Victoria's environment department has charged the government-owned logging agency VicForests over its illegal logging of rainforest buffer zones in East Gippsland. The allegations relate to a logging operation in the Serpentine Creek Rainforest Site of Significance near Cann River, which caused serious damage to protected warm temperate rainforest.
Lawless Logging, a new report by Friends of the Earth, Fauna and Flora Research Collective and Goongerah Environment Centre, has documented 27 unlawful native forest logging operations by Victoria's state-owned logging company VicForests in protected threatened species habitat and rainforest in East Gippsland and the Central Highlands.
VicForests' new Timber Utilisation Plan 2017 for western Victoria shows logging will target areas known to contain high numbers of threatened species, including the iconic red-tailed black cockatoo, and large areas of endangered, vulnerable or depleted native vegetation types.
Much of the timber to be harvested is for low-value uses including commercial firewood, poles, posts and some sawlogs.
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.
National Threatened Species Day on September 7 is held each year to commemorate the day the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity in a Hobart zoo in 1936.
Environment groups Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO), Wildlife of the Central Highlands and Fauna and Flora Research Collective decided to commemorate the day this year by presenting an invoice for $2 million to the state government.
The groups called on the state government to better protect species such as the threatened Greater Glider and Victoria’s animal emblem, the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum.
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.
Despite finding evidence of the possum in mid-April, posted as a video on facebook, “citizen scientists” monitoring logging operations were alarmed on May 4 to find the Imperium logging coupe where the possum was found was due to commence logging any day.
A plan for a new national park to protect the endangered Leadbeater's possum has been dealt a blow with revelations VicForests has locked in millions of dollars of new logging contracts.
State Labor ducked a promise to create a Great Forest national park in the recent state election following pressure from the CFMEU, which had threatened to campaign against Labor on the basis that ending logging in the area would threaten jobs.