Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


Toolangi forest

last days for the Toolangi treehouse?

a view from the treehouse
a view from the treehouse

On sunday 10 November, 2013, a young activist called Hannah Patchett launched a long term tree sit to highlight the immediate threats to the Leadbeaters Possum through continued destruction of its habitat. Logging threatens the survival of this species in the Central Highlands to the east of Melbourne.

A range of people have lived in the treehouse since then, bearing witness to the on-going destruction of the precious ash forests.

Now the treehouse has been issued with an eviction notice from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), which expires on the 9th of April. At this point it is expected that DEPI will remove the treehouse on or soon after the 9th.

A group of people connected with the treehouse are currently appealing to DEPI (Department of Environment and Primary Industries) to provide an ongoing permit for the treehouse, or to at least give some reason why a permit has been denied. At this stage we can only assume that the treehouse will be torn down and destroyed if a permit is not granted.

You can keep track of developments by following the treehouse on facebook.

State decision on future of native forest timber industry expected soon

The following is taken from an article in the Herald Sun newspaper written by James Campbell.


In the next few weeks the State Government will make a decision which is likely to seal the fates of leadbeater’s possums and Victoria’s native forest timber industry.

Cabinet will soon consider a report from an advisory group which includes such possum-friendly folk as the boss of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries and representatives of VicForests, established to consider ways it can be saved “while maintaining a sustainable timber industry”. The report has gone to Environment Minister Ryan Smith and Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh. What it says, we’ll have to wait and see.

Government sources say that the two men take a different view of what should be done. Smith is believed to support the creation of a Central Highlands National Park to save the possum, while Walsh is prepared to accept a small area be set aside to save the timber industry. His line of argument with his colleagues is expected to be that this is a jobs issue, which in an election year should trump other considerations. The Government claims the industry employs 2300 people, but it is unclear how many of those jobs depend entirely on native forestry, rather than a mixture of native and plantation timber. The largest employer, with 900 jobs, is the Maryvale paper plant, which has indicated in the past it would be happy to shift to chips from plantations. VicForests itself only employs 114 people.

Normally, the smart money would be on “Walshie” to get his way. The Agriculture Minister has earned a reputation for winning internal battles. In a Smith vs. Walsh fight it would be no contest. The wildcard, though, is Treasurer Michael O’Brien and his department. O’Brien is unlikely to be impressed with an industry whose subsidies are retarding the growth of the private enterprise plantation industry. The possum may yet triumph over the loggers.

The full article can be read here.

For details on the proposed Great Forest National Park, check here.

The Herald Sun has some salient points about the finances around the economics of the native forest industry. Should the tax payer continue to subsidise the logging of our native forests potentially at the risk of losing the Leadbeaters Possum?. The article says:

As for VicForests financial statements, the best that can be said for them is that they are not as bad as they used to be.

(In the last year) its net profit was only $802,000 — which, while pretty dismal, is still better than the $96,000 it lost the year before.

VicForests hasn’t paid a dividend to the Victorian Treasury, i.e. the taxpayers, since 2007.

Indeed, it has only managed to pay a dividend twice since it was established in 2004. Across its eight years of existence it has reported an after-tax profit of only $12.3 million. But even that you can take with a grain of salt, as over the same period it has received government grants of $24.7 million.

eviction notice soon for Toolangi treehouse?

1522060_374731309336888_1556541492_nOn sunday 10 November, 2013, a young activist called Hannah Patchett launched a long term tree sit to highlight the immediate threats to the Leadbeaters Possum through continued destruction of its habitat. Logging threatens the survival of this species in the Central Highlands to the east of Melbourne.

She has called a ‘festive picnic’ at the red treehouse, because she is expecting the government to issue a notice of complaint addressed to the ‘owner’ on the 3rd or 6th of January. Supporters will host a walk to the location of the treehouse with local naturalist Burnie Mace and a movie screening is also planned, plus some live music. This will be a family friendly drug and alcohol free event.

It  will be held on thursday January the 3rd. Please call the Camp phone on 0455 111 985 for specific directions and if you feel like it please ask if you can bring something or help some one with a lift. The journey is about 1.5hrs from Melbourne.

More details on the facebook page and background info here.

Law fails to guarantee protection for Victoria’s emblem

This release is from Healesville based MyEnvironment, about the outcome of the recent case seeking protection for the Leadbeaters Possum.

Law fails to guarantee protection for threatened species

IMG_2247_Version_2The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act has never before been tested at the level of Appeal. By taking our case to Appeal we have given the law the best possible opportunity to show whether it can be effective in its stated purpose of GUARANTEEING the survival of unique native species.

In this, the law has failed.

This judgement gives the green light to ongoing destruction of Leadbeater’s Possum habitat in Toolangi State Forest at sites where we have photographic and video confirmation that the species is present. Obviously, this is a disappointing outcome for MyEnvironment but, more importantly, for Leadbeater’s Possum and all other species that rely on the protection of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act for their ongoing survival.

If the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act is incapable of guaranteeing the protection of our state’s faunal emblem against a rapacious logging industry, we have to wonder what, if anything, does it protect?

We call on the state government to urgently review the Act to make it functional and effective in saving threatened species, including the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction.

In the meantime, we call on VicForests and its contractors to demonstrate genuine commitment to their repeated protestations of concern for the survival of Leadbeater’s Possum by properly protecting all sites in logging coupes that contain known colonies of the species, including the three Toolangi coupes that were the subject of this case, where video and photographs of nesting and foraging animals have recently been obtained. Their conduct in coming days and weeks will be a public demonstration of their sincerity and decency.

We shall now take time to study the implications of the judgement for MyEnvironment, the group and its members, and to take advice on future action.

For quotes please call ; Steve Meacher 0447 330 863 or  Sarah Rees 0438 368 870

For background on the Toolangi forest issue, check here.

Little Red Toolangi Treehouse – week 2

996033_684143504937992_1091510074_nOn sunday 10 November, 2013, a young activist called Hannah Patchett launched the beginning of what is intended to be a long term tree sit to highlight the immediate threats to the Leadbeaters Possum through continued destruction of its habitat.

Now in her second week of living in treesit, she has been getting some great media and good local support.

Background on the Toolangi forest campaign available here.

Stay in touch via facebook.

Read Hannah’s article in the Guardian here.

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