While we are all patiently sitting at home in order to do our bit and ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infections, logging continues at full speed in the forests of Victoria. And Tasmania has just signed over up to 356 000 hectares of forests that should be in reserves to now be available for logging.
Regional Forest Agreement in Victoria signed
The logging industry was given exemption from federal environmental laws recently for another ten years, in spite of the horrific impacts of this summer’s bushfires on forests and wildlife.
Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are agreements between the State and Federal governments which give logging a special exemption from Federal environment laws (the EPBC Act). Logging is the only extractive industry which receives legal exemption, and will be disastrous for threatened species and forests devastated by the fires.
Given the extensive impacts of the bushfires on forests and wildlife the agreements should have been left to expire to give species a chance to recover. RFAs have allowed logging in thousands of hectares of threatened species habitat for over 20 years, and this will continue now they’ve been renewed. This will have devastating consequences for wildlife already on the brink of extinction.
A reaction from Goongerah Environment Centre is available here.
Logging continues in Victoria during the shut down
According to Forest Conservation Victoria (report here),
“While the world has come to a halt as a result of COVID-19, logging across Victoria’s native forests continues unabated. There are currently 16 active crews in our forests tearing down critical carbon stores, precious ecosystems and remaining habitat for bushfire affected threatened species. Solo logging operations have been discovered by the community during this global health crisis, a practice which is completely unacceptable and unsafe.
On top of this, there are 85 coupe burns planned by VicForests and DEWLP in the near future. Despite a nationwide lockdown and serious restrictions placed upon Australians to mitigate health risks and “flatten the curve”, these burns will have severe respiratory impacts on those living within the area. There has been a direct correlation found between Pm10 air pollution particulates and viral transmission. Our government is heightening risks to the community during a global pandemic.
Forest Conservation Victoria are taking COVID-19 seriously. We ask that at this time, stay safe and take care of yourself and your community. We also recognise that we cannot let the continued decimation of our forests go unchallenged.
Please help keep the pressure up, while social distancing, by emailing your local members of parliament. Let them know that logging and polluting our air puts everyone at risk and cannot go ahead”.
Please sign the petition to the Victorian government urging them to implement their promised transition of the native forest industry into plantations.
Snobs Creek being logged
Industrial scale clear-fell logging is taking place in the Snobs Creek Valley. The Central Highlands are the most heavily logged area in Australia. The highly biodiverse ecosystem of mountain and alpine ash in the Rubicon State Forest has been virtually logged-out.
Meanwhile, in Tasmania,
The Bob Brown Foundation reports:
April 8, 2020, is when 356 000 hectares of forests that should be in reserves become available for logging. These forests, called Future Potential Production Forests by the Tasmanian Liberal Government, have been in a moratorium since 2012.
Logging forest nature reserves. With proven High Conservation Values (HCVs). In a climate and extinction crisis. On top of the 800,000 hectares of public state forests, Suss Timber Tasmania already logs. It’s an outrage.
Worse still, over $400 million of public money was used to compensate the logging industry, which agreed to protect these areas in exchange. But now it says it wants to log them anyway and Premier Gutwein is only too happy to help.
These threatened forests include:
• 100 000 hectares in takayna / Tarkine
• Vast stretches of on Tasmania’s east coast from Blue Tier in the North to surrounds of Ben Lomond and Douglas-Apsley National Parks.
• Swift Parrot habitat of Wielangta and Bruny Island.
• Tracts of the Great Western Tiers.
Please Sign this petition telling Tasmania’s ‘Premier for Climate Change’, Peter Gutwein to stop this public policy madness.
Check the map: it shows recent fires (dark) and planned logging areas (yellow) over the next three years.
This is the state of the Tasmanian forestry estate up until April 2020.
The areas under the three year plan are those scheduled for active logging within the 2019 to 2021 period.
The significant Tasmanian fires in the summer of 2018-2019 have meant many logging areas in the South are unable to be harvested. This has led to increased logging activity in takayna in the NorthWest.
The ‘production forest’ zone is the area currently available to be included in three year harvest plans.
A total of 447 000 hectares of old growth forest will be threatened by logging after the 8th April 2020.
This represents close to a third of the mapped old growth in Tasmania.