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Environment East Gippsland is a kick-arse volunteer group determined to protect our forests and wildlife.
- Planet Ark turns Dark
- FSC timber certification - murky
- Leadbeaters - back to court
- CSIRO declines off to join EEG
- VicForests plays hide and seek with FOI docs
- Spin doctors outnumber journos
- EG logger fined for malicious damage in NSW
- Eden chipmill in decline
- Harvey Norman’s hardwood floors - hard on wildlife
- Cats compete with Eastern quolls
- WA Labor and forest protection
- Fed Libs plan to lock-up protesters
- Poison baits avoided by dogs
- $800 from kids talents
- Plastic choking the oceans
- Warming waters makes them toxic
1) PLANET (d)ARK SELLS its soul.
Planet Ark or Dark as some say - famous for loo paper, soap powder and advocating we recycle our Xmas cards - has accepted a large parcel of cash from the logging industry, in exchange for its ‘green’ endorsement of forest destruction.
No genuine green group would go near the AFS with a bottle of phenyle. But we hear that Planet Dark was in dire financial straits so sold their light green soul for some dark green paper. The logging industry thus bagged a cheap ‘enviro’ group to give AFS certified native forest timber some green cred.
They explain to us, in phrases disturbingly similar to those used by logging groups’ PR spin doctors, that bulldozers and fire management of our forests for the odd chair or floor board (and Xmas card?) will actually store more carbon than is lost.
Planet Dark is endorsing the industry’s very own certification scheme. Called the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS), this scheme is so pro-industry it even endorsed Tasmania’s blitzkrieg logging as eco-friendly. Planet Dark has had to say that AFS is not perfect but they hope to see it improve. As one wag said - they might as well try to turn Gina Rinehart around.
The Weekly Times newspaper exposed this little deal in early July. Planet Ark came out squealing the next week in a badly written opinion piece. In the same issue the Weekly Times published another story. here This time it exposed how bad the AFS system was, which recently certified Tasmanian and Victorian logging management - despite proven cases of unlawful logging by VicForests.
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Thanks to all of those who already voted and made comments. It does make a difference.
2) What eco-label can you trust?
Besides the farcical AFS system invented by the logging industry, the other option is the FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council. It’s a global system but still has its problems. It’s been fairly weakened by logging influences that sit within it and the Australian FSC is no different. FSC Australia has, via extremely dodgy auditors, handed companies like Gunns, Australian Paper (Nippon), Midways and agencies like Forestry Tasmania and VicForests a sort of FSC ‘light’, called FSC Controlled Wood.
The national AGM was held in Melbourne in June. Environment East Gippsland attended as a member of FSC Australia, but I wasn’t sure if I’d stumbled into a loggers and contractors meeting. Despite the heavy presence of the logging lobby some good people were elected who can hopefully start to improve the system.
The most contentious issue is the way ‘controlled wood’, is awarded. If this can‘t be fixed - and fast - there is a real possibility that the environment members will boycott the process. That should mean it all comes to a halt. We’ll keep you informed.
3) Leadbeaters - rises again in the court.
The Central Highland’s group, My Environment is set to appeal the Supreme Court decision on the protection of Leadbeaters Possum habitat.
They need to deposit $30,000 as security for court costs by 4:00pm Friday for the right to take its case against VicForests to appeal.
They are asking for 250 donations of $20 to hold VicForests accountable.
You can go to the MyEnvironment website by clicking here to make a donation anytime.
4) CSIRO declines our membership.
EEG recently gave CSIRO’s pot a good stir after discovering they pay the logging industry group AFPA, $10,000 a year membership (along with the Mineral’s Council and who knows what others). Both CSIRO and the Ombudsman did their best to defend this blatant funding of lobby groups. So we blatantly sent a request to CSIRO to become a member of EEG for $10,000 a year. We offered our great wealth of information and experience to share with them. The response came back about four weeks later:
“ … in accordance with CSIRO policy we have also done some due diligence on EEG to get a full picture of its activities … As a result of this review CSIRO has decided that it will not be taking up your invitation to become a corporate member of Environment East Gippsland”.
Their ‘due diligence’ investigations on us must have shown we were not the type of lobby group they wanted to fund. We are sadly disappointed.
5) VicForests plays hide and seek with FOI docs.
With the woodchip market in a bit of a tail spin, VicForests is desperate to find buyers for the mountain of ‘waste’ it creates. They are offering a mountainous 830,000m3 pa.
But we discovered there is no basis or data for this grand sum. We asked for the documents that were used to come to this massive figure, under Freedom of Information. We were refused.
So we have asked VicForests for a review of the decision and then intend to take this to VCAT to legally demand they cough up the evidence. This is after all public property and public money that VicForests wants to use to indemnify their pie-in-the-sky offering to any biomass burning business.
6) Lies and spin could soon outweigh our daily news.
At the end of February 2012 there were approximately 23,000 journalists and writers compared with about 21,500 Public Relations people, according to employment data produced by Economic and Market Development Advisors. A decade ago there were about 16,000 journalists and writers and 13,000 PR people.
With the demise of newspapers, the number of public relations professionals in Australia is due to match or outstrip the number of working journalists by the end of this year.
The Australian 7/5/12
7) East Gippsland logger charged with malicious damage.
Mathew Van Damme works for East Gippsland logging company Boss Logging Pty Ltd and recently pleaded guilty to malicious damage in the Milton Local Court on 12th July.
Last January this contractor violently smashed up a protestor’s car with a chain. Mr Van Damme was ordered to pay $1000 plus court costs.
8) Eden Chipmill on the downhill run.
News from across the border is that the export woodchip mill has cancelled seven woodchip ships since Xmas.
To that, add their ‘letting go’ a lot of staff, including front man Vince Phillips, and have sent home the resident Nippon Paper Director and other staff.
And they have recorded their first loss, and it look like losing more yet.
9) Harvey Norman’s Naturally Australian floorboards hard on wildlife
If you buy furniture or flooring from Harvey Norman stores, you could well be aiding the destruction of native forests, wildlife and the NSW koala populations.
Markets for Change followed the supply line of timber and found the flooring they sell comes from prime forest habitat of coastal NSW koala populations that are on the brink.
Don’t be conned by their claims of native eucalypt timbers being ‘sustainably mananged’ and ‘renewable’.
EEG emailed Harvey Norman and suggested they seriously look at taking the lead in eco-friendly furniture and flooring.
Harvey Norman himself, called Jill within hours, upset that we would be telling our 800 supporters that he sells forest destruction. He refused to budge on not using timbers that came from destroyed wildlife habitat, saying that if he didn’t use it, someone else would. Doesn’t that sound like the argument we hear from drug traffickers?
10) Eastern Quoll - suddenly on the brink.
The Eastern Quoll is a smaller, daintier version of the Spot-tailed Quoll. They used to occur on the mainland but became extinct and now only survive in Tasmania. But their numbers are plummeting.
Research being done shows this alarming decline could be due to feral cats and possibly foxes. How so? The Tasmanian Devils have been almost wiped out by the contagious facial tumour. The Devils were keeping cat numbers in check and dining on their kittens. It looks like: No Devils = lots more feral cats = Eastern Quolls die out.
Watch this ABC news video http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-26/a-mammal-at-risk/4034714
11) WA forests used as election tool for Labor.
WA Labor has pulled out the forest tool it used in 2001 when its promise to protect old growth forests. This won it the election.
It’s a shame forests are only offered some protection when it suits their political agenda. But it’s good to see forests recognised as a vote winner, rather than interest rates, tough on crime and refugees, or cheaper petrol. May other states (and the Feds) follow suit.
12) Liberals plan crackdown on protesters.
Under a federal Coalition government environmental protesters who target businesses and workplaces would be likely to be jailed. The federal Liberal Party is going to the next election with this tough new stand.
The protests in Tasmania this year have spurred their new war on environmental activists.
13) Camera doesn’t lie: dog bait is a failure.
For two years, local farmer and previous member of the North East wild dog advisory committee Noel Cheshire, documented the different ways feral animals reacted to different poison baits.
Pigs and foxes were not fussy. Dogs were extremely cautious and avoided baits and even a dead kangaroo that was left near a track.
The Burrowye farmer was skeptical about the success of baiting for wild dogs and wanted first-hand confirmation about their eating habits so set up cameras in the bush.
Footage showed dogs sniffing but avoiding all meat and manufactured baits. They believed dogs stayed away because of human scent or sensing other differences.
14) $800 from kids talents.
A dedicated member of EEG organized a kids’ talent night at Kalista in the Dandenongs, complete with meal and BYO cushions. It was a sell out and kids performed song, dance, jokes and plays.
It was a warm way to spend a winter’s eve. Thanks so much Christine! Much appreciated!
For those in the seat of Melbourne who have been swamped with Labor’s desperate attempts to discredit The Greens in the last week or so, our contribution to the political debate is this: Thanks Tandberg.
15) Plastic menace choking sealife.
The amount of plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean is at alarming levels, drastically impacting seabird populations and sea life in general.
Dr Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania (Institute for Marine and Antarctic studies at the University of Tasmania) has been studying short-tailed and flesh-footed shearwaters. She has found that 100% of the birds now suffer from ingested plastics.
Fifteen years ago, 65 per cent of Australian marine birds were affected by plastics, and Lavers believes it could be closer to 85 per cent now.
The birds suffer perforations and blockages of the digestive system, or ingested toxins leaching from the plastics. Dr Lavers removed 442 pieces of plastic from an albatross chick only a few months old.
Recent research on the Northern Fulmar has shown that many have dozens of pieces of plastic in their stomachs, things like candy wrappers, twine and Styrofoam, causing lacerations of the stomach lining, stunted growth and mortality.
Post mortems on 67 birds showed each contained plastic equivalent to about five per cent of their body mass. One bird had 454 pieces of plastic in her stomach. More than 92 % of dead birds on beaches in British Columbia, Canada, and the US states of Washington and Oregon, had plastic waste in their stomachs.
The problem of plastic pollution is also impacting on other marine animals. All seven species of Australian sea turtles are known to ingest and become entangled in plastics.
Last year, a sperm whale washed up with 123 different kinds of fishing net in its stomach. It’s terrifying news that Governments could have acted on years ago.
Say no to plastic bags and single use items. Don’t add to the millions of tonnes of plastics polluting the planet.
Read the original article www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/07/09/3540635.htm
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16) Global warming and toxic water.
We sometimes call it algae but a fancy name is Cyanobacteria. They love warmer water, they grow faster and they produce more toxins. Each year the Gippsland Lakes put on a show of this phenomenon. And authorities just put signs up and wait it for it to go away.
Cyanobacteria are very primitive beings with a lineage of over 3,500 million years. These aquatic microorganisms helped to oxygenate the earth's atmosphere back then. They are still around and like us, their populations are exploding.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology July 3 2012
Jill and the team.
Environment East Gippsland Inc.
FORESTS - our breathing space!