The federal and Victorian governments announced on March 27 a two-year extension of the controversial Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) for East Gippsland, the North East and the Central Highlands. They will be reassessed at the end of the two-year period.
Scientists and conservationists have called on the federal government to strengthen Australia’s national environment laws, chiefly the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA).
Environmentalists are outraged that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has called for a review of the protection status of Victoria’s faunal emblem, the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum, so new logging zones in Victoria’s central highlands can be opened.
Joyce wrote to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on March 26, criticising the decision to reduce the logging quota offered to Gippsland’s Heyfield mill operators Australian Sustainable Hardwood (ASH) from 155,000 cubic metres a year to 80,000 cubic metres in 2017–18 and 60,000 cubic metres in the next two years.
Volunteer conservationists forced a last minute stay of execution for a section of forest near Toolangi that they had shown was home to the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum, which VicForests contractors were due to clearfell within days.