BY GRAHAM MATTHEWS
On October 30, Victorian Labor Premier Steve Bracks ordered a moratorium
on the logging of the Goolengook state forest in the East Gippsland.
Under the moratorium, logging in the old-growth forest will be suspended
for at least six months. During this period, the Victorian Environmental
Assessment Council (VEAC) will conduct a study of the impact of logging
and look at alternative sources for logging within the East Gippsland area.
The Goolengook forest was blockaded by environmentalists for five years
up until March, when the Bracks government sent a massive police detachment
to break the blockade. It is the home to numerous endemic plant and animal
species, many of which are endangered.
The moratorium announcement, coming only five days before the government
is constitutionally able to call an early election, has been greeted with
some cynicism from environmental groups.
The Wilderness Society has said that of the 5000 hectares it believed
were worthy of protection, only 722 hectares would be saved from logging.
The decision was a reprieve, but in no way a win, Fiona York from
the Goongerah Environment Centre at Orbost told Green Left Weekly.
Just swapping Goolengook for other areas, particularly as those areas
will likely be habitats for endangered species, will not change much. Logging
will continue in old-growth forest and in water catchment areas.
The announcement was pretty cynical, York added. The six-month timetable
for the VEAC to report will most likely fall after the elections, and the
Bracks government won't even have to deal with it if it's not re-elected.
It's a grab for Green preferences. They're trying to green-wash themselves.
From Green Left Weekly, November 6, 2002.
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