As post logging burns darken the sky across eastern Victoria, a growing number of community groups are mobilising to oppose the practise of the burns.
Post logging fires are different to fuel reduction burns. Post logging fires are meant to remove all the debris left behind from logging – the unwanted trees, the heads and branches, and the understory vegetation. Generally the waste is pushed into piles and burnt.
The argument is that this clears the ground to allow rapid growth of new trees. However, it also causes significant air pollution and puts huge volumes of carbon into the atmosphere. According to Forest Conservation Victoria, a 57 hectare coupe that was recently burnt near Warburton ‘contained an estimated 8,000 tonnes of fuel that has now been released into the atmosphere’. There is a recent news story from The Age here, which outlines the public health impacts of this practise.
According to Forest Conservation Victoria, there are 85 coupe burns planned by VicForests and DEWLP in the near future.
A local win
Following recent activism in the Central Highlands, east of Melbourne, the Victorian government has announced additional air quality measurement equipment will be placed in the Upper Yarra valley. This has been welcomed by the community. Air monitors have been set up in Warburton & Healesville. You can use this link to access the current reading: https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/ under ‘Community AirWatch’.
While the community is locked in at home, logging and post logging burns have continued through the Central Highlands, including in the northern end of the ranges in the Snobs Creek valley. Industrial scale clear-fell logging is taking place in this area. The highly biodiverse ecosystem of mountain and alpine ash in the Rubicon State Forest has been virtually logged-out.
Many local groups remain active despite the lock down, including:
Toolangi Forest Protection Group (facebook page here).
Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum (facebook page here).
Wildlife of the Central Highlands – a citizens science group (facebook page here).
Protect Warburton Ranges is a new group that describes itself as a ‘Community Action Group protecting the future of our Warburton ranges. We take a stand against all native forest logging in the Central Highlands and across Victoria’.
They are calling for a moratorium on logging and burns during the COVID-19 crisis.
Lets get on with the transition
The Victorian government has pledged to end native forest logging. It has allocated $130 million to help the industry get out of forests and identify new sources of pulp and timber (the majority of timber taken out of native forests goes to pulp).
Please tell the Victorian government to get on with the transition. Please sign the petition to the premier here.