The Eden export woodchip mill plan to convert our forests into fuel to burn for electricity has failed. Likewise its wind farm project and the pellet plant to process forests into tiny pellets to export elsewhere to burn, has been declared a big white elephant. Just before these all failed the Victorian Association of Forest Industries awarded the Eden woodchip mill a prize for its ‘environmental initiatives’. Read more here

Toilet sign tickles the public
Seen at a public toilet in East Gippsland recently. We put this on our EEG Facebook page and last count was 7500 views! It’s obviously struck a chord with a lot of people.

What plant or tree is that?

Find out with this beaut little pocket guide - $5. Just printed by the Goongerah Landcare greenies. Covers the more common foothill forest plants of East Gippsland.
$7 posted. Locked Bag 3 ORBOST 3888 or contact

How much did the grazing ban appeal cost Victorians?
So how much did it cost the Victorian tax-payer to cover this huge legal challenge, in the Federal Court, just so the government can keep in good with the small number of cowmen wanting free agistment in a National Park? EEG has applied for this cost under FOI. For more info click here

DSE/DPI ‘ineffective’ – Auditor General
Good news on bad news - the Auditor General was scathing in his 2012 report into the compliance responsibilities of DSE and the Dept Primary Industries (now responsible for logging and VicForests).

But given these departments shamelessly break State and Federal laws themselves, how can they be expected to monitor and enforce their laws with others? For more click here

Feds investigate state logging agency on breach of commonwealth enviro laws
Healesville based environment group, MyEnvironment has identified a legal clash between the EPBC Act and the RFA Act. They believe our protected state faunal emblem, the Leadbeaters Possum, is having its habitat cleared against the state/federal agreement (RFA). They are using evidence that was raised during their court case to ask Tony Burke’s enviroinment department to investigate. Read more here

Science and Reports
‘Logging is not sustainable’ – says university Professor
Professor David Lindenmayer from the ANU recently wrote “the old growth Mountain Ash forest estate has been reduced to an estimated 1/60th of what it once was” and “by any scientific yardstick, forestry operations in Victoria cannot be regarded as ecologically sustainable.” Read more on his report here

More evidence of forests’ role in our climate
This is fascinating new research.
The idea that forests bring the rain, and cutting them down can affect local weather patterns, is not new. But Russian physicists Makarieva and Gorshkov argue forests also create winds that sweep rain inland, allowing forests to grow far from the coast.

The theory runs that Australia is so dry in large part because we don’t have forests, not the other way around. The last two hundred years has obviously been a big contributor to this, but Aboriginal fire practices appear to have also been significant. For more click here

Global Decline of Big Old Trees Impacts Forest Ecosystems
Big old trees, as we know are now extremely rare, but extremely important for forest ecosystems globally.

They are necessary for a variety of wildlife and processes that have evolved with large old trees. They are now a tiny part of forested lands (if they exist at all) but can account for 50% of the carbon captured within trees. This latest study shows that the world’s biggest giants are now more vulnerable than ever on more fronts than ever. Read more here

Logging - a WASTE of forests
The Australia Institute has released a brilliant new infographic on what ends up as waste and woodchips from a Tassie forest. It'd be similar here. Shame it only counts trees, and not the entire make-up of a forest though. Trees can be 50% of some forests’ biomass - so the sums on what's wasted and burnt would be much worse. For more click here

Fire News:
Fire fighters are now demanding real climate action!
“We want to see less people losing their homes in bushfires, not more”, they say. To read more click here

Coal power emits 50 times the C02 of bushfires
Despite an uninformed declaration from a certain politician, bushfires this year in Oz have emitted an amount of CO2 equivalent to 2% of Australia’s annual emissions from coal-fired power. Read about it here

Harrietville fire

The Harrietville fire that was started by lightning on the border of the park and burnt towards Mt Feathertop, raced through previously burnt areas from the 2003 and 2007 Alpine fires. The area also had extensive prescribed burns carried out.

Back-burns sandwiched any wildlife that had managed to flee the fire edges.

Read more about the relationship between bushfires and emissions.
Read more about the links between extreme weather and human-caused global warming

Fanning the hysteria flames of the Abberfeldy fire
Bushfires this year in Victoria have started almost entirely in either logged forest, previously bushfire affected forest or plantations. They have mostly burnt through 2003-2007 bushfire burnt areas. Yet the media, logging industry and their tame commentators demonise national parks as the cause of mega-fires. The Abberfeldy fire was supposedly one of those. Research is proving this is an absurd claim. For more click here

The clearfell economy:

Recent handouts to logging
These are some of the ways our taxes are dished out to assist logging:
$650,000 to the new owners of the Heyfield mill - from Baillieu.
$8.2 million for the Bombala pine mill - from Gillard.
$9.5 million to Nippon’s paper recycling plant at Maryvale - from Gillard.
$30,000 biomass study for EG mill - from Baillieu.

There is more money to made if forests are left standing than as cheap ‘waste’ products like woodchips and furnace fuel

Logging towns get new footy jerseys, but no profits for public
VicForests tells us it can't afford to pay a dividend to the public who own the forests they destroy, but they can afford to dish out half a million to their selected logging towns to keep sweet with them.
From their website:"This year almost 40 groups and services across eastern Victoria were awarded grants or the opportunity for ongoing support through VicForests’ Community Support Program".
The reason they were set up was to return a profit to the state from logging operations. They never have. Read more here

Logging looks to welfare bailouts to ward off undertakers
Native forest logging contributes 0.15% to 0.20% to Australia’s GDP - a miniscule amount to our economy. So why has it dominated the minds and energies of politicians and policy makers for decades? The end is nigh – with the overseas woodchip markets steering clear of Australia’s offerings. So what are our government’s planning? Read more here

Rotten News:
Mt Jersey Giants - not giant enough
In March 2011, VicForests was crowing about its new giant tree protection policy (read our 2011 article here). VicForests said then that their new policy on giant trees will also "see every effort made to protect trees which are greater than 3m in diameter". That’s 9.4 mts circumference.

Protesters at Mt Jersey’s old growth forests currently being clearfelled have measured the circumference of many tree stumps that range from 7.15m, to 10.9m circumference.

The area of old growth forest to be cleared in Mount Jersey totals 116 hectares – which is equivalent to 58 football fields.

Previously, these forest areas were designated as Special Protection Zones, but became part of the 2,507 hectares of public forests rezoned over to logging in August 2012.

Prospectors free to dig up National Parks
The Baillieu Government directed the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) to determine which areas of eastern Victoria’s National Parks prospectors and fossickers will be allowed into. VEAC isn’t to look at IF prospecting should be allowed but where. Read more here

Gas fracking and Gina Rinehart comes to Gippsland!

One of Gina Rinehart's companies has invested more than $4 million in the gas exploration firm Lakes Oil. It's a subsidiary of Rinehart's WA iron ore giant Hancock Prospecting. Part of this latest move is the appointment of climate change sceptic, Professor Ian Plimer, as a director of Lakes Oil. Read more here

Will a new Napthine broom sweep clean?

So what difference can we expect to see from the spanking new Premier Napthine?

So far we don’t quite know. We do know he has done away with the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Forests which the logging industry man Gary Blackwood MP held. We also know that in Napthine’s electorate, people want wind farms and the employment that would bring. Click here for the list of some of the enviro threats that his government has given Victoria.

Flying Foxes hounded from their habitat

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is listed as vulnerable. We are honoured to host a colony along the Mitchell River at Bairnsdale, but due to bat phobia, their trees are due to be knocked down by the shire to move them on. These are magnificent nocturnal creatures and are being hounded on from their camps where people feel threatened by them. This is likely to stress the colony as they might not find another equally cool site for summer roosting. Alternatives exist for the council. Not all the trees are dangerous and ready to fall over as the council claims.

Bastion Point boat ramp gets the govt nod
The five year long battle to stop a huge monstrosity planned for Mallacoota’s favourite beach, Bastion Point, was given the go-ahead by the Ballieu government in January. After three weeks of panel hearings in 2007, after 87% of submissions opposed the plan, after the then Planning Minister Justin Madden opposed the project, the Coalition government’s environment minister, Ryan Smith gave it his blessing. But the locals say they haven’t given up on the fight.

DROP that recycled paper campaign or you get it in the neck!

The logging mafia was at work again earlier this year when
the Baillieu government ordered Zoos Victoria
(Melbourne, Healesville and Werribee) to cease its recycled
paper campaign or lose funding.
Read the original article here

Forests of Western Victoria to be logged.
In December, the state government announced it would reopen the Mount Cole and Pyrenees Ranges state forests to commercial logging under a 'trial' which could then be extended to full-scale logging.
For more click here

VCAT fees hike
The Government is proposing to increase VCAT fees (a lesser court where you can challenge a government decision). This hefty 300% increase will see a basic planning application fee cost over $1000 putting it out of reach of most ordinary people. Plus there’ll be new hearing and mediation fees. All in the name of 'cost recovery', i.e. user pays. (A pity they didn’t apply that to the logging industry).

The Environment Defenders Office Briefing Paper on the issue is at

Newman Govt - opens up Qld to logging!
Queensland was the only state that managed to do away with their clearfelling of native forests as a result of the RFA process in the early 90s. It also has no woodchip industry, but Campbell Newman now wants both. Read more here

Doubts over paper giant's rainforest pledge
You might have read that the world's biggest and most notorious pulp and paper company, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), state it will no longer log virgin rainforest.. Conservationists are rightly suspicious though. Read why here

The GM tree plantations bred to satisfy the world's energy needs
Israeli biotech firm says its modified eucalyptus trees can displace the fossil fuel industry. For more click here For more info on this and other GE tree issues, go to

Nano fibres & lignin from tree cellulose
Nippon, owners of the Eden woodchip mill and the Maryvale pulp and paper factory that makes Reflex paper, recently announced it will be building a cellulose nano-fibers production facility using wood pulp as the raw material. These fibres are supposed to have special qualities like high elasticity, barrier performance to gas, including oxygen, can be used as reinforcements and thickeners. Nippon says that being from plant fibres, they are eco-friendly. Read about the announcement at

There is also excitement in the industry for using lignin in wood cellulose for the chemical industry. They have properties for use in phenolic resins, surfactants, epoxy resins, adhesives, polyester and so on. Oh – and of course they’re also eco-friendly. They say there are 300 Billion tonnes out there to be had. But they say biofuel development is competing for trees, attention and government support. Read more here

           Jill and the team.

            Environment East Gippsland Inc.      FORESTS - our breathing space!

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