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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
'45,000 hectare' East Gippsland forest decision - reactions
Mood:  surprised
Topic: ecology

One of the challenges of a micro news website is deciding what category to post news under. In this post is it really about "ecology" or arguably real politik of buying the silence of the Melbourne head office based Australian Conservation Foundation, formerly ALP aligned on the climate legislation famously before the Senate today? Certainly there is big politics at play as per this media release by a peak green group challenging ALP Premier Brumby on 12 Nov 2009:

Lack of leadership breaks election promise to protect Victoria’s old-growth forests

 And as per this media release welcoming the ACF back to the indy fold by Green Party senators:


 

In that case it would be an "aust govt" topic really. But this story is about "the trees" in the jargon, which itself is a misnomer because that's shorthand for the massive water storage in the root system, the fungi and lichens, vertebrate furries, invertebrate crawlies, ground and mid storey plants of various green hues under 800 year old huge tree trunks and cool canopy.

Places like Goolengook, Dingo Creek, Brown Mountain, some seriously vandalised and smashed, others partly so, and a rare few still intact, not yet woodchipped for Japanese cartoon books and landfill.

So how good is the recent Victorian decision? Here is response of Tony Hastings with a background in famous legal victory over illegal rainforest logging in the Victorian Supreme Court (here via Austlii legal data base Hastings v Brennan; Tantram v Courtney (No. 3) [2005] VSC 228 (28 June 2005)

(Declaration: This writer paid for air fare for legal support for Tony for that hearing.)

Here is Tony's reaction [with bold added, and photographs added from his website and our file for East Gippsland]

 

From: Tony Quoll

To: Sent: Friday, November 27, 2009 8:09 AM
Subject: 45000ha new National park in East Gippsland!

Hi all,

Pop the champagne and shout it from the rooftops; The Parks And Crown Land Legislation Amendment (East Gippsland) Bill was been passed by the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Assembly yesterday, 26th November.

 

This means that 45,000ha of forest including the entire Goolengook forest block, Rainforest Sites of National Significance including Dingo Creek and Sassafras Basin, and linkages between parks are now protected from logging.

 

This means that most of the areas which fulfilled the ‘JANIS’ criteria during the 1996 ‘Comprehensive Regional Assessment’ have at long last been included in the “Comprehensive Adequate and Representative Reserve System,” – which is what the public were lead to believe at the time.

 

And it only took a campaign involving dozens of lobbyists, hundreds of blockades, thousands of protesters, millions of items of correspondence and inestimable stress on all involved.


 

Don’t be fooled into believing that all old-growth forests and threatened species habitat is now safe. Those last fragments are scattered across the landscape, mostly in steep, wet gullies, and still rely on the writing and implementation of Action Statements required under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, enforced via the Code of Practice for Timber Production (2007).. Particularly, the “Loss of Hollow-bearing trees from Victorian forests”, listed in 1992, with action required “as soon as possible.”

 

The passing of the The Parks And Crown Land Legislation Amendment (East Gippsland) Bill  is a wonderful and amazing thing. It gives hope that there is some decency in humanity, and hope that honourable deeds will occur.

 

Hooray!

 

Tony Hastings
Po Box 130 Merimbula NSW 2548

http://www.mannapark.com.au/
http://www.mannaparkscamp.com.au/
http://www.green.net.au/quoll


 

 

.................................

 


 

Like World Heritage, conservation requires eternal vigilance. Here is legendary Jill Redwood response:

Hi Tom and others -
here's my take on the announcement. .....The areas that were included (after some were gutted like the heart of Goolengook and Dingo Creek) are a good save, but look at what was left out and double saved - ie - protecting large areas that were already in protection zones while leaving areas like the controversial Brown Mountain old growth open for the loggers.
Jill
-----------------
ALP promise dishonoured
Old growth forests to go up in smoke.
 
The Brumby government snuck out a media release at 7pm on Tuesday 10th November 2009. What was in it that they didn't want the media to make a big deal about? 
It was about the area of old growth that it had promised to protect 3 years ago - but much reduced. There is now 5,000 ha less than the original offer. It also cut out the intact stands of old growth at Ferntree Creek and Big River. How did they do this and still claim to protect even more? They protected areas that were already protected but under a different name.
In 2006 they had 4,000 ha of protected forest offered for protection. In 2009, the government used this trick again to protect an even greater 12,000 ha of reserves. This is hardly a conservation win when ancient trees at Brown Mt. are still planned for logging.
The dry crappy burnt forest around Buchan has been left in as 'significant stands of old growth'.
However - one part of the offer is quite good. There's a decent area of the Yalmy forests protected (too steep to log) and at last Goolengook (what a shame they’d already spent over a $million logging the heart out of it earlier). 
But the rest?
Page ONE of the ALP 2006 election policy was a clearly worded promise to protect "the last significant stands of old growth currently available for logging" ---  not cow paddocks --- not burnt regrowth --- not previously logged areas --- not protect areas already protected -  but 'significant stands of old growth currently available for logging'.

This is another attempt by the government to put polish on a turd. 
 
Mr Brumby has caved into the logging brotherhood - again. Three years of negotiations after a solid promise to protect old growth and the Labor government still can't do what it says it will for forests.  
 
So that means thousands of hectares of publicly owned old growth forest are still on the government logging maps for conversion to industrial tree farms.
 
The government could have easily and smoothly honoured this promise - saved old growth forests - our 600 year old trees, endangered wildlife and saved the declining logging industry in East Gippsland. How? By helping to provide skilled workers to the plantations in the rest of the state. These plantation companies are screaming out for hundreds of workers. 
But Mr Brumby has instead decided to knock down ancient forests, add hundreds of years of stored carbon into the atmosphere, convert public forests into commercial tree crops, maintain the conflict, keep a handful of workers in an insecure industry, while allowing the plantation logging companies in the west to import their labour needs. 
Thanks Mr Brumby.
Jill

See also this video from 2006:

Protecting Victoria's Forests (part 1 of 2)

Protecting Victoria's Forests (part 2 of 2)


Posted by editor at 7:46 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 December 2009 7:53 AM EADT

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