A ray of hope in the fight against unsustainable logging
By Nick Legge
12 May 2018 — 11:00pm
Last week's injunction granted by the Federal Court stopping VicForests from logging certain areas in the Central Highlands until a court hearing next year is a ray of hope for those seeking an ecologically sustainable approach to native forest logging.
Mountain ash forest.
The case – brought by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum – is based on the failure by VicForests to abide by the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014, the regulations governing timber harvesting.
Yet the regulatory breaches cited to the court only scratch the surface. The Rubicon Forest Protection Group presented evidence to the current review of Victorian Regional Forest Agreements showing clear-felled areas far larger than permitted; blackberries rampant and unchecked; washouts on steep slopes that should not have been logged; the popular Rubicon Historic Area logged; tourist roads left with no buffers; retained trees killed in regeneration burns; springs and ephemeral watercourses logged and silted.
As well as such breaches of the code, other provisions of the Central Highlands RFA have been breached, including failure to adopt sustainable harvest levels by Forest Management Area (FMA) and failure to implement a proper system of forest reserves. By maintaining accreditation of Victoria’s forest management system in the face of these breaches the Commonwealth Government has breached its RFA obligations.
That Victoria’s native forest timber supplies are dwindling is well understood. However what is less well known is that this is partly due to past timber supply projections being based on overstated timber resource estimates, as the Victorian Auditor-General reported in 2013. VicForests prefers to gloss over this, blaming the need to protect Leadbeater’s possum for the latest cutback. This may be so but it ignores the main cause of the possum’s perilous status – habitat loss from...