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Upper Delegate River - conservationists charged with conservation

On Thursday 26th March 2009, four people were charged in their efforts to save East Gippsland old growth forests at Upper Delegate River from being chopped down.

Conservationists trying to conserve protected old growth forests have been charged with illegal conservation. Is Victorian Premier Brumby's strongman stance seeking to emulate Mugabean democracy?

Is Brumby's hypocritical law for conservationists that of prima facie guilt of conservation? Surely the need to conserve rare and remnant old growth forests makes conservation self-evident?

Premier Brumby's DSE and VicForests under their own laws maintain these catchment forests under environmental protection legislation. Yet in breach of their own laws, Brumby's environmental watchdogs have become lapdogs, watching loggers irreparably destroy these centuries-old Eucalypts and lay witness to Victoria's disappearing natural heritage. It's no different to Indonesia condoning destruction of Sumatran and Kalimantan rainforests.

When was the last time Brumby bushwalked through old growth Gippsland? Last year, or never?

A dedicated group of 20 forest conservationists prevented clearfelling in the upper Delegate River catchment up until now. “This particular old growth forest was recently surveyed by trained biologists and the result showed very high density of tree dwelling mammals”, said spokesperson for the group Carmel Roberts.

“The DSE is neglecting their responsibilities to protect endangered wildlife habitat, even though it clearly states in their Forest Management Plan that where high numbers of threatened species are found, habitat must be protected.

“The DSE are saying they are unable to protect these species' habitat despite the logging being in clear breach of their legal obligations. The government puts more value on a months work by a few people than protecting endangered wildlife from extinction.

“In 2006, Premier Brumby made an election promise to protect the “last significant stands of old growth”. These forests are the very the last refuges for our rare species.”

“Since the devastation caused by the bushfires, East Gippsland’s forests are now even more critical to the survival of Victoria’s native species than before. Rare native wildlife could have been made locally extinct in other areas due to the fire damage.”

“Old growth forest habitats such as hollow-bearing trees, are critically important for the survival of these threatened species in Victoria. The logging industry can survive in plantations and regrowth, endangered wildlife can’t.”

Comments

The Brumby government is truly the lapdog to the loggers. The woodchip mafia has him well trained. The rule book says the threatened species have to be saved. He destroys them and their habitat. The promise back in 2006 was to save the old growth - but all he's done is cover for the increased targetting of prime areas.

Yep - no different to Indonesia or the Amazon. Only Brumby employs better media spin experts. Pity the public don't wear it.

Blackdog's comments hit the mark.

I go futher: Laptop governments supporting destructionist loggers while publicly advocating environmental protection in another department is gross hypocracy, a conflict of interest and so internationally corrupt.

I worry also that as more clever HSC graduates take on degrees in 'Communications', which so frequently entices them into well paid jobs in government and corporate spin machines, that pure ethics is neglected at both senior school and at most university courses.

By denying our children skills and wisdom in worldly ethics, our children are being denied their rights to cope with ethical decisions. A degree without a base in ethics is a degree in propaganda, and don't our lapdog governments lap them up?

Take the following example and ask why in our education system and supposed independent journalism, that Australians are more aware of the extremely rich celebrities than the natural and indigenous exploitation and neglect condoned by governmenst in Australia's World region?

SOURCE: www.drmartinwilliams.com/conservation-and-environment/indonesian-forest-destruction-corruption-plays-a-role.html

"Since 1982, forest fires on a large scale in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Java have come with the onset of each dry season. A fire in Kalimantan in 1983, reportedly the largest in human history, destroyed 3.7 million hectares of rainforest, an area the size of the Netherlands.

In 1987, 2 million hectares, 1.4 million of primary rainforest, were destroyed in Kalimantan, Sumatra, East Timor, Sulawesi and mountain regions of Java.

In 1991 smoke and ash from fires blanketed Singapore, Malaysia and the Straits of Malacca, forcing Indonesia to call for international help.

Forest fires of this magnitude coincide with a rapid increase in logging and plantation activities which began in the early 1980s. In 1966, 82% of Indonesia's land mass was covered by primary forest. By 1982 this had shrunk to 68%, and recent satellite photographs indicate that forest cover - including timber plantations - is now down to about 55%.

In late 1996, the Indonesian minister of forests said that 20 million hectares of forest were in a critical state and warned that this was increasing rapidly. The World Bank estimates 800,000 hectares of forest are lost each year.

Around 64 million hectares - one-third of Indonesia's land mass - is devoted to commercial logging. In 1996 Indonesia became the world's largest plywood exporter.
...
On September 9, Suharto reissued a 1995 ban on burning forest and called on the military to help enforce it. Companies were given until October 3 to prove they were not the culprits.

Laws allow up to 10 years' imprisonment and a 100 million rupiah fine for polluters. Not one company, however, has ever been convicted. Even the environment minister, Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, admitted to Reuters on September 22 that environmental laws are not policed properly.

Soon after Suharto's announcement, the number of fires increased, as companies rushed to clear as much land as possible before the deadline. Even if the deadline was strictly adhered to, it would only let companies finish clearing land at a time the normal rainy season would have forced them to do so.

...

But it is not just the greed of Suharto and the logging and plantation firms which has created this disaster.

Government investment and development policies which have promoted destructive land clearing practices are spurred on by market forces and capitalism's endless drive for profit. Many of the projects were championed by and funded by institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, which pressure countries such as Indonesia to increase exports."

In 2009, we must learn from Easter Island's ancient community and its unsustainable culture of nature exploitation which ended up condemning its civilization to extinction. Else, despite our iPods, in 2009 we risk the same fate.

About time this shameful situation got coverage. I would like to see a story for EVERY charge against conservationists on candobetter.

It is quite true, as you say, that the Victorian Government frequently breaks the law in its forest activities. In fact it has practically torn up its own rule book.

Keep fighting.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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