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Conservationists celebrate reports that state government will end native forest logging by the end of the year

Victorian Forest Alliance (VFA) Media Release

This morning the ABC has reported that the Daniel Andrews government has made a decision to bring forward the transition out of native forest logging, from 2030 to January 2024.

Conservationists and forest campaigners from across the state are celebrating the news, after long, and hard-fought campaigns, some spanning nearly four decades. Only months after the announcement in 2019 that native forest logging would be phased out through a decade-long transition, one of the largest and most devastating bushfires in human memory wiped out more than two thirds of the forest in the far east of the state, decimating forests and wildlife. Despite the catastrophic impacts of the fires, native forest logging continued.

Before the announcement in 2019, and to this day, state owned logging company VicForests has been involved in countless controversies and scandals, from serious breaches to environment laws, to using public funds to spy on conservationists and scientists. Last year VicForests reported a record annual loss of $54 million, subsidised by taxpayers.

Community legal cases and forms of direct action like citizen science have long been used to hold the state-owned logging agency accountable to the law, and to try and protect forests under threat from logging. Most recently a landmark case halted logging where endangered greater gliders and yellow-bellied gliders are found. The case was instrumental in upholding VicForests’ legal requirements to survey for wildlife prior to logging, a law they had been ignoring for years.

Spokesperson and Campaign Coordinator for the Victorian Forest Alliance, Chris Schuringa stated, “This is a monumental win; for forests, for wildlife, for climate, and for the hard-working people who have spent countless hours surveying for endangered species, preparing evidence for court cases, lobbying, and campaigning. Some have been fighting for this for over three decades.”

“There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure these forests are permanently protected from all kinds of destructive practices – not just conventional logging. The next priority is to focus on supporting workers through a just transition and restoring Victoria’s native forests, which will provide real, lasting, sustainable employment for regional communities.”

“But for now, we are overjoyed by this historic announcement, and acknowledge the hard work, passion and perseverance of all the people who have been fighting for this for so long.” said Chris Schuringa, VFA Campaign Coordinator.

 

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8 comments

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  1. leefe

    We’ll see. We had a great transition away from old-growth native forest logging here in Tassie; an d then the state government changed and tore it all up and things are worse than ever.
    And the unions will not be happy about this.

  2. Mark Shields

    It’s highly suspicious when China chooses Timber as the first commodity to be freed from CCP trade targets with Australia. Are they trying to tell us something about our pathetic attempts at Environmental Conservation, after they have done so badly themselves?

    No one apart from the Chinese seem to recognise how badly we are protecting our own Bio-Diversity! But let’s not forget how badly the CCP has treated its own Environment!

  3. Clakka

    As I understand, it’s only plantation softwoods that are / will be exported to China – although not sure about the remnant Blue Gum plantations.

    Great news about Vic old growth forests. Considering the $54 million loss, it would be great to see the redeployment of the VicForest workforce into restoring the wreckage wrought by leaving harvesting waste insitu, and in erosion and water quality degradation caused by their activities, whilst also proper replanting for ‘re-wilding’.

    In the past, it has been typical short term madness that has Oz neglecting to grow plantations of highly valuable and sought after slow-growing hardwoods that are important structural and furniture timbers. The initial maturity cycle is about 30 years, however the financial return is many times greater than softwoods.

    The late 1990’s (Howard) government’s MIS scheme providing investment tax incentives for Blue Gum forests (only for paper-making wood chip exports) was a complete shemozzle that saw high-grade ag land in Vic inundated by opportunists, with the operations mismanaged, corrupted and short-cut by the likes of Great Southern Group and Timbercorp (now liquidated). It was mainly emplaced in SW Vic and SW Western Australia, but was also expanded to NSW, Qld and some Pacific islands. It was notorious for frequently breaching environmental laws. The operation of the scheme was likened to a ‘Ponzi Scheme’, acquiring a strangle-hold on land assets, gaming tax incentives early, then charging inflated management fees, whilst neglecting proper operational management. The whole caboodle collapsed in the first decade of the 2000s, leaving investors suckered for about $2billion. The paper-making industry would have been much better served by hemp plantations (can also be used for high-strength structural timber composites)

    Over recent years, the feckless LNP government again corrupted the systems of land management and forestation to facilitate yet another ‘Ponzi Scheme’, this time on the basis of (climate change abatement) via forest-based carbon sequestration. Currently the Labor government is pulling the covers off the rorts, and re-modelling the scheme for effectiveness and fit-for purpose – there’s a long way to go. And in this, there may be some scope in some locales for plantations of the fast-growing blue gums, including for groundwater desalination purposes.

    Oz has a magnificent record of stuffing up its environmental assets, and destroying its native fauna and water resources by ignorant and uninformed agricultural practices. On a rapacious, never-mind, just ship it out mentality – eg near destruction of the SW WA old growth hardwood forests for railway sleepers for Britain – the toady politicians just didn’t give a stuff.

    Science and tech have come a long way, and we largely now know what works, and how to do it without wrecking the joint. Albeit there remain many political bludgers out there, and an enormity of work to be done to make good on the environmental killing sprees of the past.

    This action by Dan in Vic, has in my view taken a great smirch off him and his government, and I watch-on expecting much hard work by them in the follow-on. Only 6 more States / Territories to go.

  4. leefe

    Clakka:

    While I agree with much of what you say, the transition of native natural forest to monoculture plantation is still an environmental disaster. Wildlife is killed and/or displaced, natural ecosystems are destroyed, the water cycle is disrupted, fires become more intense and more prevalent, biodiversity is lost.
    In many ways, the older method of allowing the normal (albeit much slower) regeneration of natural forest was superior, although it was still a major issue for the local wiildlife.

  5. Terence Mills

    As I understand, it’s only plantation softwoods that are / will be exported to China

    Clakka, the problem is that building materials in Australia and in particular timber framing are in short supply at present and with China prepared to pay premium prices this is just going to compound the problem for our building trades.

  6. Clakka

    Leefe & Terence,

    I have absolutely no argument with what you say

    I understand the regeneration mode issue, but have an even greater concern for fauna habitat.

    I am very aware of timber supply issues here in Oz, perhaps I didn’t enunciate that. Much of my commentary was around the importance of ‘structural hardwoods’ and the use of hemp per se for the making of efficacious composites.

  7. Terence Mills

    Clakka

    I fully agree with you ; not only hemp but bamboo and spent banana palms(I live in banana country).

    There are many fibres that lend themselves to composites.

  8. Clakka

    Terence,

    Indeed. I’m all in favour of using any ‘waste’ fibres industrially (to close the production loop) provided there are no residual processing pollutants, eg banana stalk fibre and sugar cane fibre. I’m not so keen to ‘introduce’ bamboo, but am happy for those where it is endemic to make use of it, except where known processing produces pollutants.

    I’ll try not to get too revved up here about hemp. My original motivation was the way it was ditched via political corruption by the American oil (and other) industries, trashing many livelihoods globally in the completely sustainable hemp industry. I have been keeping an eye on the tech / scientific developments for years, particularly for construction uses, including in composites, not only for construction, but other ‘panel’ products as well. In different forms it can be used in such a wide variety of applications, none of which require polluting chemical reduction. It has superior micro-fibres, and its other waxy and ruinous components are proving good in development of bio-plastics. It is light and many times stronger than steel in tension, compression and bending, and can readily compete with CFRPs (carbon fibre reinforced polymers) which traditionally rely on petroleum-based polymers. And so on and so forth ……

    Agriculturally, it is very well suited to growing in the very wide ranging soils and climatic conditions.

    The next one I am keeping an eye on is spinifex, developed and promoted via a First Nations entrepreneur, and networked through a very broad network of First Nations communities.

    Making high tech medical gels with Australian spinifex grass

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