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Baillieu govt rewards VicForests for bad management

“Recently VicForests was caught out exporting whole logs, before that it was planned destruction of endangered wildlife habitat and currently the Ombudsman is investigating VicForests’ due processes." The industry is "in decline, with jobs on the line as the supply of trees dries up."

VicForests has been given aid of almost $1.3 million to clean up degraded clear-felled public forests that should have been rehabilitated and paid for by VicForests years ago. It is not the first time its poor management has been subsidised by taxpayers.

Today, Thursday 30th June 2011, Jill Redwood of Environment East Gippsland, asked, “What other business has made a loss every year yet is rewarded by millions of dollars of tax payers money to keep going?”

Miss Redwood described how VicForests has for years claimed that it was regenerating forests as it chopped them down, but it was not really doing so. Now that the government, with its $1.3 million taxpayer dollars is recognising that the forests have been devastated. The $1.3 million keeps a lie going.

“The regeneration backlog is out of control – over 7,000 ha in East Gippsland alone. If logging isn’t profitable enough to be able to clean up the mess it leaves, the logging should stop."

VicForest's poor record in minimising harm to our forests goes way back:

“Recently VicForests was caught out exporting whole logs, before that it was planned destruction of endangered wildlife habitat and currently the Ombudsman is investigating VicForests’ due processes."

“The genuine sawn timber industry, as opposed to the woodchip industry, has been struggling to compete with pine timber products for years. Almost 90% of sawn timber and wood panels are now derived from pine. This is causing loss of jobs in the native forest industry”, said Jill Redwood.

“It’s a bit rich for the Baillieu government to blame conservationists for this”.

The Age recently cited a Treasury report which said that VicForests, which is the government-owned company that logs Victoria's native forests, is "running out of timber, has failed to keep track of how much forest is left to log and cannot manage its costs."

According to the same report, VicForests had breached Department of Sustainability and Environment rules twice by logging too much and its backlog of forest that needs replanting has nearly tripled.

According to The Age,"The report portrays an industry in decline, with jobs on the line as the supply of trees dries up. Its early leak to another media outlet has embarrassed the Baillieu government, under pressure because of divisions between the Liberals and Nationals over conservation issues.

Ben Butler, "VicForests operations condemned," The Age, February 23, 2011
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Source: Environment East Gippsland, Media Release of 30 June 2011 and the Australian Forests and Climate Alliance Newsletter #3, March 1, 2011

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