Lauren Caulfield, Melbourne
On June 4, people from around Victoria will rally here to protect the state's forests.
The World Environment Day event will start at 11am at the State Library in Swanston Street and march to Federation Square. It will call for the protection of Victoria's old-growth forests, water catchments and threatened species habitat. Special guests include the John Butler Trio, Bomba, and actors Jack Thompson and Julie Nihill.
"Right now we have a unique opportunity to save Victoria's forests from the export woodchip industry. The Victorian public will send a clear message to the Bracks government that it must act to protect these forests", said a rally organiser, Sarah Johnson from the Wilderness Society.
The World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Species, released in early May, ranks Australia in the top four countries for threatened species. It identifies 639 species in Australia as threatened with extinction and 65 more as critically endangered.
"The destruction that [Premier Steve] Bracks is allowing in our forests is wiping out the homes of many endangered species, such as the tiger quoll and the Leadbeaters possum", Goongerah Environment Centre spokesperson Fiona York said. "These areas are [also] vital for clean air and water. It is madness to be logging our water catchments while the state faces serious drought."
Victoria's forests are logged at a rate equivalent to 27 Melbourne Cricket Grounds per day. Woodchips from the state's forests are sold for export for as little as $0.11 per tonne.
The rally is being organised by a coalition of 12 environment groups, including regional Victorian groups, the Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation. "This is an exciting collaboration between a wide range of community and environment groups, conservationists from around the state and passionate Australian performers", York said. "More than 80% of Australians surveyed would like to see old-growth forests protected from logging, and this rally is an important opportunity to get out on the street and call on the government to see these areas protected."
From Green Left Weekly, May 31, 2006.
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