Saving East Gippsland forests
A place worth fighting for
East Gippsland's forests support some of the finest remaining old growth forest left in Victoria. It is also a stronghold for many rare and threatened species which were once very common across the state.
The Victorian government and now the state-owned logging agency VicForests have logged many thousands of hectares of prime old growth, mature forest and rainforest since clearfelling started in the early 70s. What small patches remain are extremely valuable.
We need a new era of 'restoration' forestry to return our forests to the age and species diverse forests they once were, supporting a rich and healthy suite of plants and wildlife.
East Gippsland could be the Eco-tourism centre for old growth, wildlife and wild forest tourism.
As the demand for exported woodchips for paper making is in decline, the logging industry is pressuring the government to now allow a new and bigger threat to continue this destruction - cutting down swathes of forest for burning in electric furnaces and claiming it is 'renewable energy'. This market is growing overseas and our cooling carbon stores that provide us oxygen, could end up being shovelled into electricity generators overseas to power air conditioners and factories. We must not let this happen!
East Gippsland's forests are of world significance. English botanist David Bellamy described them as "the most diverse range of temperate forest ecosystems on earth".
They contain rainforests, pristine rivers, waterfalls, rare plants and animals. They are important for wildlife conservation, and are the last stronghold for threatened and endangered species such as the large forest owls, Spotted-tailed Quoll and the Long-footed Potoroo.
As the climate changes these old growth forests will also play increasingly important roles as carbon sinks and habitat sanctuaries for many of our threatened plants and animals. The best way to protect these forests is by giving them national park status.
Impacts of logging
East Gippsland's forests are being progressively destroyed by the export woodchip industry. Records obtained from VicForests' show that 85 per cent of our native forests end up as woodchips, sawdust and waste. This taxpayer-subsidised industry:
Causes siltation of streams.
Kills our native animals and obliterates their habitats.
Opens up and dries out forests, increasing their susceptibility to fire.
Accelerates the spread of feral animals and weeds.
Reduces the quality and quantity of water produced by forests.
Makes a major contribution to global warming - large volumes of carbon dioxide are released throughout Victoria each year due to regeneration burns.
The burns that follow clearfelling eliminate fire-sensitive and rainforest species.Clearfelling essentially transforms diverse natural forests into industrial tree farms for private profit.
This is occurring on public land to publicly-owned forests. The regrowth crops are logged within 20-30 years for woodchip exports. It becomes a commercial crop, not a natural forest.
In 2004, VicForests was established primarily to ensure logging public forests returned a profit to the state. Since that time it has made a loss almost every year and can only claim profitability by including the many subsidies and grants it has received every year and hiding certain costs. As a result logging in Victorian forests is still not economically viable without a significant subsidy from Victorian taxpayers.
Your voice is urgently needed to help protect some of Victoria's finest remaining old growth forest from logging.
Start by telling the politicians you care. Write letters and emails to your local State politician and the Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, who is responsible for VicForests. Letters don't have to be long, two or three paragraphs is fine.
Introduce yourself and express your views strongly as to why it is important to you that these forests are protected. These are your forests. They do not belong to the woodchip or logging companies.
Tell the Treasurer and your local MP that you want these forests protected. Create a sense of urgency, and let them know that you expect a reply. Tell them you believe this continuing destruction must end because it doesn't make environmental or economic sense.
Lastly, tell the Treasurer and your local MP that you expect the State Government to keep its promise to immediately protect the last significant stands of Victoria's old growth forest currently available for logging.
Your local MP: to find out who your local politician is, please visit www.parliament.vic.gov.au/members
Minister for Treasury and Finance, Tim Pallas:
Level 4, 1 Treasury Pl, East Melbourne, VIC 3002.
Tel: 03 9651 5201.
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville:
Level 17, 8 Nicholson St, East Melbourne, VIC 3002. Email: email@example.com.
Tel: 03 9637 9654.
Visit the Environment East Gippsland website for the latest news on logging that is currently occurring in East Gippsland.