NEWS 30 July 2021 |

Just before dinnertime on the last day of June, after sitting on changes for nearly two years, a proposal to weaken the rules that guide native forest logging in Victoria slid quietly out of the state government.

They gave the public only 28 days to respond.

So we’ve spent July studying the 350 highly technical pages and 3,000 proposed structural changes – many requiring in-depth legal interpretation. It’s a task I wouldn’t wish on anyone! But it had to be done.

What did we discover? This attempt to game the “Code of Practice for Timber Production” is bad news for nature, and very bad news for communities who fight for nature protection.

We’ve sent our submission and have put together a quick and easy message for you to send to the Environment Minister, expressing disappointment in the changes and lack of transparancy and consultation.

The proposed changes will dilute the already weak rules we have for protecting forest wildlife and cultural heritage from logging.

If these plans go ahead, hundreds of dedicated zones designed to protect habitat of threatened plant and wildlife, landscapes and public recreation areas won’t be governed by rules, but wishful targets.

The timing of this opaque attempt to undermine The Code of Practice for Timber Production – what government uses to manage the impact of native logging on wildlife and nature – is illogical.

Instead of mapping out a clear transition for native forest logging by 2030, new changes will give loggers access to threatened wildlife habitat, and important cultural and recreational sites.

Of serious concern are reforms aimed at silencing community rights to hold illegal logging to account.

Until now, when logging agencies acted broke rules and put nature at risk community groups could pursue justice through the law. If these amendments are passed, one of the most effective and democratic tools nature-lovers have will be taken from us.

Add your voice to many many others calling on the Victorian Government to abandon these changes and make the Code of Timber Production a genuine plan to transition out of native forest logging in Victoria.

If this email is ringing any bells, it’s because back in 2019 a similar proposal to water down “the Code” emerged. Because of concerns raised by the conservation community the Environment Minister quickly withdrew the flawed plan.

Despite this backlash, they’re giving it another crack.

In the wake of a global extinction crisis, climate disruption and the devastating bushfires, strengthening logging laws and transitioning out of native forest logging is the only responsible way forward.

The Environment Minister should strengthen the Code, not dilute it.

Download or read the VNPA submission

Wombat Forest © Sandy Scheltema