Yes, we’re still alive and kicking at https://eastgippsland.net.au/. We’ve been very preoccupied preparing another legal battle, but the good news is … our Supreme Court case which is arguing for effective Glider detection and protection, will begin this Monday (9th May).
Environment East Gippsland shouldn’t be forced down this costly road but they are … and it works! If anyone would like to share in this winning strategy you can send us a few bob so they can keep it going. Donations are tax-deductible (but we understand if people have thin piggy banks after Xmas). EEG has quite a few large bills to pay now. But their work isn’t over yet! Please drink a toast to all the players tonight – the EEG lawyers, the risk taking EEG team, and the GECO and FFRC surveyors – what a force! You can donate here.
Thursday 4th Feb 2015: Legal action forces VicForests to survey
Action taken by Environment East Gippsland and their lawyers, Environmental Justice Australia, has resulted in VicForests today agreeing to halt logging and survey for rare wildlife and plants in a stand of East Gippsland’s forests rich in threatened species.
“Sadly, since mid-January and while negotiations have been going on, VicForests continued to clearfell this amazingly valuable forest where four rare and threatened wildlife and two plant species were discovered by volunteer surveyors” said Jill Redwood from EEG. “It’s a shame that so much has been destroyed in this time, in an area that clearly should have been surveyed by trained biologists before the chainsaws moved in.”
The species recorded in the Kuark forest about 30km NE of Orbost, were the Long-footed Potoroo, Yellow-bellied Gliders, a new species of galaxias fish that only occurs in Kuark, a likely new, as yet undescribed species of crayfish, and two rare plants that should have 250m Special Management Zones applied.
“We have to wonder what gems we have lost over the years because the state government’s logging company calls the shots on whether an area should have a survey before it is clearfelled and burnt.”
“Sadly, Minister Neville’s Environment Department consistently refuse to order VicForests to survey for rare and threatened flora and fauna in areas slated for logging, so it’s left up to community groups to engage lawyers” said Felicity Millner of Environmental Justice Australia.
“We welcome this belated action by VicForests in this instance” said Ms Millner.
“We will be watching closely how their actions are carried out and are leaving our options open at this stage”, said Jill Redwood.
Wednesday 3rd February marks the 19th anniversary of an agreement that has allowed the logging industry a legal exemption from Australia’s environment laws. Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland, where this exemption from commonwealth laws was first introduced says the Turnbull government is planning to instate another 20 years of this special treatment. When the agreement between the state and federal govt was signed, EGipp was promised a multi-million dollar economic boost – 400 new jobs – a bright future. There were 20 sawmills at the time – it’s now down to 5. It employs less than 0.05% of the regional workforce. The joint MR of 3rd Feb 1997 promised world class protection of old growth and biodiversity – both of which have declined rapidly in that time.
“We have one more year before this archaic agreement expires. To continue this out-dated, anti-environmental exemption to the laws for a passé and declining industry is deplorable”.
“Being exempt from environmental laws has caused the status of many forest dependent wildlife to take a nose dive. Some are now critically endangered, like the Leadbeaters Possum (Victoria’s faunal emblem) and the Swift Parrot while others like our Gliders are being added to threatened species lists”.
“We need to make native forest logging accountable” said Jill Redwood. “It’s time to bring it in line with other Australian industries and strip its preferential treatment. It has had 19 years of immunity from the law at great cost to our forests and the public purse”.
“Such critical wildlife habitat is worth far more standing than as a cheap export commodity. Our timber needs are 85% supplied by tree plantations. This is where the jobs and security for the industry is”.
“Over the past 19 years our forests in East Gippsland and across the country have been systematically clearfelled, mostly sold cheaply to overseas pulp and paper factories”.
“It’s time to set in place a new phase of valuing forests, keeping them upright and onshore for the many values they provide for Australia”.
East Gippsland: VicForests is being very cooperative in giving Environment East Gippsland (EEG) new grounds for legal action. Not only had they just commenced logging in an area which EEG believes is a rich stand of forest for rare wildlife, but bold as brass, their contractors yet again cleared right to the edge of a patch of rainforest leaving no buffer. This, after all the bad media they received when found to have destroyed rainforest near Hensleigh Creek earlier this year.
While EEG pulls out the legal artillery, GECO held up logging today by a tree-sitter cabled down to 5 machines – immobilising operations.
This is what some call a nicely timed ‘one-two’.
Below is EEG's media release regarding the legal details. Just 24 hours after the legal letter was sent from EJA who are representing EEG, VicForests lawyers replied saying they were pulling out!
VicForests stops logging after legal action
Just one day after lawyers presented a ‘please explain’ letter to the CEO of VicForests, logging has been stopped and machinery will be pulled out of a high habitat value stand of forest where tree felling had commenced, north east of Orbost.
“We believe the logging that took place was unlawful but appreciate VicForests now suspending operations,” said Jill Redwood, of Environment East Gippsland.
“Although VicForests deny there were any breaches of the law, they have decided not to continue logging here in order to assist the State Government’s Forest Industry Taskforce. This is currently considering deferral of logging in controversial areas of high conservation value. The Taskforce is considering future issues facing the industry and protection of the State’s flora and fauna”.
“While we are heartened to see VicForests cooperation in this instance, we have also made them aware of a number of other areas of high quality habitat planned for imminent logging where we believe the law requires a survey. We are waiting to hear back and will be keeping our eye on VicForests operations in these areas.”
A logger recently posted this nasty message to forest activists on a day when they were meeting to negotiate the protection of giant trees.
This one image is so powerful, it will permanently destroy any claims of ‘sustainability’ or ‘environmental concern’ by the industry and VicForests.
The logger who posted this boastful image on an environment group’s Facebook page clearly illustrates his industry’s brazen contempt for the community.
It was posted the same day EEG and others met with DELWP on giant tree protection (21/10/15).
This is why we need urgent interim measures for giant tree protection while prescriptions are developed. There are not many of these leviathans left out there!
Ask Daniel Andrews #087108;font-weight:normal;text-decoration:underline" target="_blank">[email protected]
The Royal Commission recommended burns to over 5% of our natural landscape annually have finally been shown to be a waste of time, money and horrifically damaging to our biodiversity.
The recent review (link is external) of the burn targets used 12 criteria to measure how effective the blunt hectare-based target is compared to the proposed risk-reduction target. The hectare burns scored 13/48 (a serious flunk!) while a risk-based target scored 40/48. This is what EEG and thousands of others have been saying since day one. This excellent and informative summary originally published by Environment East Gippsland (EEG) here: http://www.eastgippsland.net.au/news/planned-burns-review-and-recommendations-%E2%80%93-admits-failure-%E2%80%93-plans-for-more-effective-risk See also AWPC fire and wildlife conference for more background.
In Feb 2015 Environment Minister, Lisa Neville asked for a review of the 5% burn target and their effectiveness. Tony Pearce, the Inspector General of Emergency Management released this report and recommendations in April/May - a surprisingly quick turnaround time.
It was welcome relief to see the review recommend a shift from just burning, to look at more effective measures to keep people safe and the environment protected. Let’s hope our wildlife and ecosystems can recover after five years of horrendous arson attacks across millions of hectares.
One worrying aspect was the suggestion that it could take another year of the old burning regime before they can implement the new direction of reducing risk rather than reducing our environment. They still need to develop their capability on risk-based planning they say. With a score of 13/48, and maximum environmental damage to boot, maybe they’d be better off to not burn at all until they develop their new program.
What the report said
The Review acknowledges that Rec 56 of the Bushfire Royal Commission just had a broad 5% target policy to burn areas that “are not of equal value”, and that it refers to public land “but remains silent on whether that land is treatable or untreatable”. p2.
In 2013, Neil Comrie the Bushfire Royal Commission Implementation Monitor stated clearly in his report that the 5% target was not achievable, affordable or sustainable. This was repeated in subsequent reports.
The Code of Fire Management has 2 primary objectives – one being to minimise the risk of bushfire and protect human life. The other which has been totally neglected in the last 5 years is:
To maintain or improve the resilience of natural ecosystems and their ability to deliver services such as biodiversity, water, carbon storage and forest products. P 30
How they measure ecosystem resilience is still a question. DELWP don’t have the capacity despite it being a requirement of them to ensure such resilience. It’s still ‘in development’.
The review stated that a risk based approach was:
• More efficient at achieving fuel management
• Provides better incentives (not relying on a numbers game)
• More adaptive, transparent, efficient and equitable.
After years of convincing the public that leaf litter is a killer, the Department fire managers now have to re-set their messaging to convince a fearful public that they were a bit wrong, and there are now better ways to make communities safer. They mention shared responsibility - with other agencies and by encouraging people to be responsible for their own assets we assume. There is also a welcome acknowledgment of the serious health and economic impacts from burn-off smoke.
They talk of community preparedness, shared responsibility, improved rapid first-strike attack, fire shelters and evacuation. We would also like to see them consider other options such as remote heat sensing cameras installed at key points, enhancing the natural fire resistance of our forests and less financial incentives to keep fires going.
Another welcome sentence was:
...bushfire risk can be reduced through activities other than fuel management, such as land use planning controls, community education, suppression strategies, availability of fire refuges, or evacuations…”
…recommendation 56 (5% burn target)… is only one of many relating to bushfire management.
There was a telling chart which showed the level of planned burns in relation to major bushfire events. There was no correlation that could be drawn between more burns and less bushfires.
Modelling by DELWP estimates that the 5% burn target reduces bushfire risk to people by about 18%, whereas the risk based approach could achieve a 30% risk reduction for the same cost.
The environment gets a look in
The review received 127 written submissions from groups or individuals. Most were very concerned at the devastating impacts the burns policy has had on their local and the wider environment. The policy evaluation which the review carried out showed that under the criteria ‘ensure the resilience of natural ecosystems and their services’, the 5% burn target score ZERO out of four. Under the proposed new approach, it scores three out of four. Not only that, but it is also more effective at keeping people safe and the best return on money spent. A fire safety plan where ecosystem protection scores four out of four would be even better though.
The report also mentions the need to monitor water and air quality in relation to burns. There is a need for more information, reporting, performance measurements and reviews, and in a way that is accessible to the public it says. All this would be conditional on funding and resources of course.
The RMIT was engaged to carry out an independent analysis of the impact on the environment. Under the 5% target it said:
The primacy of the hectares burned target dis-incentivises incorporation of ecosystem resilience considerations… Ecosystem resilience can be actively harmed by large scale burns when they destroy micro-ecosystems and fauna lack alternative habitats within reach. Appendix 4, p11.
Regarding ‘fuel reduction’ it also states that:
Given planned burning is the most effective approach to reducing the fuel hazard over large areas, the practice is likely to remain a significant component of the Bushfire Management Program. p46.
So while it states that there are many tools in the tool box and burning was a costly, relatively ineffective and environmentally destructive tool, it will still be a significant part of annual fire safety measures. This was the worrying sentence within an otherwise refreshing document. The only other criticism is that the review was five years too late. But we thank Lisa Neville for realising that such a rethink was finally needed.
Environment East Gippsland (EEG) has won its fourth successful legal case, in a remarkable series for this David vs the Goliath of logging and destroying habitat. Over 2000 hectares have been set aside for owl habitat in a legal win for the owls. This was EEG's fourth Court case challenging the government's non-adherence to its own environment laws and it was settled on 17 July 2015, in favour of the owls!
EEG, DELWP and VicForests have agreed that the environment department (DELWP) take action to adhere to legal obligations and increase owl protected areas as well as assess the damage done to owl habitat and study owls post-fire to inform whether new protection zones are necessary. Logging in key areas of unprotected owl habitat scheduled for clearfelling will be halted for 4 years while this work is underway.
The department and VicForests have agreed to:
- move 9 stands of old growth forest off the logging schedule and into protection zones
- put a 4 year moratorium on another 16 stands of prime owl habitat planned for clearfelling
- increase the size of all owl protected areas that are below legal minimums in East Gippsland
- task biologists to study owls post-fire and consider if additional owl protection measures are needed
- carry out assessments of burnt owl zones
- pay a portion of our considerable legal costs
The department and VicForests have agreed to:
- move 9 stands of old growth forest off the logging schedule and into protection zones
- put a 4 year moratorium on another 16 stands of prime owl habitat planned for clearfelling
- increase the size of all owl protected areas that are below legal minimums in East Gippsland
- task biologists to study owls post-fire and consider if additional owl protection measures are needed
- carry out assessments of burnt owl zones
- pay a portion of our considerable legal costs
Specific areas include:
An additional 180ha added to a protection site for the Powerful Owl in the Cobon forest including 58ha that was scheduled for clearfelling. An additional 1,390 ha of good quality forest for the Masked Owls (including 500ha within Kuark and 36ha that was scheduled for logging).
Brown Mountain’s remaining unprotected stands of 580ha (including a Powerful Owl nest site) to be included in a Special Protection Zone, including 185ha that was scheduled for logging.
Forests totalling 537ha planned for imminent clearfelling will be put under a 4 year moratorium. This includes old growth areas of:
- 235 ha around Bonang-Bendoc
- 65ha at Martins Creek
- 237ha around Kuark/Freds Track
The case was launched 10 month ago when the Napthine government was in power. Then Ministers Walsh and Smith refused to review the owl protection zones. Although we were disappointed that the new Labor government chose to continue along the legal path for some 7 months, we are pleased that it now accepts that it must do more work to ensure our large forest owls survive.
We look forward to working with the department on these owl protection measures over the next year while continuing to demand permanent protection for all remaining old growth forests and the many other threatened wildlife species in East Gippsland.
In summer 2014 bushfires raged across some of East Gippsland’s best old growth forests in and around the Snowy River National Park. The loss of primary habitat for many threatened wildlife was obvious. The constant crashing of hollow bearing trees for 2 months (and afterwards, thanks to the department’s habit of falling every big tree within cooee of a track) made it clear this would have a shocking toll on wildlife – especially those dependent on old trees with large hollows.
There were 46 protected owl zones impacted in the final 170,000ha of burnt forest (much of which was deliberately burnt by the department). Some zones suffered very severe fire that killed trees and ‘evaporated’ the understorey. Others had less severe fire through them but still resulted in many hollow bearing trees being lost.
Owls, gliders, frogs, bandicoots, potoroos and untold other species were wiped out in the inferno. It will take decades for the damage from this shockingly managed fire to start to recover. East Gippsland’s rare species that relied on the Snowy Park for refuge will now be under even greater threat and need all the help they can get.
How many more outrageous options for our state’s (planet’s) most valuable climate moderators and wildlife arks can they come up with?! Whole logs to China now. Not even processed (value added!) into woodchips. Has VicForests also got Daniel Andrews by the short and curlies? In The Age today… http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/victorian-forests-bound-for-china-under-secret-andrews-government-rescue-plan-20150712-gian0v.html Discussion on ABC Gippsland’s facebook page … https://www.facebook.com/ABCGippsland/timeline
Victorian forests bound for China under secret Andrews Government rescue plan Date July 12, 2015 - 7:42PM by Josh Gordon, State Political Editor
Victoria's low grade native timber could soon be packed into shipping containers bound for China and other cut-price countries for processing under a rescue plan to help ailing state timber company VicForests.
VicForests has been left without a market for hundreds of thousands of tonnes of so-called "residual" timber following the loss of a key contract with Japanese-owned wood-chip company South East Fibre Exports (SEFE).
In response, the Andrews government is now considering relaxing a rule requiring local processing before export in a bid to open up new markets for the struggling state-owned wood business.
A confidential November 2013 Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) briefing seen by The Age confirms the industry has for months been lobbying to relax the requirement for domestic processing of timber.
"VicForests indicates the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) now supports relaxing certain aspects of the export restrictions," the briefing to former treasurer Michael O'Brien, said. "Such a change should lead to improved outcomes for both VicForests and industry. DTF supports the reconsideration of the timber export policy."
Last week GECO - Goongerah Environment Centre reported an illegal rainforest logging operation that has occurred on the Errinundra Plateau, East Gippsland. We documented the destruction and sent a report to the Victorian government. The mainstream media reported it, Australians called, emailed, tweeted and talked about it. They asked the Environment Minister to end this senseless destruction and immediately stop logging. The pressure was felt in her office but logging continues and the forests need you to act again.
GECO - Goongerah Environment Centre reports:
Logging machinery was taken out of the area for a short time and some restrictions have been placed on where logging can now occur. But yesterday we observed that logging has recommenced and ancient trees, some up to 600 years old, near the area where rainforest has been logged are falling today!
We need to act now and let the Victorian Government know that if this matter is being taken seriously all logging operations in the area must immediately stop!
You can remind the Minister's office of the following points.
- Rainforest is a listed as a threatened community under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFGA).
- The Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act requires VicForests to comply with the Code of Practice for Timber Production which forbids the logging of rainforest.
- Evidence is overwhelming that VicForests has illegally logged Rainforest in breach of these two Acts.
- While an investigation takes place, all operations need to stop.
- VicForests need to be penalised and kicked out of the coupe.
#10;<p><strong>- At this stage, we know that at least a quarter of the coupe has been logged illegally. Continuing operations in the coupe may also be in breach of the law. So it's important to immediatley stop all operations until an investigation is complete.</strong><br><br><strong>- VicForests should be forced to reserve an area equivalent in size to the area that was logged illegally.</strong><br><br><strong>- The area of logged rainforest is about one hectare in size, it should have been given a 40 m buffer of retained trees either side of it. So it's not just rainforest that has been illegally logged, ancient trees (like the one in the photo at the top of this email) that should have been buffering the rainforest have been illegally logged.</strong><br><br></p> <p><img src=" />
- Once the investigation concludes, the government need to prosecute VicForests for breaking our state environment laws.
In your letters it's important to emphasise that VicForests are the problem here. The Minister's department enforces laws to protect rainforest but the rogue forest agency of VicForests think they don't need to obey them. They must be prosecuted and the logging must be stopped.
Our rainforests are unique, rare and precious and illegal logging of them by VicForests is an abomination that flies in the face of state environment laws. This sort of reckless destruction doesn't belong in the 21st century.
Thanks for taking action. You have the power to stop the destruction and if we all join our voices and make ourselves heard we can get the loggers out.
For the forests,
GECO - Goongerah Environment Centre.
Comments made against EEG last October have resulted in Minister Peter Walsh stepping back and making a public apology today, 19 March 2014. The apology to Environment East Gippsland was published on his parliamentary website. Peter Walsh is the Deputy Leader of the Victorian Nationals and Minister for Agriculture, Security and Water.
The Minister’s media comments in October last year stated that EEG
“…continue(s) to attack Victoria’s responsible and sustainable native forest industry, often wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars”.
In today’s apology, he retracted those statements.
“In fact what EEG has done is successfully take three legal actions against VicForests and DEPI for their refusal to adhere to state environmental legislation”,
said Jill Redwood, Coordinator of the group.
“If VicForests and the government department would simply behave themselves, small community groups would not be forced to sue them for being environmentally recklessness”.
“Minister Walsh said that a ‘major factor’ in the recent serious financial losses of VicForests, was due to our group taking action against them”
said Ms Redwood.
“The statements suggested that it was us who wasted tax payers dollars, not VicForests or DEPI, that we have no respect for the court system, and that we have ulterior motives besides protecting the environment.”
It’s been suggested that bills estimated up to $200,000 for this and a previous case against Peter Walsh for defaming another environment group will come out of the tax-payers pockets rather than the Minister’s own pocket.
Minister Walsh shows poor judgement to accuse a one-desk environment group in East Gippsland of being a ‘major factor’ for recent VicForests losses. VicForests logs public forests for free yet has made losses in eight years out of ten. Minister Walsh’s unrestrained comments seem to match the style of a forestry industry without restraint.
On the same day as Minister Walsh published his apology and retraction, he issued a media release that Victoria is to trial processing meat from kangaroo culls for pet food. http://www.peterwalsh.org.au/_blog/Media_Releases/post/victoria-to-trial-processing-of-kangaroo-meat/ This will cause immense anguish amongst groups that have campaigned unsuccessfully for wildlife corridors and the preservation of habitat to prevent kangaroos from being disorganised and forced onto agricultural land and roads.
AS I WRITE, the bulldozers and chainsaws are brutalising another superb stand of ancient forest not far from where I am just out of Orbost, south-eastern Victoria. (This article is an extract from one on the ABC. See inside for link.)
Chainsaws and bulldozers are operating in Orbost, eastern Victoria, and trees have stood for 600 years, sheltering and feeding generations of greater gliders and powerful owls and other species, and being logged.
The lush understorey of ferns and blanket leaf have kept delicate lichens and mosses damp and cool in the hottest summers over the millennia. Liquid eyed marsupials will be huddling terrified in their hollows as these giants crash and splinter in a sickening thud that shakes the earth and shocks the heart. After this brutality, the remaining vegetation is deliberately incinerated with a ring of intensely hot fire. Nothing escapes. It's all part of the 'sustainable forest management' lie that our governments feed us, hoping to hide the reality with a curtain of pleasing language.
Australia's forests have many native wildlife and plant species are teetering on the edge of extinction, but the assistance offered is little more than recognition and shallow sympathy, laced with lip service and PR spin. East Gippsland is a prime example of this situation. It has been described by Professor David Bellamy as "the most diverse area of temperate forest I know of on Earth".
For more detail see the original article A government devoid of morals: Jill Redwood
Why, in a developed country should small regional volunteer groups, Environment East Gippsland, which run on a meagre budget, be forced to take on the behemoth monster that is the government? The government and its logging agency VicForests agreed to abide by their own laws after being forced to the steps of the Supreme Court.
As a result of EEG's legal challenge, the beautiful glossy black cockatoo finally had a draft action statement drawn up last month after waiting 18 years on the threatened species list. But Minister Walsh's staff have found a loophole — they now learn that although the plan itself is a legal obligation, it doesn't need to have concrete protection measures.
There's no obligation, or guarantee, for the survival of our native animals. Governments "may" make recovery and protection plans, but it's not mandatory. It's all a facade, and political spin.
Email for Minister for Agriculture and Food Security:
Election: Less than three weeks to go. ...Two of the three major parties are set to reduce environmental protection if they get in. Grass roots groups (like SERCA, EEG and MyEnvironment) have been flat out trying to get the environment up as an issue. Lib-Labs are loathe to put a spotlight on the environment because it’s too politically painful for them. It reeks of ruthless destruction and shameless corruption. The carbon price is the nearest we seem to get. Join the protests every Friday night at 437 Bourke St, Melbourne.
Below are a few stories EEG has managed to get a small amount of media exposure on. Also – tomorrow’s ABC radio program AM (7am RN, 8am local ABC), should have another story on the environment and threatened species. Listen out for it.
We need everyone who cares to help push the environment whenever you can – letters to editors, responses to media stories and asking for environment policies from your local reps/candidates.
The recent leak of a diabolical ‘secret’ report on the loss of our native wildlife is very damning and damaging (see below) but a good foot in the door for the media’s election stories.
Report and correspondence from Jill Redwood, Environment East Gippsland
Join the protesters at 437 Bourke St, Melbourne city every Friday night
For two months VicForests head office has been targeted every Friday. The level of public support has been amazing. Thousands of pamphlets have been handed out describing VicForests impact on our forests and their shocking financial history. As it gets dark, movies are projected showing the destruction of our forests. If you can come down to join in the fun please do so. Drinks and pizza afterwards.
MyEnvironment will be harassing VicForests every Friday. Please get along if you can.
Napthine shovels threatened wildlife into extinction pit
A suppressed state govt report is telling us that our wildlife is fast being tipped into the pit of extinction – knowingly!
Entire wildlife species are still being sacrificed for the greed of corporates. In this instance the logging mafia demands access to hundreds of thousands of ha of public native forests to shred for woodchips! (and the Liberal party doesn't mind the odd political donation).
Both the Long-footed Potoroo and the Leadbeaters Possum are mentioned. The secret report says that existing reserves are pathetically inadequate and more forest needs to be protected from logging.
Govt says the report will be released sometime in the near future - and we suspect it will be after they have gone through and totally sanitised it.
See the Age article from 16th August 2013.
Possum needs more room to survive
After ABC's PM program ran a story on the plight of the Leadbeaters Possum's on 14th Aug, the government refused an invitation to respond, instead referring the journalist to the logging lobby group, VAFI!
So Napthine is now putting the logging industry up to publicly speak about the management of threatened species that they are wiping out - can this lot get any more crazy?
Bushfire Commission monitor - 5% target questioned
This just shows how expendable our natural ecosystems and wildlife are in exchange for cheap political expedience.
This quote is taken from the latest report of the Bushfires Royal Commission’s independent monitor, Neil Comrie(p.63). Thousands of people, including scientists and biologists have been saying this since day one.
For Recommendation 57 which covers impacts on biodiversity, Comrie says (p. 65) that the DEPI report that was due in October 2012 is still ‘in progress’. He says that he has ‘a particular interest in biodiversity impacts reported in the DEPI 2012-13 Annual Report on their Planned Burning Program’. He seems to have put DEPI on notice re the impact of these burns on native species and biodiversity. That report is due in a month or so. From what we can tell, the ecological impacts are not monitored.
Neil Comrie’s report can be downloaded here.
Koalas to die as forests burned for fuel
The O'Farrell govt in NSW is planning to open the doors wide open to cut down and burn native forests. If it gets up it will be the template for other states to follow suit. Please send a message to O'Farrell here http://nccnsw.org.au/take-action/stop-burning-forest-for-energy
Even if you don’t live in NSW.
Carbon trading scheme endangers wildlife; biodiversity funds cut
Why the new carbon trading scheme will endanger wildlife and the env – biodiversity fund projects now to get the chop.
The new threat to Australia’s forests are getting a funding boost to progress the insane plan, thanks to the Tassie “Peace deal”.
Groups representing thousands of Australians intend seeking meetings with Federal MPs to see where they stand on population growth and are calling for a referendum on the issues.
Peak environmental and planning groups in Victoria have cooperated to create a people’s Population Charter which says to the growth lobbyists “enough!”
Protectors of Public Lands Victoria, Green Wedges Coalition, Planning Backlash, Environment East Gippsland, and the Vic/Tas branch of Sustainable Population Australia represent thousands of Victorians concerned that urban and rural amenity is being paved over as our urban open space, productive farmland and critical wildlife habitats are lost to more and more development.
The group intends to seek meetings with various Federal MPs to assess their support for action on population growth, and is also calling for a referendum to gauge the level of support for government to adopt a population policy which is responsive to the environmental carrying capacity of each region whilst also observing our international humanitarian obligations.
Acting Victorian president of Sustainable Population Australia and charter spokesperson Jenny Warfe says:
“Representative democracy is failing us. From Tecoma to Collingwood and Port Campbell to Gippsland, environmental and community groups are battling developer juggernauts, road and toll way builders. We are all having the same arguments over and over again with decision makers who don’t care what their constituents want, just what their developer mates want. And they want more of everything. It’s time to take back the decision making process about critical environmental and planning issues before unchecked population expansion rolls over all that is dear to us and critical for our future survival.”
It is fascinating to note that the bulk of the people leading and animating these groups are women, standing up to the male-dominated ideology of forced population growth in Australia.
As a result of a peculiarity in the way Government works, the motion to call native forest furnace electricity ‘renewable energy’, has been sneakily placed on the 'non-controversial' list. That means that unless the Labor Government decides to force a vote, within days this back-door change in renewable energy policy could sneak through Parliament without there even being a vote!
Tony Windsor has publicly stated he won’t be voting for the Oakeshott motion to burn forests for power – thanks to all of you who emailed and called as per our last ‘call for action’. BUT …
…as a result of a peculiarity in the way Government works, the motion to call native forest furnace electricity ‘renewable energy’, has been sneakily placed on the 'non-controversial' list. That means that unless the Labor Government decides to force a vote, within days this back-door change in renewable energy policy could sneak through Parliament without there even being a vote!
Your local Labor MP has the power to lobby their peers to prioritise this vote before it's too late. We can't let this go through without a democratic vote. Can you contact your local MP and urge them to make sure this is the number 1 issue in Parliament when it returns on Monday? Get-Up is calling on all Australian’s to get cracking on this – before our forests get thrown into power furnaces, as renewable energy! and with financial credits to boot!
Window of two days only - Parliament votes on Monday
We've got just 2 days to make sure the government prioritises this issue and brings it on for a vote first thing Monday. Please – can you contact your Labor MP or Senator now to ask them if they’ll stand up for our forests? Click here to find your local pollie.
Last year, the Greens, Independents and Labor passed the climate agreement with the Greens’ critical provision - to make sure that burning native-forests in power plants won’t be classified as renewable energy. The logging industry has been lobbying Oakeshott hard to reverse this provision. If this is allowed to go through – our remaining forests will disappear into the atmosphere as carbon pollution, and the regrowth as well - for decades to come. This one is super critical ! Please help if you can.
Responding to a press release about global problems of illegal logging, Australian forest activist, Jill Redwood says, "This illegal logging is not just limited to developing countries or where there are corrupt regimes - it is happening right now in Australia and has been for the past 50 years." The press release came from a volunteering organisation, Projects Abroad, better known for foreign aid projects which young people pay to participate in. It seems to be advertising for volunteers to join a project in Taricaya in South America where it claims to own 476 hectares of Amazon rainforest, where it is running, among other activities, a 'pilot farm', which doesn't sound too good. Projects abroad press release also seems to indicate faith in forest preservation policies marketed by the World Bank and Interpol. Environmentalists tend to see the World Bank as a driver of deforestation. And then there is the question of 'volunteering'...
What comes across the candobetter.net editorial desk
It is interesting to see what comes across the candobetter editorial desk - which is a very informal virtual piece of furniture with multiple occupants. Like any newspaper, we get press releases from all over the world. They are targeted according to the way that candobetter is perceived by the agencies that redistribute press releases. This one, about Projects Abroad, took a while to unravel. Projects Abroad does not sound like your typical conservation activist organisation. It looks more like a business organisation out to make money from peoples' interests and concerns about poverty and their desire for adventure. It wasn't conveying any real news, since it was only restating information that has already been carried in the mass media. This information, however, relates to forest conservation, which is of interest to candobetter.net. On the other hand, candobetter.net tends to cast a jaundiced eye on foreign aid organisations, because of their reputation of being Fagins. (Fagin was the Dickens character who trained destitute little boys to thieve for him.) So we also had a look at Projects Abroad. Hence the rather long title of this article.
The facts below came in the press release from Projects Abroad. They originated at ‘Chainsaw’ [.pdf file], a joint World Bank and Interpol project of interest which probably won't get much support from the World Bank, we dare say:
What is happening to the world's forests
Between 20% and 50% of all timber sold worldwide has been illegally sourced
For many years the volume of timber taken from rainforests by far out-strips the rate of planting
When this is allied to illegal logging, worldwide deforestation will reach crisis point – beyond which restoration will be extremely difficult – at some time this year.
The average rotation of planting timber is only between 30 and 40 years which is not long enough for the trees to produce the volume of wood necessary to satisfy worldwide requirements. This inevitably leads to continuing illegal ingress into the primary forest.
‘Chainsaw’ [.pdf file] – a joint project between the World Bank and Interpol – reported last year that an area of the world’s rainforest the size of Austria was illegally felled every twelve months. (See below, "The Chainsaw project," for an informative extract commenting on possibilities and difficulties policing illegal logging and trafficking of logs.)
The only way forward [according to the World Bank] is through much stiffer timber security and for affluent western countries to pay emerging nations to preserve their forests - probably under a scheme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).
[So what do we do about a country like Australia, when, although it is not deemed 'an emerging nation', it is illegally felling or unwisely felling its remaining forests, both public and private?]
Deforestation accounts for very nearly a quarter of all the greenhouse gasses created by human activity each year.
Jill Redwood: "Shocking but not at all surprising!"
Responding to the statements above, Australian forest activist, Jill Redwood of Environment East Gippsland, wrote,
"My response would be to say that this illegal logging is not just limited to developing countries or where there are corrupt regimes - it is happening right now in Australia and has been for the past 50 years. Our forest agencies and the government protection they receive is simply more sophisticated, with public relations firms, spin doctors and compliant regulatory schemes that overlook and excuse the illegal nature of forest destruction in Australia. Court cases from Tasmania and Gippsland, launched by environment groups and individuals have shown that logging is being carried out against the laws we have to protect endangered wildlife. Audits have shown for years that rainforest is logged illegally, environmental codes are breached on a daily basis and nothing is done besides government media stating how logging management is improving every year.
We are converting old growth primary forests into industrial pulpwood tree crops over public land at great public expense and losing our rare wildlife as well. Not much difference to Indonesia or Borneo really. Our governments are just better at hiding that fact."
Not only is Australia devastating its own forests, but you can also import illegally taken logs through the holes in our importing regulations. Professor William Laurance is trying to alert Australians to the risk of buying wood furniture made in China because of the high risk that it is made from wood harvested illegally in Africa, South America, Asia or Papua New Guinea. Source: "Call for tighter laws to halt illegal timber imports," Canberra Times, February 6, 2012
Who are Projects Abroad?
The press release sent to candobetter.net quoting Dr Peter Slowe quoting the Chainsaw Report also informs us that "Volunteers visiting Project Abroad’s Taricaya project are given the opportunity to take part in important research work and biodiversity studies into all types of flora and fauna. Taricaya has South America’s highest canopy walkway, a freshwater turtle project, and a pilot farm." What sort of a farm, one wonders, in the middle of the rainforest? Don't the indigenous people already know how to preserve the rainforest? Reports from any Projects Abroad volunteers on this farm and the situation surrounding it would be interesting, but we have none to hand.
Projects Abroad also tells us that "Projects Abroad has sent more than 41,000 volunteers to 27 different countries since its inception in 1992. Last year, they sent around 8,000 volunteers on projects and are predicting an increase of at least 10% this year."
Whilst appreciating the news-feed on this vital issue, we wonder why this organisation relies so much on volunteers and what it spends its funds on. It is hard to trust an organisation which markets itself through its founder's early connections with the UK Blair Government.
For these reasons we tried to check out Projects Abroad. We discovered that Projects Abroad fits the 'foreign aid' category that is so abused by entrepreneurs, governments, outsourcers and exporters. We found a Projects Abroad website which had a page responding to accusations that Projects Abroad was a volunteering scam.
We also found this very interesting page, which contained the following reports from past Projects Abroad volunteers.
Projects Abroad Complaints and Reviews - Abusing poverty to gain income
After visiting Arusha in Tanzania to visit local projects, such as schools and orphanages, I visited one specific orphanage where it became clear to me that Projects Abroad, an UK based organization (say Company), sends volunteers there to help at the home and school and stay with local host families. Great I would think first, but when I started talking to the 'volunteers' who came from the USA and the UK it became clear they pay 1500 USD per month to work in an orphanage and NONE of this money goes to the project. A host family with food will not cost more then 250 USD and sure some money needs to go the the organizing party, but so much money and NOTHING goes to those in need; orphans, children who need education and have no food...I am shocked but also appalled that this 'organization' is nothing more then making money over the backs of poor people. Shame on you...the name of Herman was mentioned several times as it seems this character works for these greedy people in Arusha. BE AWARE for these companies, look around on the web, there are plenty of smaller organizations that charge much less and that support the projects they work with!
I also agree Projects Abroad is not a well run organization, that likely is not spending money where it is most needed. I also don't agree with having so many different types of projects at a location that they are unable to focus on the needs of any. It's possible they do better work in certain projects, such as care (working in orphanages) but my experience with a medical project was poor and I wouldn't recommend this organization for medical work.
I am a physical therapist from the US and I went to Bolivia to work in a pediatric burn unit through Projects Abroad. The staff was friendly, but otherwise very unorganized and gave me no guidance whatsoever as to prior volunteer experiences in the burn unit, so I was thrown into my job with very minimal information about the needs at the burn unit. I would have been ok with this if it was a new 'project', except, after returning to the office frequently with questions about any information from prior volunteers, I was finally handed a binder that had some brief essays prior volunteers had written about their work in the burn unit. Only a handful of physios had been there before and I found some notes their supervisor had written, but no essays. I only found essays from the med students and nurses who had been there before. Maybe they hadn't written an essay? It's possibly, but after my experience I have to wonder if they accidently 'lost' them. Regardless of my lack of information, and no prior experience myself working in a burn unit, I threw myself into my work and made a place for myself at the burn unit. I worked very hard at talking to various supervising people at the hospital to learn the politics there- who to know to really get things done...etc... My Spanish significantly improved, and I learned a lot about what they need there. Unfortunately, four months was a good amount of time to get enough information to start developing a real 'project' at the burn unit. But with my continued visits to the office to try to discuss my need to communicate with a future volunteer so we can continue a project I was told I was not allowed to get their email (I was told a nurse was coming the month after I was leaving). I did write a very long essay before I left describing what I learned, and pleaded with them to send me the email of any new volunteers that come to the burn unit. It's been 7 months since I left, and have not heard a single word from the staff.
There is also no transparency as to where the money goes. I don't want to blame the office staff though, they all seem to have no clue either- the money management all happens in the UK they say. I was told if could get maybe 25-50 US dollars worth of materials for the burn unit per month within their budget, but wasn't told this until my second month in, and only because I was incessant in my questioning of the staff about where the money goes. I was told if we wanted to spend any more money than that, we had to fill out a form, and request it from the UK and that could take months (I would be gone by that time and had no faith in trusting the staff to spend that money appropriately and no ability to communicate with a future volunteer) Again I really had to poke around just to get that bit of information. I believe only 150US went to my host family, from what I learned from the family, so I am in agreement that very little goes to the actual 'project', considering I spent over 1000US per month to be there.
But my biggest frustration with projects abroad is that there is no way they can sustain a 'project' if they don't allow volunteers to communicate with one another. I did enjoy the work I did in Bolivia, lived with a fabulous host family, and intend to return to Bolivia this year to maintain my contacts with the staff in the burn unit, and PT students that I worked with. BUT there is not way I would give one more penny to Projects Abroad- I will be able to get there on my own and don't need any 'help' from a volunteer organization that gave me much more frustration than assistance.
I agree! I just spent $2, 400 to volunteer in an orphanage in Jamaica. When I got there we were told by the orphange staff members that there was no need for more volunteers. Of course Projects Abroad said there was still a need because I was realized this is a company out for a profit. Jamaica can not handle many volunteers, yet they are still priding themselves on how many volunteers arrive as opposed to the actual impact they have at the volunteer sites. I feel that I was taken advantage of by this program!
I don't understand these complains. Projects-abroad is a pure profit company: they sell poverty and solidarity. Their customers paid for that: they want to be volunteer, to live an adventure but "all-included" and something well organized...
Their job is to make money, don't complain that they don't give enough to hospital or the hosting families, they are not a charity organization ...
If you really want to be volunteer, join a non profit volunteer organization. Maybe their web site will be not so nice, but at least they know what a volunteer project is... and it will cost you more or less nothing...
check for ex: www.servicevolontaire.org, www.vap.uk, www.afs.org, www.sjvietnam.org, www.javva.org, ...
Thanks for the tip, I wish I had known everything you just said before I went though. That's why I'm upset, the website makes it look like it IS a charity organization (call me stupid but I thought it was a non profit before I went), and takes advantage of people like me (there are many others I met while I was there who thought the same) who are naive. We felt cheated and used- but yes, it was because we were uninformed going into it. Also the 'well organized' part is totally false, at least for the program I went on. For a for-profit company, and the money we pay, they could do a much better job at organizing the projects themselves. They have so many projects going, they don't know which way is up or down with most of them. Half of my frustration in Bolivia was that I was trying to help Projects Abroad Bolivia itself (not just the burn unit) become more organized and get some basic communication going between subsequent volunteers, and wasn't getting support or interest by the local staff in my efforts.
I went on this website, not to just whine about the program- I understand the mistake I made when choosing a program, and I want to help others make better decisions. Thanks also for posting the links.
FYI I did go back to Bolivia for a month on my own, did the same work I had done before, and had a much more satisfying experience! It's just heartbreaking to see that they really need help there, and I know Projects Abroad is not going to start anything sustainable there- it would be up to me or someone else to work on that...
Absolutely have to agree with above comments. Went to Nepal last year as a fully qualified physician with some physician colleagues - at the time of application the website suggested we would be working with the poor and would be provided with translators (so we could be somewhat effective). In the end our complaints are too numerous to count but we met with many of the heads of Projects Abroad in Nepal who were all very wealthy and connected. We were never able to provide any useful medical treatment because no one was able to translate for us except for the local doctors who frankly couldn't understand why we were there. (Side note: volunteer surgeons have gone to Nepal to help train local surgeons in modern techniques but these skills get abused as surgeons find any excuse to take gallbladders out of patients who are simply constipated.)
Our greatest beef with this company was that we thought the hefty sums we paid went towards a decent needs-assessment. We were given the impression that they sent trained volunteers to areas that have expressed a need for help. And we were told we would have translation on the field with the possibility of outreach programs, none of which actually happened.
Total fraud. We gave the organizers very thorough feedback and they assured us they were going to pull the PRO portion of the Nepal wing of Projects Abroad. Just checked today and it's definitely not the case.
[End of comments]
The Chainsaw project
1.16 Problems regarding the legality of illegal timber trafficking In order for any law enforcement officer to undertake investigations they must first be satisfied a crime has occurred. When considering crimes of violence, and other crimes against the person, or drug or weapon trafficking, the answer as to whether a crime has occurred would appear to be obvious. The same cannot be said when considering international trade in primary products; fish, animals, and plants, including illegal timber.
The legality of unlawfully logged timber at any given time in its journey from the forests to the end user will be largely determined by time and space. The question; what is the national law that relates to the product, can often depend on where it currently geographically is, and at what time it is there?
The reasons for this and the difficulty faced by law enforcement agencies in investigating this crime type are:
- Timber is not an illegal product per se. Its possession, trade, or transportation may not constitute a crime as such, unlike drugs or child pornography. At border controls or customs check points, the law enforcement authorities must be able to prove the timber’s illegality to take any further action. It can, in many cases, become difficult or impossible to state whether the origin of the timber is legal or illegal. The illegality is all the more difficult to assess when the timber has been processed into finished manufactured products, which is often the form in which illegal timbe arrives at the country of importation.
- In itself, illegal logging constitutes a local crime that falls under national legislations. It is then a crime which is very difficult to prosecute “up to destination” since it does not imply the infringement of the laws or regulations of the countries that import and consume the timber or the countries in which the timber is in transit.
Illegal logging becomes relevant to international law enforcement only once the timber has left, or is in the process of leaving, the country in which it was cut.
Consequently, illegal logging must not become dissociated from the problem of illegal timber trafficking which is not as difficult to prove and prosecute.
- Timber traders can be subject to sanctions or prosecution for illegal timbe trafficking only on the condition that the timber traded is a species protected unde national laws or under CITES. This trade is regulated with a system of certificates and needs to fulfil specific conditions to be declared legal. It is often only in countries where the mechanisms of control and certification are codified in national legislations, such as in the EU, that the possibility of prosecuting the timber traders exists.
- The legality or illegality of the timber depends on the legislation of the country where the goods are located, not on the legality or illegality of the upstream process.
A piece of wood can originate from illegally logged timber and yet be sold with complete legality in another country. Therefore, the international characteristics of illegal logging raises two questions: Determining the country where the prosecution should take place, and determining the legislation under which the crime falls. In general, criminals are prosecuted in the country where the crime was committed and the legislation of that country is applied.
VicForests are spending a lot of time in court and they still owe outstanding court costs to Environment East Gippsland. The environmental Davids who have been fighting these outstanding battles on our behalf are in need of our financial and political support.
The case began two weeks ago and will be summed up early next week in front of Justice Osborne (who also heard our case). So far it seems to have gone fairly well, with expert witnesses able to present flawless arguments for the protection of the Leadbeaters Possum habitat in the Central Highland’s. Professor David Lindenmayer and Dr Judith Ajani presented the case for the forests and the insane economics of logging. VicForests seemed to have a huge gaggle of barristers and lawyers to argue that if they can’t log the three coupes in contention, then they wouldn’t be able to log 167 other stands of the endangered Leadbeaters habitat. Logging might then be unviable in the Central Highlands.
The Brown Mountain ruling was cited throughout and clearly laid the path for much of this case.
My Environment has taken this very bold legal step, despite not having had much money to pay the bills to begin with, and like our case, have seen it balloon out to two weeks rather than one. They now desperately need some help to cover their legal costs.
DSE suing its old friend, VicForests!
VicForests are again facing the court again on 30th March at Orbost. This one sees the DSE (yes!) prosecute VicForests for illegally logging protected rainforest at Murrungowar just east of Orbost.
EEG sues VicForests again on the 10th April
On the 10th April, Environment East Gippsland is back in the Supreme Court suing VicForests for planning to destroy sites of Rainforest with National Significance. We’ll let you know more details of the trial as we get closer to the date.
VicForests owes EEG outstanding court costs
This month we go into mediation with VicForests in order to retrieve the legal costs back that the court ordered VicForests pay us after the Brown Mountain case almost 18 months ago! If it doesn’t work, we’ll be back in court in March to force the issue.
If you would like to read full details of the Sylvia Creek case, full transcripts will be placed on the My Environment website as they become available. You can read the transcripts of the first three days, in which the case for the plaintiff and VicForests' defence were outlined here.
VicForests argued on Tues – day 2, that the economic case for continuing the logging of endangered species’ habitat outweighs the precautionary principle. In effect, they are saying, jobs are more important than species and ecosystems. The anticipated costs of the case have ballooned due to the necessity to respond to VicForests’ economics argument and other unexpected costs including increased transcript costs because VicForests have requested real time electronic recording of witnesses. Of course, they have access to government funding.
New environmental case could save 162 coupes
On Monday, 6th February, one of the most significant court case ever undertaken on the conservation of Victoria’s threatened fauna commenced in the Supreme Court. The case is testing whether the logging operations of VicForests are in compliance with state laws, focusing on three coupes in Toolangi State Forest, around 80 kms. north-east of Melbourne.
However, VicForests argued on Tues – day 2, that the economic case for continuing the logging of endangered species’ habitat outweighs the precautionary principle. In effect, they are saying, jobs are more important than species and ecosystems.
VicForests have stated that if they can't log these three coupes, then they can't log 162 coupes in the Central Highlands Ash forests - And thousands of jobs will be lost, 150 fire fighters gone and millions of dollars lost to the state. They have threatened that if the precautionary principle is to be applied that it will shut down the industry.
These forests and their animals survived Black Saturday
After Black Saturday and decades of industrial logging, the unburned remnant Ash forests now contain what is left of Melbourne’s water supply and the last viable population of the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum (along with a host of other threatened flora and fauna). MyEnvironment has engaged two expert witnesses of unimpeachable authority, Dr Judith Ajani on the economics and Professor David Lindenmayer on the ecological values of our forests.
VicForests balloon court costs with gov funding - environmentalists seek equity
The anticipated costs of the case have ballooned due to the necessity to respond to VicForests’ economics argument and other unexpected costs including increased transcript costs because VicForests have requested real time electronic recording of witnesses. Of course, they have access to government funding.
The Federal Minister for the Environment Tony Burke is engaged (on some level). MyEnvironment Inc. has requested federal assistance as the case fits squarely in its portfolio of responsibility.
The following information may help you understand the case and why it is so significant:
Leadbeater’s Possums are Victoria's faunal emblem and considered 'canary in the coal mine' species for biodiversity in Victoria’s forest water catchments. If they are tipped into extinction, it means other forest species are also tipping. This case seeks to prevent this.
The forest age class that supports hollow dependant wildlife, is the same forest that provides, and releases, massive amounts of clean drinking and irrigation water for urban and rural users. Replacing this forest with young, rapidly growing plantations would greatly reduce water production and provide no habitat for hollow-dependent species.
Protecting Melbourne's water catchment
Melbourne’s water was the subject of a 2003 World Bank and WWF report advising against further logging yet logging in water catchments continues. The government’s own studies recommended ending catchment logging by 2009 to improve water supply to Melbourne’s growing population.
Science has recognised that the world’s greatest trees are being lost to disease, climate and drought. In Victoria, we will not have any old growth Ash forests left by 2065 due to industrial logging and fires (Victorian images here). Only around 1% of the old-growth Mountain Ash forest remains in these mountains today.
VicForests already demonstrated lack of respect for law
FSC certification was removed from products coming from these forests because VicForests failed to demonstrate compliance with the principles of biodiversity management.
VicForests industry relies on funding from your taxes
The primary recipient of wood from the Central Highlands is Japanese multi-national paper producer Nippon Paper Ltd. According to the 2010 URS Treasury report, Nippon does not pay full costs of production so tax-payers are subsidising the wood stream.
Victoria has legislated to guarantee wood to Nippon so the state government, in a bid to access new resources, are now planning to log parks, water catchments and special protection zones to fulfill the contract.
Breech of Federal laws and United Nations agreements
The message being sent to other countries is that it's acceptable to log reserves. In effect, Victoria is in breach of both Federal laws and United Nations agreements.
The end of native forest logging in Victoria would also hasten the collapse of Gunns’ Tasmanian Pulp mill. The Heyfield Mill sale by Gunns will supply funds to support the Pulp Mill proposal. If Victorian Ash forests cannot be logged, Heyfield will not be commercial and Gunns will be forced to liquidate it. (we have heard that the Mill sale has fallen through and Gunns may have suspended trading because of this)
Economics is a subset of Environment, not the other way round
Vicforests argue that they should be allowed to log habitat to keep the industry alive while Scott Gentle ex-CEO Victorian Forestry Contractors Association says the industry is a basket case. The haulers say "it could be better run by a kindergarten" and contractors like Mick McKinnell say that the transition to plantations is inevitable. 7.30 ABC Report
Baylieu Government proposes increased support for archaic and destructive industry
Whilst resource mapping shows that little is left outside special protection zones and buffer strips containing endangered species, the Baillieu/Ryan government is proposing 20 year contracts to guarantee industry stability and underwrite VicForests when commitments can no longer be met. These contracts will need to be paid out when the resource is exhausted so it's a quick return for opportunistic investors.
In contravention of our own national competition economics policies
This is total mismanagement in contravention of national competition policy under which a government business enterprise must not be given any commercial advantage. A story from The Age on the state of the industry can be seen at the link.
David and Goliath: VicForests have access to millions of taxpayer dollars and a team of 7 lawyers in court - we have 3.
We are just a small group of volunteers with a first-hand understanding of the issues, dedication and determination to save what remains after the Black Saturday bushfires. Over the last decade we have witnessed massive destruction of critical ecosystems and we need to tell our story.
A chance to end native forest logging in Victoria!
VicForests are saying that if the judge awards in our favour, this case will end native forest logging in Victoria. Please push this out to your friends and members. We have to raise three times more than we have. Donate here Please. The flow on effect of this case is already being measured in Gunns' business and will affect East Gippsland's forest too.
A very serious threat has emerged since Valentine's Day! And Fed Parliament is voting on the motion today! If Oakeshott's proposal gets up, the forest furnaces poised for building in several states would become a driving force for decades more destruction of Australian forests, woodlands and wildlife. It would be the same type of unstoppable destruction that the export woodchip industry has caused since the 1970s. There will be no let up in demand for electricity once this insanity is allowed.
Independent, Rob Oakeshott is planning to revisit his agreement last year to prevent the burning of native forests ('waste' or not) to be classed as 'renewable energy' and so making it eligible for financial help via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
Tony Windsor, independent MP, has indicated that he has not yet taken a position on Oakeshott's forest furnace motion. Please ask he carefully considers his position, as his one vote could cause an avalanche of forest destruction for years to come.
These below are worth contacting with a polite short email - especially if you happen to be in their electorate, or maybe pass this on if you know friends who are.
The Carbon Package Agreement went through last year thanks to the Greens insistence - and it has been a major spanner in the plans of the logging industry to build forest furnaces for electricity (to take over where the export woodchip markets are failing). Without RECs they are less financially viable.
If Oakeshott's proposal gets up, the forest furnaces poised for building in several states would become a driving force for decades more destruction of Australian forests, woodlands and wildlife. It would be the same type of unstoppable destruction that the export woodchip industry has caused since the 1970s. There will be no let up in demand for electricity once this insanity is allowed.
Environment East Gippsland
Locked Bag 3
ph (03) 5154 0145
We were successful today! In fact even more so than we expected. The injunction phase was skipped and we’re going straight to trial now. It’ll be heard in April rather than Sept/Oct. as we were planning. This has to be good for us and the forests. This article has been retitled from "Injunction to stop logging of Cobb Hill rainforest Site." The teaser then was, "If this application is successful, it will be the third time VicForests will face the courts to be sued by a community group for what is believed to be illegal logging of protected areas of public forest."
We were successful today! In fact even more so that we expected. The injunction phase was skipped and we’re going straight to trial now. It’ll be heard in April rather than Sept/Oct. as we were planning. This has to be good for us and the forests.
I imagine VicForests will not be very happy chappies. They opposed this speedy trial as proposed by His Honour Justice Jack Forrest. And they lost. The next round will be very interesting.
We’ll let you know when we have exact dates.
By the way – we still need dollars for this. If you can help – here’s an easy safe method to help us ... http://www.givenow.com.au/environmenteastgippsland
PS VicForests has given an undertaking not to log this area until the trial is heard.
Environment East Gippsland
Locked Bag 3
ORBOST Vic 3888
(03) 5154 0145
EAST GIPPSLAND - OUR BREATHING SPACE
Earlier post regarding an application for an injunction
When: 12 noon, Monday 30th January.
Where: Court 10, Melbourne Supreme Court.
Other: If this application is successful, it will be the third time VicForests will face the courts to be sued by a community group for what is believed to be illegal logging of protected areas of public forest.
VicForests gave an undertaking not to log this site until the application for an injunction could be heard. His Honour Justice Forrest is hearing our interlocutory injunction application on Monday. Justice Jack Forrest granted the interlocutory injunction in the Brown Mountain case in 2009.
For comment or updates after the application is heard: Liz Ingham 0409 333 595
Environment East Gippsland
Locked Bag 3
ORBOST Vic 3888
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.
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!
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.
Environment East Gippsland
VicForests up before the Supreme Court - again - for alleged illegal logging, thanks to the amazing avatars of Environment East Gippsland. Dig into your pockets, folks! EEG does more for you than your taxes!
Wednesday 14th December 2011
VicForests is again being sued in the Supreme Court over what an environment group believes is illegal logging of a very significant protected rainforest area. Environment East Gippsland, which successfully sued VicForests last year, is lodging papers for an urgent injunction this morning in the Melbourne Supreme Court to stop the logging.
“This is the third case of what we believe is illegal logging that VicForests will have to answer for”, said Jill Redwood, coordinator of the group. “The public thinks this type of lawless destruction of protected primary forest and rainforest only occurs overseas”.
“VicForests is still refusing to pay our legal costs of around a million dollars from last year, despite this being a clear court order. If they think this is preventing us taking further legal action, it’s not working. The public is so outraged about their criminal destruction, they have already donated enough for us to get this next legal action rolling.”
“In a proper democracy it should not be up to the public to enforce the law over an uncontrollable government entity. We should not be forced to ask the courts to ensure VicForests abides by the law. We are a developed country. We give millions to other countries to help them stop illegal logging of their rainforests. But in Victoria we are seeing the same happen with full support of the Baillieu government. Exploiting industries seem to be writing the government’s laws and policies now”.
This stand of forest was blockaded for 5 days last week and was broken up by police on Monday.
“It doesn’t take long for a determined crew of logging contractors to cut down the tall trees and smash down a forest of tree ferns”, said Jill Redwood “We hope this injunction will be successful”.
For comment - Jill Redwood: 51540145, Liz Ingham (in court for EEG): 0409 333 595
On Monday VicForests’ logging contractors were INSIDE a protected National Site of Significance for Rainforest. A small group of protesters had been holding up logging since last Thursday (8th Dec). The blockade was broken up Monday. This government run logging monopoly called VicForests is again forcing ordinary people to take legal action to stop this criminal activity of rainforest logging in our own state forests!
URGENT !!! Call for help!
VicForests’ logging contractors are currently INSIDE a protected National Site of Significance for Rainforest. A small group of protesters have been holding up logging since last Thursday. The blockade was broken up today. We haven’t heard back from any of the protesters yet. This could be the start of another court injunction!
The story in brief:
· On the 23rd Nov, Environment East Gippsland sent a letter to the DSE alerting it to the planned logging of a protected National Rainforest Site of Significance (the stand of forest had been tagged out in readiness for logging). No reply was received.
· During the week of the 7th December, VicForests contractors pushed a logging road and log landing into the site which adjoins the Errinundra National Park.
· On the evening of 7th December, protesters cabled a tree sit to 4 bulldozers, effectively halting all logging at the site.
· On Thursday 8th, our lawyers sent a letter to VicForests warning them they were inside a protected area and to respond by the end of the day as to whether they would be removing the logging machinery. There was no response.
· Our lawyers then sent a second letter on Friday 9th Dec, warning them that should logging proceed, they would seek instruction from Environment East Gippsland regarding an urgent injunction to stop the damage to this protected area of forest. There was again, no response.
· Monday 12th December, police and state forest and logging agencies cleared the area of protesters and two tree sits. There was one arrest as a result of the police using sniffer dogs!
· Monday – we also sent an urgent letter off to the Snr Sgt at Orbost Police Station detailing the illegal nature of the logging, complete with maps and sections of the relevant Acts and Code - see below (hope the images transfer OK). We asked that they refrain from arresting those trying to uphold the law. And if there are people proceeding to damage the protected site, that they enforce the laws and notify the logging contractors and VicForests of the illegality of logging and if necessary arrest them. This request is at least on the record.
We are now being forced to apply to the Supreme Court for an urgent injunction.
Environment East Gippsland has set a precedent for this by successfully suing VicForests last year over plans to log threatened species habitat. We have already established standing, and other precedents. BUT ... despite the Supreme Court ordering VicForests to pay 90% of our legal costs (in August 2010), VF is still refusing. This means another trip back to the court to force them to pay up! So despite having the standing and ability to take court action against VicForests again, we are unable to due to lack of funds.
Our lawyers will do their best to keep costs down but even just filing court papers can cost maybe $3,000. We are intending to get this done by Wed morning thanks to a super human effort of our lawyers.
We are asking a range of people and supporters to help get the ball rolling and force VicForests to adhere to the law that protects Rainforest Sites Of Significance. But most are in the same boat as us.
Can you please help at all – in any way? Donations or people willing to come to the site and help until an injunction can be secured.
Environment East Gippsland has tax deductible status so can issue tax receipts for donations. We imagine the urgent filing of papers to the court could take about $3,000. Once kick-started, the court case itself could put costs up to $10,000. Much cheaper this time, but still money we don’t currently have.
Our bank details can be sent upon request if you’d like to donate via EFT, or just go to www.eastgippsland.net.au and donate via the Paypal button.
We would appreciate any help – financially or just in spreading this through your networks.
Below are the legal details of what is going on.
(03) 5154 0145
It has been more than two years since Environment East Gippsland began legal action to sue the government’s logging monopoly, VicForests. In August 2009 we applied for an injunction for an immediate stop to logging at Brown Mountain. A year later, on 11 August 2010, the ruling was handed down. We had won our case! This is a report from Environment East Gippsland.
Not only did Environment East Gippsland win the case for Brown Mountain, but we successfully set three major precedents for other community groups:
1. it was the first time any environment group had been granted standing to take the government (or one of its agencies) to court,
2. we were granted an injunction against logging for the first time in Victoria and possibly Australia, and
3. We did not have to provide ‘security’ a type of ‘bond’ incase we lost (VicForests put in what turned out to be a fairly bodgie claim that we should put up $60,000).
The case was set down to be heard in the Sale Court over two weeks, but it stretched out to four weeks through March 2010. Although we were successful, and although the ruling should alter the way VicForests and the government looks after public forests, we are still seeing them disregard the same laws and regulations over which they were sued. Their reasoning? The ruling technically only applied to Brown Mountain. So if we want to show that the law applies across the state, it might take another court case! They are gambling that we won’t resort to this. But to ensure that any further plans to challenge them are stymied, VicForests is refusing to pay our court costs as ordered. EEG and our lawyers have sent reasonable requests for the money owed. After months of letters, VicForests offered us HALF of our costs! This insult means that the case will now be handed over to official auditors to draw up the bill of costs and if not paid, it heads back to the court. More costs and more time wasting.
Left in limbo
Brown Mountain’s 600 year old trees are still firmly in the ground but remain like a ‘hole in a donut’, surrounded by reserved forest and National Park. Despite its values having been well and truly proven in court, it is still mapped as a logging zone and under the control of VicForests. The surveys ordered by the court have not been carried out. We suspect they see this area as symbolic of the battle between ‘government and greenies’. We saw the length and cost the DSE went to in order to gut the heart from Goolengook’s forests. Let’s hope they are simply cooling their heels rather than plotting its annihilation. Being legally trounced by EEG must have hurt. We know that the 1995 Forest Management Plan is considered redundant and in need of rewriting, and we know there are plans of weakening the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act; both documents helped our court win.
Pre (or Pro)-logging surveys
One outcome of the court case is that VicForests have set up very poorly funded Mickey Mouse pre-logging surveys in some forests. Consultants are hired that employ others to carry out wildlife surveys for some species. The consultants are given minimal time and resources, making the results totally invalid. We are currently applying under Freedom of Information to obtain details of these survey methods and results.
VicForests hired Chela Powell, a young forester with a PhD on the study of beetles in blue gum plantations. They call her their ‘conservation biologist’. She devised some survey methods that seem to us to explain how to look for certain animals in the wrong forests and then frighten them away with the wrong methods. VicForests also decides which forests might be deemed worthy of a survey. It is they who decide if a stand of forest is old growth, and it is they who give themselves the option of including forests that might be considered to be High Conservation Value (HCV). We have reason to suspect that they are doing pre-logging surveys in about half of the old growth they should, and almost no HCV, as this one is optional. There are some low quality forests surveyed that will most likely result in no finds. We also know they have logged old growth forest since the court ruling and are also clearfelling Potoroo habitat where their own contracted survey teams discovered them!
What does this all mean on the ground?
The legal finding for Brown Mountain should mean that logging agencies and land managers have to be cautious in regards to the possible existence of threatened species where they plan to destroy or alter their habitat. This can be extrapolated to every other forest, meaning cautionary management must be shown (as in the Precautionary Principle, much debated to in court) when planning to destroy or modify likely habitats of threatened species. This could include areas in which the DSE plans to carry out roading or prescribed burns, as well as clearfell logging. DSE is stating this isn’t the case, but provides no explanation. Surveys should happen across all forests – regardless of their age or conservation value. But it’s not.
VicForests have a few options:
· Honour this ruling and pay for decent, credible surveys in every planned logging coupe. Don’t log where rare species exist.
· Honour this ruling but do the cheapest possible ineffective surveys that cover minimal forest areas.
· Accept that the logging industry and its shrinking markets are in terminal decline and wind down operations to suit.
· Influence the revision of the Forest Management Plan to remove prescriptions to protect rare wildlife.
· Push to have the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act watered down to make current mandatory actions ambiguous or ‘flexible’.
Greg Barber, MP for the Greens, asked a question of the then ALP Environment Minister the day after the September judgement. Minister Jennings said he would honour the decision. The Shadow Minister for the environment, Liberal member Mary Wooldridge, also promised to honour the court ruling. Now that a Liberal-National party is in Government, we see a clear attempt to take no action while planning changes of environmental legislation.
The court ruling
It was August11 and everyone stood as Justice Robert Osborne entered and took his seat. Throughout the March case, he always seemed to have a quizzical, bemused look on his face as he bowed to us on entering and leaving. Again he bowed and so did we. We had been anxiously waiting months for this moment. He began to read his findings. The court room booked for the judgement had to be changed to accommodate the one or two hundred supporters. When Liz and I walked into the upstairs gallery there was a sea of friendly faces and standing room only. In one corner was a very small huddle of grey suits representing VicForests.
Our hearts sank to the floor as he acknowledged some points which VicForests had made, and our points on the crayfish and kite that weren’t strong. But then he uttered the word “Nevertheless ...” and our hearts jumped back into place as we anticipated his next words. Basically he told VicForests that they can’t log the old growth forests of Brown Mountain until VicForests had:
1) put in place protection zones for the Potoroo in three of the four planned logging coupes,
2) had qualified people survey in the correct season for Giant Burrowing and Large Brown Tree Frogs as well as the Spot-tailed Quoll, in all four coupes,
3) created a 100 ha zone to protect the gliders of coupe 15 and,
4) reviewed the protection measures offered to Powerful and Sooty Owls in East Gippsland.
But he didn’t go far enough to say they must do this to the satisfaction of the court, only to the satisfaction of the Director of Biodiversity Policy and Programs within DSE. That was the weak point.
He also ordered that we:
· give DSE copies of all photographic evidence we have of the presence of the Long-footed Potoroo in the area (our lawyers told us not to provide this once the case had started); and
· show DSE the precise location of where one of the Potoroo images was captured as used in our evidence by one of the surveyors.
Our lawyers argued that a ‘compliance in an unsupervised fashion’ and a ‘self-executing injunction is not appropriate’ given VicForests’ past record of strong resistance to compliance and an ‘ineffective regulator’ (DSE). They said that the history of this matter showed that there was no transparency or honest dialogue from DSE/VicForests towards EEG.
However the judge claimed it shouldn’t need to go back to court for tick-off when there’s already a DSE statutory framework in place to resolve habitat protection (which we just proved wasn’t working). As DSE wasn’t part of the dispute, he considered them as apart from it. But we showed they were as good as compliant with VicForests’ refusal to properly protect the wildlife. Still, if given the legally correct reserves, these logging coupes should all receive protection, even if vulnerable to being moved and swapped as Special Protection Zones.
To ensure proper transparency, Justice Osborn ruled that VicForests should give EEG:
· relatively detailed maps of the protection zones for the Potoroos and owls within 14 days of their creation.
· details of any survey results of the Giant Burrowing Frog, Large Brown Tree Frog and Spot-tailed Quoll.
· 28 days notice in writing of plans to log any of the four coupes.
We have received nothing to date.
 Editor: "Standing" is the legal right to initiate a law suit. Yes, if you thought that anyone could initiate (via a lawyer) or as themselves, a complaint of a failure to abide by regulations or laws in an Act, think again. Usually this right is very much reserved, with the effect of protecting vested interests and specialists. Not only did EEG set a precedent in getting standing, but I think they set a precedent in using the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1986 in court! I believe that no action had previously ever been made using its powers!
URGENT: Please lend your support by attending at Supreme Court to Victorian Government prosecution of Brown Mountain protesters. Tomorrow, Wednesday at 10:00am, (10 November 2010) the Department of Sustainability and Environment will proceed with its prosecution of the individuals charged with protesting at Brown Mountain. meet outside the Magistrates’ Court at 9:15am, corner of Williams and Lonsdale Street Melbourne. I will be there to meet you and direct you to the relevant Court room. This is a political cause of deepest importance. The Victorian Government and the ALP's involvement in forest crimes goes back years. The forest protesters are our bravest democratic and environmental activists. We must support them for all that they do for the rest of us.
Wednesday 10 November - stand up for justice
Today, Wednesday at 10:00am, (10 November 2010) the Department of Sustainability and Environment will proceed with its prosecution of the individuals charged with protesting at Brown Mountain.
Although Bleyer Lawyers, acting for the individuals, invited DSE to withdraw the charges given the Supreme Court of Victoria restrained VicForests from logging at Brown Mountain, the Department is pressing on with the prosecutions of those charged before the outcome of the Supreme Court case.
We would be grateful if you could lend your support to the individuals who have been arrested for protecting Brown Mountain and attend Court tomorrow.
If you are able to attend, please meet outside the Magistrates’ Court at 9:15am, corner of Williams and Lonsdale Street Melbourne. I will be there to meet you and direct you to the relevant Court room.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries.
Sophie Bird - Lawyers for Forests - M 0414 985 728
ALSO – LEGAL UPDATE IN FITZROY ON THURSDAY @ 7pm
A reminder that the launch of the legal guide for forest activist is being held this Thursday, 11 November 2010 at the Marquis of Lorne, Corner Kerr and George Street, Fitzroy. Please disseminate the invitation to your networks. At this stage we plan to have an update on the Tas and Vic negotiation, a chat about upcoming campaign events and a legal update.
We hope to see you there (see attachment).
Sophie Bird - Lawyers for Forests
AND LASTLY a fund raiser this Saturday 13th Nov at Rye Beach.
FOREST FUNDRAISER FOR ENVIRONMENT EAST GIPSLAND AND SAVE THE PINES
OUR WILDLIFE IS CRYING OUT FOR YOUR HELP
COME AND SUPPORT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HAVE DEDICATED THEIR LIVES TO THE PROTECTION OF OUR STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL BUSH LIKE BROWN MOUNTAIN AND WESTERFIELDS AT:
ST ANDREWS REC CLUB HALL
99 BASS MEADOWS BLVD
ST ANDREWS BEACH (RYE BACK BEACH)
3 CLASSIC LOCAL BANDS :
· KING BAT AND
ON SATURDAY 13 TH OF NOVEMBER 2010
7PM- 12PM BYO
COME AND CELEBRATE ENVIRONMENT EAST GIPSLAND’S COURT CASE WIN AND FIND OUT WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTION. HEAR ABOUT THE BATTLE TO SAVE THE NORTHERN PENINSULA BUSHLAND.
COME AND ENJOY A GREAT NIGHT AT THE REC CLUB WITH OTHER PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT OUR MAGNIFICENT ECOSYSTEMS.
FOR MORE INFO CALL MARK ON 59822046 (or see attachment)
Environment East Gippsland Inc
(6800 Bonang Rd Goongerah)
Locked Bag 3
ORBOST Vic 3888
Ph (03) 5154 0145
Article by Jill Redwood, in response to the historic agreement which has reportedly been reached to save Tasmania's wild forests. The intention is to move loggers from the old forests into the plantation industry. The Age reported that "Parties to the talks, who all strenuously rejected the involvement of politicians in the negotiations, refused to comment before today's announcement." International markets for woodchips have been down for some time. Victorians might wonder, is the Tasmanian Green movement different from - and more really green - than the one identified with the Victorian "Green Brand" party? (See discussion below "Are the Greens a real alternative?".) Consider also that Environmentalist movements exist outside political parties and that we do not need political parties to make a difference if those parties do not serve us well. The following article is sourced from Jill Redwood. This 'teaser' is from candobetter.org Photos by Sheila Newman
Dot points on Tuesday 19th October 2010 Tasmania agreement announcement and implications for Victoria and beyond
(thanks to Luke for some of these figures).
· Gunns has seen the light and is moving into plantations only.
· Very courageous move by industry to get together with green groups and come to an agreement that helps everyone.
· Victorian industry can also follow suit – govt should help these negotiations along.
· Needed now more than ever – native forests logging is on down-hill run as:
o plantation products dominate the timber market,
o high Aussie dollar (and Asia still recovering from GFC) means export woodchip industry in steep decline,
o resource running out – forcing govt to move loggers into highly contentious areas = provoking conflict.
o Gunns – large company, has seen the future is not in native forests.
· Industry also agreed not to use native forest wood “waste” to burn for electricity – a major win.
Plantation option in Victoria is real.
· Plantations can meet 98% of our timber and woodchip/paper markets right now – meaning there is no excuse to continue clearfelling and industrial scale logging in native forests.
· Many new building products like compressed wood board and engineered lumber (flooring/craft wood/paneling/LVL etc) don’t require large diameter trees. General framing timber (scantling) is easily supplied by pine plantations. The small amount of feature grade hardwood timber that can’t yet be supplied by plantations (such as for high grade hardwood flooring and high quality panelling) can be provided by alternate and engineered wood products, recycled hardwood or carefully selected trees from native forests (but not clearfell logging).
· The logging industry is in terminal decline in East Gippsland with employment being less than 1% of the region’s total workforce. The rest of Eastern Victoria is similar – and even Maryvale paper mill is 80% plantation based. Not difficult to get them out of Central Highland’s forests.
To ensure secure employment, the industry needs to:
1. Retool their mills to process plantation wood (from Tumut NSW, Sth Gippy or NE plantations).
2. Receive govt assistance to relocate workers and families to the plantation areas of Western Vic. where the plantation companies are actually importing workers from overseas to fill the employment gaps in logging.
3. Take exit packages and be assisted into other areas of employment.
In Victoria we take 1.9 million tones of native forest wood out every year. Of that, 1.5 million tones is pulplogs – all of which is 100% substitutable with plantation wood.
Of the other 400,000 tonnes that are sawlog trees, the are used for pallets, roof battens, fence palings, crossbars on power poles, subfloor bearers - all are easily substitutable by plantation wood and other products.
The 1-2% used for high quality appearance grade furniture, paneling etc could still be taken from native forests if very carefully selected and used. Clearfelling thousands ha is now unnecessary (never was needed until woodchipping dominated).
1986 – NIEIR reported on the projected impacts on the new parks in East Gippy (LCC recommendations). They calculated that unless govt altered their policies there was no future for the industry. They recommended reduction in the take of logs from around 360,000m3 a year of sawlogs (not counting woodchip logs) to 70,000 m3 to ensure sustainability. But government and industry continued cutting at 280,000 through all 1990s and 110,000m3 average in the 2000s).
(In 2002-03 - 191,000m3 sawlogs, in 2003-04 - 135,000m3, 2004-05 – 122,000m3, 2005-06 - 106,000m3, 2006-07 - 91,000m3, 2007-08 - 99,000m3 sawlogs. Plus about 350,000m3 of pulplogs as well. Clearly overcutting – ‘cut-out and get-out’ mentality has ruled the industry and govt)
85% of trees taken from native forests ends up as woodchips. Criminal.
Small 2% of high grade timber can be taken from selectively logged trees off public land while hardwood plantations are established (20-25 years). Some hardwood plantations for pulp could already be used for this if managed for sawlogs and milled in a particular way.
Western Vic plantations is where it’s mostly at – ABARE figures show that up until 2007-08 – only getting 0.5million tonnes m3 of plantation hardwood chips – but this year these plantations are supplying 4 million tonnes! The wall of wood has hit us from plantings in the 80s and 90s.
Western Vic plantations companies (Gunns, Australian Blue Gum Plantations and ITC) are importing jobs from OS to log the plantations! Plenty of scope for helping relocate Eastern Vic logging workers into secure jobs there.
Environment East Gippsland Inc
(6800 Bonang Rd Goongerah)
Locked Bag 3
ORBOST Vic 3888
Ph (03) 5154 0145
Congratulations Jill Redwood, leader of Environment East Gippsland! In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court has found that the government has a responsibility to look for and protect endangered wildlife before logging in the contentious Brown Mountain forests of East Gippsland. “This judgment has implications for all native forests that are set to be destroyed by logging,” said EEG spokesperson Jill Redwood. “If we hadn’t sued VicForests, Brown Mountain would have been illegally logged by now. And Brown Mountain is just one area. The government is logging publicly owned forests every day without endangered species surveys.”
EEG Website for more updates
To find out more about the history of this battle, which has demanded so much courage and committment from people like Jill Redwood and those who fight with her, see the section: Brown Mountain in Candobetter
Landmark decision enforces law to defend animals and trees
In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court has found that the government has a responsibility to look for and protect endangered wildlife before logging in the contentious Brown Mountain forests of East Gippsland.
“This judgment has implications for all native forests that are set to be destroyed by logging,” said EEG spokesperson Jill Redwood.
Decision shows the battle was just and necessary
“If we hadn’t sued VicForests, Brown Mountain would have been illegally logged by now. And Brown Mountain is just one area. The government is logging publicly owned forests every day without endangered species surveys.”
“We are calling on the government to respect the judgment by stopping logging in native forests that may contain rare wildlife, until the full implications of this judgment are examined.”
“VicForests, the Government-owned logging monopoly, has a legal responsibility to protect endangered wildlife. They can’t just go in and log blindfolded.”
“Victorians have always known native forest logging is immoral, uneconomic, unaccountable, unsustainable and unpopular. Today we’ve proved that where endangered species are present, or likely to be present, it’s potentially illegal as well”.
Will the Victorian Government try to defy the courts as well as the law now?
“This extraordinary court case isn’t just about protecting Brown Mountain’s rich and ancient ark of rare wildlife; it’s about forcing the government to abide by its laws as anyone else would”, said Ms Redwood.
“This represents a win for the state’s rare forest dependent wildlife. It’s also a win for all Australians who are concerned about the environment.”
Next danger may be Government attempt to change laws to suit itself
Environment groups are now concerned that the government may attempt to alter the laws to allow the destruction of endangered species habitat, as happened in Tasmania in 2008.
“The government must now honour the law, not alter it”, said Ms Redwood.
Forest supporters will gather at Victorian parliament tomorrow at 1pm, to ask the Environment Minister, Shadow Environment Minister and Greens for their response to the judgment.
Jill Redwood – EEG Convenor
Liz Ingham – EEG Secretary -
Vanessa Bleyer – solicitor for EEG –
Environment East Gippsland's
Inaugural Melbourne Meeting.
6pm Wednesday 12th of May.
2nd Floor, Kindness House,
288 Brunswick St, FITZROY.
Please RSVP to [email protected]
Environment East Gippsland is to hold its inaugural Melbourne meeting next week. 6pm Wednesday 12th of May, 2nd Floor, Kindness House, 288 Brunswick St, between Victoria St and Johnston St. We’ve been planning this since the Easter Ecology Camp so come join in with your fellow tree huggers.
Facilitator/s, minute taker appointed
Introductions & Updates.
Supreme Court Case - Judgement Day.
Promoting the forests solution in the climate and water debates.
Media stories for Melbourne.
Local papers or MX style stories.
Stories that connect Melbourne communities and forests
Call for a 40% tax on logging companies profits as well?
Letter writing -
Your local pollies
State and Federal Ministers
Your power company – would they sell incinerated owls with their electricity?
Young’ns for Old Growth
DVD production and/or YouTube clip – forests and climate etc
RAW Files – Photoshop work.
Fundraising ideas –
Card sales – Christmas retailers
Art show and auction
Brown Mt Wine - see below
community benefit card
Stalls and Events
eBay auctions or garage sale
Skills and resources list
Light nibblies supplied but feel free to bring a dip or a couple of tomatoes.
Please RSVP to [email protected]
New potoroos detected!
New Potoroos detected - in bunch of planned logging coupes – in fact a fairly outrageous cluster of 6 in an area enviro groups were negotiating for protection in the upper Yalmy River catchment last year.
Amazing new footage via remote camera
There are more clips on you-tube, but this clip number one is the best. The other three show it gathering the dry fern fronds and grass and tucking it under its belly into its curled tail - quite amazing footage captured by remote cameras and never before seen in the wild. It’s new behaviour that was previously unknown. Volunteer surveyor, Andy, has written a report which is now with the relevant authorities and Ministers. Response has been to ask for the entire footage from the camera again (as in pre-court case shenanigans) to be able to verify that the footage hasn’t been doctored or something (?!).
Something like 14 separate Potoroo images were taken over a 3-4 week period in this area of forest! They now only score a 50 ha protection zone, but with the two sites and a Potoroo skull found, DSE/VicForests should protect the entire block of forest from logging.
VicForests whole of landscape obliteration plans for Victoria's forests
These people are supposed to be working for us!
And while speaking of ‘never before seen’ phenomena – VicForests logging plans have been amended to include 24 coupes in the Big River and St Patricks River junction just to the sth west of Mt Ellery and Errinundra Nat park (west of Goolengook). These coupes are in a mass block shoulder to shoulder, again in an area mapped for protection by enviro groups while negotiating old growth and High Conservation Value (HCV) forests for protection. This is whole of landscape obliteration and appears to be deliberate targeting – or a major mapping error! It’s also in a Potoroo and Spot-tailed Quoll Special Management Zone! Closing date for submissions and comments were yesterday.
Forests Forever Ecology Camp
Forests Forever Ecology camp – a fantastic event again over Easter. Rainforests, old growth, (sadly, too much of it logged) and of course Brown Mountain all featured. If people want to visit Brown Mt on their own at any time, grab the booklet from the EEG website and take yourself in there. http://www.eastgippsland.net.au/?q=node/265 then click on the bottom button to download the booklet as a PDF. EEG have now tracked into a beautiful new stand of giants around a magical glade. They than all the FF camp helpers, and especially Robyn and John.
New EEG Branch in Melbourne soon
A new EEG branch in Melb is being set up to help facilitate campaign work down there. EEG will let supporters know when and where the first meeting will be.
Importance of EEG's work reflected in massive response in donations from public
Over 700 donors have helped pay EEG's legal fees so far. This is phenomenal support that even some bigger groups can’t manage. EEG still could need more donations as the case was twice as long as anticipated and ended up with more expert witnesses than first thought. All were needed to try and secure a win for the forests.
If you want to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the financial year – think about making this it! And if you want to donate, why not buy a beautiful Brown Mt card as a gift in exchange for your donation. See website here for details #10;<p>If you’d like to donate specifically to help buy more survey gear like cameras ($400) or 6v gel cell batteries to run the cameras ($30) or fuel to help run the car to go out with survey eqpt (any amount) or a new-fandangled weatherproof sound recorder that can be trained to pick up only endangered frogs etc ($800), then by all means let EEG know. </p> <p>There are various options for donating – PayPal via website, another secure system (if you don’t like PayPal), direct deposit (email me for details) or cheque via old fashioned envelope and stamp method.</p> </body></html>">
The Brown Mountain landmark trial has begun!
After months of preparation, our legal team and supporters have gathered in Sale and begun the two-week Brown Mountain landmark trial.
Everything is going very well so far. It's difficult to report on a hearing that is in progress, particularly since we are the plaintiff, so this article might lack a few things.
Our lead barrister, Debbie Mortimer SC, spent Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in Court outlining what we say are the facts and the law, in a fascinating opening submission.
She spoke about the beautiful native wildlife that is central to our case, and the Court was treated to large pictures of the critters. It was almost surreal, but quite appropriate in our view, to see a team of lawyers in black gowns and wigs defending the furry, the feathered, the cray and the frog.
She said that VicForests has a number of legal responsibilities towards the environment, including endangered species, and that those responsibilities are inconsistent with logging at Brown Mountain.
For a more detailed summary of the first day's hearing, read this excellent article by The Age journalist Kate Hagen, who is attending the hearing #10;h.html">Click here
Journalists from ABC Radio and Win TV (channel 9) are also attending the hearings.
VicForests' lead barrister Ian Waller SC started outlining VicForests' case this afternoon. When Court adjourned today, he said he still had about an hour to go, so we haven't got the full picture yet.
But generally speaking he contended that VicForests' responsibility to the environment wasn't anywhere near as strong as we made out, and was balanced by its requirement to create economic and social benefits. He said that, to the extent to which VicForests has responsibilities to the environment and native wildlife, it has fulfilled them.
Judge and Legal teams in the field
On Wednesday, Justice Osborn and the legal teams were having a look at Brown Mountain first hand. It's not just a bushwalk, though; they will observe first hand some places and concepts about forests, logging and post-logging practices that will later on be discussed in Court.
On Thursday morning, VicForests' opening submissions is expected to finish, then Environment East Gippsland will bring out our witnesses.
Court is open to the public. You are welcome to attend if you are in Sale - there have been a few people sitting quietly in the public area. If you drop in, please come up and say hello.
A local wag is tweeting the trial. Click here for regular updates.
Court adjourned until Tuesday 9 March (Monday 8 is a public holiday.)
Information, but not headers, from Jill and the team at EEG
Environment East Gippsland Forest Update
To make a tax-deductible donation for this crucial trial:
* Online - CLICK HERE.
* By direct deposit - email info[AT]eastgippsland.com.au for our bank account details
* By cheque - Make out to EEG and send to: EEG, Locked Bag 3, ORBOST Vic 3888
The recent Auditor General's Report on the incompetence of the Victorian Government's wildlife statistics collection and maintenance mean that the Victorian government could not logically have the authority to make decisions about sustainable forestry where local fauna habitat is affected, in the opinion of this candobetter.org writer and environmental sociologist. Because of this, it seems to me that Environment East Gippsland has clearly won its case in advance. It will take years, decades, maybe half a century for the Victorian government to repair its statistical collection. But will the judges be aware of just how bad the government's information is? We have to make sure that they do by making this information so well-known that it cannot be avoided. So please pass the link to the Auditor General's report around.
Brown Mountain Court Case
Environment East Gippsland's (EEG) lawyers are working overtime getting the case and expert witness reports prepared for the court case which starts in just over 4 weeks. It will be at the Sale County Court (Supreme Court does regional hearing). EEG people have been offered some accomodation but could probably use more.
The case could blow out to over the two weeks set aside for it. The forest-related Acts can be complex so loads of paperwork needs to generated. EEG volunteers are still flat chat trying to raise more funds to ensure they can cover the immediate costs. Meanwhile Brown Mountain’s wildlife is getting around the old growth forests in peace. Volunteers are still maintaining spy cameras trying to get more critters on film.
Arrests of Wildlife Warriors
The summer season for protesting by our very own Avatars in old growth logging areas is happening with 5-6 brave and ethical people arrested on summons so far. The forests being targeted have been up in the Bonang River headwaters on the Errinundra Plateau. Currently between 20-30 people at the
camp here in Goongerah. VicForests response is to say protesters have stopped important machinery from being used for fighting fires. This is untrue.
Could I recommend the film Avatar as an example of what our Wildlife and Forest Warriors in Australia are defending and the forces that seek to destroy it? Brown Mountain, as you can see from the photos, has amazing huge trees and is a different and beautiful world. Searching for economic growth through these limpid havens is like searching for Unobtainium. It is a gross act.
Rob Quantok will donate half profits from regional performance to EEG
The very kind and funny actor, Rod Quantock is holding his “Bugger the Polar Bears – this is serious” show at Warrandyte on Sat 20th Feb 7.30. Bless him!
Half the profits he raises will be donated to EEG to help with our costs. Tickets $30. Ph: Ingrid 9870 8378 for details. (will send more details soon).
Help with art-programs needed on website
To help EEG's marketing and fundraising they would love the help of someone who has a good grasp of Photoshop or other image programs – to put a hand and an old growth forest together on their website.
Did we all forget again this year to nominate Jill Redwood and Rod Qantok (along with Julianne Bell, Jill Quirk and Mary Drost) for the Australia Day awards? Try to remember next year. Maybe we should have our own awards.