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Urgent - Last days to save rare wildlife - stop Baylieu Gov

Please, please follow the recommendations of Jill Redwood and Environment East Gippsland. All of the incredible battles won, rare animals and precious forests will be trashed unless we prevent this new legislation.
Please act ASAP.


This is an interim email while we prepare an East Gippsland forest update.

Most would recall that the Baillieu government, in response to our 2010 court win for Brown Mountain, is set to alter the laws governing protection of rare wildlife. It would allow logging to go ahead regardless of what is found there. We suspect they have their sights set on clearfelling Brown Mountain when this is passed – as pay-back.

For those who can, we are asking people to send comments (submissions) into the DSE opposing this plan in the strongest terms possible. Deadline is close of business on Wednesday 1st Feb. But please don’t put this aside. The sooner the better.

The story in brief:

Our Sept 2010 Brown Mountain Supreme Court win for endangered wildlife has upset the new Baillieu Coalition government - so they are going to change the laws that says they must be protected.

To start with, they are set to change a few words in the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2007 (see below).This Code is a ‘loggers environmental rule book’ of sorts and is part of the legal regime that is meant to ‘protect’ our forests while they are being clearfelled yeah ... I know).

The proposed change will take out ‘must do’ protection for threatened species and their habitat. It will allow the DSE Secretary to approve any and all forests planned for logging regardless of whether endangered wildlife live there. This lacks any transparency or accountability. It basically overrides the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act’s individual Action Statements for species protection.

They are knowingly and deliberately rendering useless, the only part out of the FFG Act that logging had to adhere to (especially since our court win). Quolls, Potoroos, the large owls and gliders would all have their home ranges or large parts of it wiped off the map if the logging industry says it must log those forests. And of course it will.

As part of the protocol for changing these rules, the government has to ask us, the public, what we think.

This is their main planned change:

“Forest management planning and all forestry operations must comply with measures specified in relevant Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act Action Statements (unless determined by the Secretary that the requirements of an Action Statement do not apply) and any Flora and Fauna Guarantee Orders."

If you can let them know what you think about all this, below are some dot points that might give you some ideas to pad out and reword in any order or way you want – and as few or as many points as you want to use.

Send them to: headed "Submission to Code change" (or similar). You could also CC it to Baillieu himself so his staff will know what people think as well.

Please help deluge the government. Don’t forget. Bung it in your desk or computer’s diary or better still do it now. Let’s see if we can hit them with at least a hundred letters/emails. Five hundred would be even better!

Dot points

1. This further weakens Victoria’s already weak legal framework for biodiversity protection.

2. Can’t claim wildlife is well protected elsewhere without first doing multiple and thorough surveys in every reserved forest in the state and in every season.

3. The FFGA listed species has already had a scientific committee assess the status and needs of each species. It was agreed that these animals are in danger of disappearing, hence their Action Statement. The secretary must not override these scientific findings.

4. Victoria’s forest dependent threatened wildlife like Quolls and those that need hollow trees are in serious decline mostly due to logging.

5. The past decade of fires has added to Victoria’s forest wildlife’s serious decline .

6. Simply assuming that wildlife can ‘survive and flourish’ (to quote the FFGA) inside the small disjointed reserves is being irresponsible and unscientific.

7. Parks and reserves have historically been declared in areas deemed unnecessary for development or resource extraction, or are of low quality for other uses. This does not always provide the prime habitat needed for many rare species such as gliders and owls.

8. Habitat modelling is not a fool-proof way to protect rare wildlife. They can be found in unpredictable habitats and not found in seemingly suitable areas.

9. There is a very real possibility of wildlife being made extinct in Victoria due to ongoing habitat destruction.
This will have Ted Baillieu’s name on it.

10. There is no credibility in the claim of ‘balancing’ the needs of logging industry and environment. It has been balanced in favour of logging for the past 40 years.

11. Looking after species at a “landscape level” is also rubbish. The species are listed as needing protection for the very reason that they no longer occur “at a landscape level” but in small often isolated patches.

12. The exemption of the logging industry from the FFGA, via the Code is outrageous.

13. The fact that the secretary is unaccountable to anyone in this decision is an outrage. He MUST consult with experts, notify the public of a decision and give reasons and evidence he used. His decisions MUST be able to be scrutinised, reviewed and challenged. To cut out this basic tool of democracy to aid one industry is another outrage.

14. Every forest stand which supports a listed species MUST be left intact and not clearfelled and burnt by VicForests.

15. Baillieu promised his government would restore integrity, transparency and accountability. Let’s see it.

Jill Redwood
Environment East Gippsland

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This seemingly trivial change to the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2007 hides wide and damaging implications. The loggers won't do surbeys for every forests before logging - they want production, efficiency and income, and are not interested in wildlife or our forests' integrity.
It was agreed that the endangered animals are in danger of disappearing, by definition, hence their FFGA Action Statements. No one has the right to override these scientific findings for logging profits.
Already logging has threatened Victoria's last remaining Leadbeaters Possums at Toolangi, those that miraculously avoided Black Saturday's inferno. Fires and salvage logging has added problems to habitat as logs provide homes for many native birds and animals.
It's assumed that wildlife will simply breed and recover. We have policies to protect native vegetation and offsets, but nothing about protecting native species. Destroying habitats is a sure bullet to their destruction, and extinction is forever!
Our existing reserves are insufficient and even bushland birds, once common, are in serious decline. There needs to be a holistic and organised approach to protecting species. We cannot decide and force wildlife to exist where it's convenient economically.
If there's extinctions from logging in Victoria in the coming years, is this how our government, and Premier, wants to be remembered in history?
What "balance" do native animals have compared to the power of logging industries? Species have no economic or political power. The scales are very heavily already against their survival. They do not need any more impediments or burdens to their long term survival.
The "landscape" view is how we know that species are under threat and need protection, and watering it down is species genocide. It's simply nonsense.
Our forests and native birds and animals are an important part of our heritage, and they all play a part in maintaining ecological functions. They are not optional extras!