Jill Redwood, as coordinator of Environment East Gippsland, conducted a landmark environmental court case that saw her group awarded damages against the Government Forestry corporation, VicForests, who were told to conduct proper investigations for the presence of threatened species in areas they logged and to design and enact plans to safeguard them according to the law. Three years later the Giant Trees Walk on Brown Mountain, which EEG had created in order to develop awareness of the rape of East Gippsland's forests, has been destroyed by persons unknown, equipped with heavy equipment and chainsaws.
"All the way along here to our Brown Mountain forests - which was the test case in this court case - they have cut down every big tree along the way."
The case proved that VicForests were not abiding by the government's own rules. They have to do prelogging surveys before they go in and log areas that might have threatened species in them. Prior to the court case they were not doing this at all. "If they couldn't find them, that was better. They didn't want to know about them."
They've changed the law for poteroos. Where they used to find them, they have to protect 450ha. then they changed the law, so now they only have to protect 50ha and this doesn't have to be in the detection sites. So, if one is found right in the middle of where they plan to log, they can protect 50ha somewhere over the other side of the gully. This law was changed under the current (Baillieu then Napthine) Liberal government, but the case began under the Bracks (Labor) Government in 2009. The Liberal Government carried on the bad work of the Labor Party. The Liberal Party wanted to change the Code of Forest Practices, which is a mess of laws and management plans and codes which interconnect, but the Code did say that they have to abide by the management plan and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. So what this Liberal Government wanted to do was to change the code or the wording in the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, so that a minister could just say, "No, where you find threatened species, you don't have to protect them; go in and log." So they were going to change the whole thing just by adding one extra sentence in. But they probably haven't done that because they realised that would open up more legal cases to challenge that change. All the laws are interconnected, so if they change that one, then it will may then contradict or contravene another law or laws. It goes back to the RFAs and all sorts of things.
At the moment they are carrying out pre-logging surveys, but EEG calls them 'mickey mouse surveys' because they are so poorly done and poorly financed. The people doing the pre-logging surveys might find a tenth of what is there because they just don't have the time and the resources. That suits VicForests very well. That's how they are getting away with logging areas that have threatened species now.
The court case took a huge toll on the Environment East Gippsland group. They had saved up $40,000 which was not really enough but once that people heard that there was a court case to save the forests, they were able to access huge public support.
Nothing has really changed, unfortunately. A few areas have been protected, probably where they did not want to log really. Recently EEG found them logging protected rainforest sites of significance. EEG threatened to sue them over this but VicForests gave in before they got to the Court steps.
The logging industry is a huge liability for the Victorian Government. VicForests is a government-owned logging monopoly now. It has cost the government millions to defend it in court.
It's really another form of public land-grab
It's about a land-grab. It's the real-estate they want, not the old growth forest. The old growth forest doesn't have very good timber for logging needs because the trees are old and twisted. But, where old growth grows and where these nice rich, lush, wildlife rich and valuable forests grow is on the highest productivity land. That is, land with flat topography, deep soil, high rainfall - perfect for plantations. Hey, and it's public land! Public money! Clear the forests, put in these nice single-species tree farms ... Sucker public has to pay for it. That's what's been happening for 40 years. Where we used to have this landscape of beautiful old growth diverse forests, with the threatened tiger quoll, the owls, all these wonderful creatures here, with little pockets of logging. Now, it's these little pockets of old growth in this sea of tree-farms for the overseas pulp industry.
EEG, whilst preparing their case against VicForests, set up infrared photography in the forests and were the first to film a long-footed poteroo gathering brush for its nest by carrying it under its tail. We don't know half of what we have in these forests. Gippsland is still such an unknown area. The number of threatened species here, both plant and animal, is 7 times the state average. Jill describes it as 'a Noah's ark' which should be protected as such and says that, if only the government could realise the value in this. Ecotourism is the part of the tourist industry that is just growing phenomenally. People want to come out here. They want to experience nature. They want to see the wildlife. So much money is being spent to prop up the destructive industry of logging - which, if it were a person, would be a 'welfare bludger' and a vandal, says Jill - to destroy these areas that could be the showcase of Australia. It could be globally important to take these international visitors and take them on night walks and show them the gliders and stand at the base of this massive big tree that's 15m around. Instead the government's loggers are just cutting them down every day! They're just destroying them!
VicForests are spending a lot of time in court and they still owe outstanding court costs to Environment East Gippsland. The environmental Davids who have been fighting these outstanding battles on our behalf are in need of our financial and political support.
The case began two weeks ago and will be summed up early next week in front of Justice Osborne (who also heard our case). So far it seems to have gone fairly well, with expert witnesses able to present flawless arguments for the protection of the Leadbeaters Possum habitat in the Central Highland’s. Professor David Lindenmayer and Dr Judith Ajani presented the case for the forests and the insane economics of logging. VicForests seemed to have a huge gaggle of barristers and lawyers to argue that if they can’t log the three coupes in contention, then they wouldn’t be able to log 167 other stands of the endangered Leadbeaters habitat. Logging might then be unviable in the Central Highlands.
The Brown Mountain ruling was cited throughout and clearly laid the path for much of this case.
VicForests are again facing the court again on 30th March at Orbost. This one sees the DSE (yes!) prosecute VicForests for illegally logging protected rainforest at Murrungowar just east of Orbost.
EEG sues VicForests again on the 10th April
On the 10th April, Environment East Gippsland is back in the Supreme Court suing VicForests for planning to destroy sites of Rainforest with National Significance. We’ll let you know more details of the trial as we get closer to the date.
VicForests owes EEG outstanding court costs
This month we go into mediation with VicForests in order to retrieve the legal costs back that the court ordered VicForests pay us after the Brown Mountain case almost 18 months ago! If it doesn’t work, we’ll be back in court in March to force the issue.
If you would like to read full details of the Sylvia Creek case, full transcripts will be placed on the My Environment website as they become available. You can read the transcripts of the first three days, in which the case for the plaintiff and VicForests' defence were outlined here.
Please, please follow the recommendations of Jill Redwood and Environment East Gippsland. All of the incredible battles won, rare animals and precious forests will be trashed unless we prevent this new legislation.
Please act ASAP.
This is an interim email while we prepare an East Gippsland forest update.
Most would recall that the Baillieu government, in response to our 2010 court win for Brown Mountain, is set to alter the laws governing protection of rare wildlife. It would allow logging to go ahead regardless of what is found there. We suspect they have their sights set on clearfelling Brown Mountain when this is passed – as pay-back.
For those who can, we are asking people to send comments (submissions) into the DSE opposing this plan in the strongest terms possible. Deadline is close of business on Wednesday 1st Feb. But please don’t put this aside. The sooner the better.
The story in brief:
Our Sept 2010 Brown Mountain Supreme Court win for endangered wildlife has upset the new Baillieu Coalition government - so they are going to change the laws that says they must be protected.
To start with, they are set to change a few words in the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2007 (see below).This Code is a ‘loggers environmental rule book’ of sorts and is part of the legal regime that is meant to ‘protect’ our forests while they are being clearfelled yeah ... I know).
The proposed change will take out ‘must do’ protection for threatened species and their habitat. It will allow the DSE Secretary to approve any and all forests planned for logging regardless of whether endangered wildlife live there. This lacks any transparency or accountability. It basically overrides the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act’s individual Action Statements for species protection.
They are knowingly and deliberately rendering useless, the only part out of the FFG Act that logging had to adhere to (especially since our court win). Quolls, Potoroos, the large owls and gliders would all have their home ranges or large parts of it wiped off the map if the logging industry says it must log those forests. And of course it will.
As part of the protocol for changing these rules, the government has to ask us, the public, what we think.
This is their main planned change:
“Forest management planning and all forestry operations must comply with measures specified in relevant Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act Action Statements (unless determined by the Secretary that the requirements of an Action Statement do not apply) and any Flora and Fauna Guarantee Orders."
If you can let them know what you think about all this, below are some dot points that might give you some ideas to pad out and reword in any order or way you want – and as few or as many points as you want to use.
Send them to: [email protected] headed "Submission to Code change" (or similar). You could also CC it to Baillieu himself so his staff will know what people think as well. [email protected]
Please help deluge the government. Don’t forget. Bung it in your desk or computer’s diary or better still do it now. Let’s see if we can hit them with at least a hundred letters/emails. Five hundred would be even better!
1. This further weakens Victoria’s already weak legal framework for biodiversity protection.
2. Can’t claim wildlife is well protected elsewhere without first doing multiple and thorough surveys in every reserved forest in the state and in every season.
3. The FFGA listed species has already had a scientific committee assess the status and needs of each species. It was agreed that these animals are in danger of disappearing, hence their Action Statement. The secretary must not override these scientific findings.
4. Victoria’s forest dependent threatened wildlife like Quolls and those that need hollow trees are in serious decline mostly due to logging.
5. The past decade of fires has added to Victoria’s forest wildlife’s serious decline .
6. Simply assuming that wildlife can ‘survive and flourish’ (to quote the FFGA) inside the small disjointed reserves is being irresponsible and unscientific.
7. Parks and reserves have historically been declared in areas deemed unnecessary for development or resource extraction, or are of low quality for other uses. This does not always provide the prime habitat needed for many rare species such as gliders and owls.
8. Habitat modelling is not a fool-proof way to protect rare wildlife. They can be found in unpredictable habitats and not found in seemingly suitable areas.
9. There is a very real possibility of wildlife being made extinct in Victoria due to ongoing habitat destruction.
This will have Ted Baillieu’s name on it.
10. There is no credibility in the claim of ‘balancing’ the needs of logging industry and environment. It has been balanced in favour of logging for the past 40 years.
11. Looking after species at a “landscape level” is also rubbish. The species are listed as needing protection for the very reason that they no longer occur “at a landscape level” but in small often isolated patches.
12. The exemption of the logging industry from the FFGA, via the Code is outrageous.
13. The fact that the secretary is unaccountable to anyone in this decision is an outrage. He MUST consult with experts, notify the public of a decision and give reasons and evidence he used. His decisions MUST be able to be scrutinised, reviewed and challenged. To cut out this basic tool of democracy to aid one industry is another outrage.
14. Every forest stand which supports a listed species MUST be left intact and not clearfelled and burnt by VicForests.
15. Baillieu promised his government would restore integrity, transparency and accountability. Let’s see it.
It has been more than two years since Environment East Gippsland began legal action to sue the government’s logging monopoly, VicForests. In August 2009 we applied for an injunction for an immediate stop to logging at Brown Mountain. A year later, on 11 August 2010, the ruling was handed down. We had won our case! This is a report from Environment East Gippsland.
Not only did Environment East Gippsland win the case for Brown Mountain, but we successfully set three major precedents for other community groups:
1. it was the first time any environment group had been granted standing to take the government (or one of its agencies) to court,
2. we were granted an injunction against logging for the first time in Victoria and possibly Australia, and
3. We did not have to provide ‘security’ a type of ‘bond’ incase we lost (VicForests put in what turned out to be a fairly bodgie claim that we should put up $60,000).
The case was set down to be heard in the Sale Court over two weeks, but it stretched out to four weeks through March 2010. Although we were successful, and although the ruling should alter the way VicForests and the government looks after public forests, we are still seeing them disregard the same laws and regulations over which they were sued. Their reasoning? The ruling technically only applied to Brown Mountain. So if we want to show that the law applies across the state, it might take another court case! They are gambling that we won’t resort to this. But to ensure that any further plans to challenge them are stymied, VicForests is refusing to pay our court costs as ordered. EEG and our lawyers have sent reasonable requests for the money owed. After months of letters, VicForests offered us HALF of our costs! This insult means that the case will now be handed over to official auditors to draw up the bill of costs and if not paid, it heads back to the court. More costs and more time wasting.
Left in limbo
Brown Mountain’s 600 year old trees are still firmly in the ground but remain like a ‘hole in a donut’, surrounded by reserved forest and National Park. Despite its values having been well and truly proven in court, it is still mapped as a logging zone and under the control of VicForests. The surveys ordered by the court have not been carried out. We suspect they see this area as symbolic of the battle between ‘government and greenies’. We saw the length and cost the DSE went to in order to gut the heart from Goolengook’s forests. Let’s hope they are simply cooling their heels rather than plotting its annihilation. Being legally trounced by EEG must have hurt. We know that the 1995 Forest Management Plan is considered redundant and in need of rewriting, and we know there are plans of weakening the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act; both documents helped our court win.
Pre (or Pro)-logging surveys
One outcome of the court case is that VicForests have set up very poorly funded Mickey Mouse pre-logging surveys in some forests. Consultants are hired that employ others to carry out wildlife surveys for some species. The consultants are given minimal time and resources, making the results totally invalid. We are currently applying under Freedom of Information to obtain details of these survey methods and results.
VicForests hired Chela Powell, a young forester with a PhD on the study of beetles in blue gum plantations. They call her their ‘conservation biologist’. She devised some survey methods that seem to us to explain how to look for certain animals in the wrong forests and then frighten them away with the wrong methods. VicForests also decides which forests might be deemed worthy of a survey. It is they who decide if a stand of forest is old growth, and it is they who give themselves the option of including forests that might be considered to be High Conservation Value (HCV). We have reason to suspect that they are doing pre-logging surveys in about half of the old growth they should, and almost no HCV, as this one is optional. There are some low quality forests surveyed that will most likely result in no finds. We also know they have logged old growth forest since the court ruling and are also clearfelling Potoroo habitat where their own contracted survey teams discovered them!
What does this all mean on the ground?
The legal finding for Brown Mountain should mean that logging agencies and land managers have to be cautious in regards to the possible existence of threatened species where they plan to destroy or alter their habitat. This can be extrapolated to every other forest, meaning cautionary management must be shown (as in the Precautionary Principle, much debated to in court) when planning to destroy or modify likely habitats of threatened species. This could include areas in which the DSE plans to carry out roading or prescribed burns, as well as clearfell logging. DSE is stating this isn’t the case, but provides no explanation. Surveys should happen across all forests – regardless of their age or conservation value. But it’s not.
VicForests have a few options:
· Honour this ruling and pay for decent, credible surveys in every planned logging coupe. Don’t log where rare species exist.
· Honour this ruling but do the cheapest possible ineffective surveys that cover minimal forest areas.
· Accept that the logging industry and its shrinking markets are in terminal decline and wind down operations to suit.
· Influence the revision of the Forest Management Plan to remove prescriptions to protect rare wildlife.
· Push to have the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act watered down to make current mandatory actions ambiguous or ‘flexible’.
Greg Barber, MP for the Greens, asked a question of the then ALP Environment Minister the day after the September judgement. Minister Jennings said he would honour the decision. The Shadow Minister for the environment, Liberal member Mary Wooldridge, also promised to honour the court ruling. Now that a Liberal-National party is in Government, we see a clear attempt to take no action while planning changes of environmental legislation.
The court ruling
It was August11 and everyone stood as Justice Robert Osborne entered and took his seat. Throughout the March case, he always seemed to have a quizzical, bemused look on his face as he bowed to us on entering and leaving. Again he bowed and so did we. We had been anxiously waiting months for this moment. He began to read his findings. The court room booked for the judgement had to be changed to accommodate the one or two hundred supporters. When Liz and I walked into the upstairs gallery there was a sea of friendly faces and standing room only. In one corner was a very small huddle of grey suits representing VicForests.
Our hearts sank to the floor as he acknowledged some points which VicForests had made, and our points on the crayfish and kite that weren’t strong. But then he uttered the word “Nevertheless ...” and our hearts jumped back into place as we anticipated his next words. Basically he told VicForests that they can’t log the old growth forests of Brown Mountain until VicForests had:
1) put in place protection zones for the Potoroo in three of the four planned logging coupes,
2) had qualified people survey in the correct season for Giant Burrowing and Large Brown Tree Frogs as well as the Spot-tailed Quoll, in all four coupes,
3) created a 100 ha zone to protect the gliders of coupe 15 and,
4) reviewed the protection measures offered to Powerful and Sooty Owls in East Gippsland.
But he didn’t go far enough to say they must do this to the satisfaction of the court, only to the satisfaction of the Director of Biodiversity Policy and Programs within DSE. That was the weak point.
He also ordered that we:
· give DSE copies of all photographic evidence we have of the presence of the Long-footed Potoroo in the area (our lawyers told us not to provide this once the case had started); and
· show DSE the precise location of where one of the Potoroo images was captured as used in our evidence by one of the surveyors.
Our lawyers argued that a ‘compliance in an unsupervised fashion’ and a ‘self-executing injunction is not appropriate’ given VicForests’ past record of strong resistance to compliance and an ‘ineffective regulator’ (DSE). They said that the history of this matter showed that there was no transparency or honest dialogue from DSE/VicForests towards EEG.
However the judge claimed it shouldn’t need to go back to court for tick-off when there’s already a DSE statutory framework in place to resolve habitat protection (which we just proved wasn’t working). As DSE wasn’t part of the dispute, he considered them as apart from it. But we showed they were as good as compliant with VicForests’ refusal to properly protect the wildlife. Still, if given the legally correct reserves, these logging coupes should all receive protection, even if vulnerable to being moved and swapped as Special Protection Zones.
To ensure proper transparency, Justice Osborn ruled that VicForests should give EEG:
· relatively detailed maps of the protection zones for the Potoroos and owls within 14 days of their creation.
· details of any survey results of the Giant Burrowing Frog, Large Brown Tree Frog and Spot-tailed Quoll.
· 28 days notice in writing of plans to log any of the four coupes.
 Editor: "Standing" is the legal right to initiate a law suit. Yes, if you thought that anyone could initiate (via a lawyer) or as themselves, a complaint of a failure to abide by regulations or laws in an Act, think again. Usually this right is very much reserved, with the effect of protecting vested interests and specialists. Not only did EEG set a precedent in getting standing, but I think they set a precedent in using the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1986 in court! I believe that no action had previously ever been made using its powers!
Radio program on the law and forests, featuring Jill Redwood and Slater and Gordon lawyer. Register for the Forests Forever Ecology Camp 22nd-25th April. How Japanese disasters have impacted on woodchipping industry.
The Law is an ass, especially with forests
This Sunday at 5pm, Radio National’s Big Ideas program will be featuring Jill Redwood, of Environment East Gippsland and Peter Gordon (ex from Slater and Gordon) talking about the ‘law is an ass’. Gregg Borschmann hosted the interview and used Brown Mountain and the laws on forests in general to highlight what Peter was saying.
Forests Forever Ecology camp, East Gippsland forest
Forests Forever places are filling up, so please make sure you don’t leave it until the last week – which is usually when we have to close bookings. See attached flier and info. Give me a call or email if you’d like to book and pay directly into EEG’s bank acct. [email protected] (This address is as good as my personal email at EEG for those who have wondered).
David Cameron, one of Australia’s leading rainforest botanists, will again be the highlight of the weekend with his fascinating talks and walks. Please print out the attached flier and post it up somewhere if you can (or send to friends). This is our annual fundraiser for Environment East Gippsland.
Forests Forever Easter Ecology Camp
22nd – 25th April 2011
Spend Easter in the heart of East Gippsland’s forests.
Camp by the Brodribb River with like-minded people at night and be guided by expert biologists during the day. Be awed by 600 year old forests and the diversity of a pristine rainforest. Discover how forests are vital for climate calming, and spotlight for nocturnal wildlife. Learn wildlife survey techniques or take an organic farm tour. Visit Brown Mountain’s old growth forests which were successfully protected with a Supreme Court case last year. Then be inspired to help save our forests.
$60 for adults ($35 conc), $20 a day ($15 conc). Please book early as numbers are limited. All proceeds go to help save these forests. For more details and information visit www.eastgippsland.net.au or email [email protected] or phone Jill on (03) 5154 0145
Woodchips and other disasters
The Japanese earthquake and tsunami have impacted on export woodchips. The Gunns mill at Triabunna in Tasmania has said it will halt operations for the next 8 weeks. It has been closing other mills as well (see below). With the high Aussie dollar and a slow down of woodchip imports into Japan, the world market is a little full with boat loads of woodchips looking for a buyer.
URGENT: Please lend your support by attending at Supreme Court to Victorian Government prosecution of Brown Mountain protesters. Tomorrow, Wednesday at 10:00am, (10 November 2010) the Department of Sustainability and Environment will proceed with its prosecution of the individuals charged with protesting at Brown Mountain. meet outside the Magistrates’ Court at 9:15am, corner of Williams and Lonsdale Street Melbourne. I will be there to meet you and direct you to the relevant Court room. This is a political cause of deepest importance. The Victorian Government and the ALP's involvement in forest crimes goes back years. The forest protesters are our bravest democratic and environmental activists. We must support them for all that they do for the rest of us.
Wednesday 10 November - stand up for justice
Today, Wednesday at 10:00am, (10 November 2010) the Department of Sustainability and Environment will proceed with its prosecution of the individuals charged with protesting at Brown Mountain.
Although Bleyer Lawyers, acting for the individuals, invited DSE to withdraw the charges given the Supreme Court of Victoria restrained VicForests from logging at Brown Mountain, the Department is pressing on with the prosecutions of those charged before the outcome of the Supreme Court case.
We would be grateful if you could lend your support to the individuals who have been arrested for protecting Brown Mountain and attend Court tomorrow.
If you are able to attend, please meet outside the Magistrates’ Court at 9:15am, corner of Williams and Lonsdale Street Melbourne. I will be there to meet you and direct you to the relevant Court room.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries.
Sophie Bird - Lawyers for Forests - M 0414 985 728
ALSO – LEGAL UPDATE IN FITZROY ON THURSDAY @ 7pm
A reminder that the launch of the legal guide for forest activist is being held this Thursday, 11 November 2010 at the Marquis of Lorne, Corner Kerr and George Street, Fitzroy. Please disseminate the invitation to your networks. At this stage we plan to have an update on the Tas and Vic negotiation, a chat about upcoming campaign events and a legal update.
We hope to see you there (see attachment).
Sophie Bird - Lawyers for Forests
AND LASTLY a fund raiser this Saturday 13th Nov at Rye Beach.
FOREST FUNDRAISER FOR ENVIRONMENT EAST GIPSLAND AND SAVE THE PINES
OUR WILDLIFE IS CRYING OUT FOR YOUR HELP
COME AND SUPPORT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HAVE DEDICATED THEIR LIVES TO THE PROTECTION OF OUR STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL BUSH LIKE BROWN MOUNTAIN AND WESTERFIELDS AT:
ST ANDREWS REC CLUB HALL
99 BASS MEADOWS BLVD
ST ANDREWS BEACH (RYE BACK BEACH)
3 CLASSIC LOCAL BANDS :
· KING BAT AND
ON SATURDAY 13 TH OF NOVEMBER 2010
7PM- 12PM BYO
COME AND CELEBRATE ENVIRONMENT EAST GIPSLAND’S COURT CASE WIN AND FIND OUT WHAT THIS MEANS FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTION. HEAR ABOUT THE BATTLE TO SAVE THE NORTHERN PENINSULA BUSHLAND.
COME AND ENJOY A GREAT NIGHT AT THE REC CLUB WITH OTHER PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT OUR MAGNIFICENT ECOSYSTEMS.
FOR MORE INFO CALL MARK ON 59822046 (or see attachment)
The ALP’s 2006 election promise was to protect ‘the last significant stands of old growth planned for logging’. But environment groups say that most of what has recently been identified for protecton was either in existing protection zones, had already been logged or was degraded forest unwanted for logs or woodchips anyway.
For at least the third time, the Government today announced the new additions to the reserve system in East Gippsland. The ALP’s 2006 election promise was to protect ‘the last significant stands of old growth planned for logging’.
But environment groups say that most of what has been protected was either in existing protection zones, had already been logged or was degraded forest unwanted for logs or woodchips anyway.
“We’re pleased some areas of old growth have been put into National Park, but they account for only about one quarter to a third of what the state government is claiming has been saved from logging”, said Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland.
"The government is to be praised on its clever recycling of protected zones back into protected zones, and logged forest into National Park. It’s mostly been a creative game of swaps.”
“However the protection of Yalmy’s forests and Goolengook’s magnificent old growth and rainforest is very welcome, despite Goolengook’s heart having been logged out.”
“The areas have taken four years to be finalised, while DSE accommodated the logging industry’s demands over this election promise. Meanwhile thousands of hectares of old growth and mature forests were clearfelled in the interim. Like an extinct species, they will never return.”
“This includes forests at Brown Mountain, which had recognised old growth values and supported endangered wildlife. If the government didn’t consider Brown Mountain ‘significant old growth’ it shows how many other equally magnificent forests have been condemned to clearfelling.”
“The new parks announcement today is at least a start."
For comment: Jill Redwood (03) 5154 0145
Source: MEDIA RELEASE, "Government recycles announcements and logged forest,"Friday 1st October 2010
Environment East Gippsland Inc
(6800 Bonang Rd Goongerah)
Locked Bag 3,
ORBOST Vic 3888
Congratulations Jill Redwood, leader of Environment East Gippsland! In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court has found that the government has a responsibility to look for and protect endangered wildlife before logging in the contentious Brown Mountain forests of East Gippsland. “This judgment has implications for all native forests that are set to be destroyed by logging,” said EEG spokesperson Jill Redwood. “If we hadn’t sued VicForests, Brown Mountain would have been illegally logged by now. And Brown Mountain is just one area. The government is logging publicly owned forests every day without endangered species surveys.” EEG Website for more updates
To find out more about the history of this battle, which has demanded so much courage and committment from people like Jill Redwood and those who fight with her, see the section: Brown Mountain in Candobetter
Landmark decision enforces law to defend animals and trees
In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court has found that the government has a responsibility to look for and protect endangered wildlife before logging in the contentious Brown Mountain forests of East Gippsland.
“This judgment has implications for all native forests that are set to be destroyed by logging,” said EEG spokesperson Jill Redwood.
Decision shows the battle was just and necessary
“If we hadn’t sued VicForests, Brown Mountain would have been illegally logged by now. And Brown Mountain is just one area. The government is logging publicly owned forests every day without endangered species surveys.”
“We are calling on the government to respect the judgment by stopping logging in native forests that may contain rare wildlife, until the full implications of this judgment are examined.”
“VicForests, the Government-owned logging monopoly, has a legal responsibility to protect endangered wildlife. They can’t just go in and log blindfolded.”
“Victorians have always known native forest logging is immoral, uneconomic, unaccountable, unsustainable and unpopular. Today we’ve proved that where endangered species are present, or likely to be present, it’s potentially illegal as well”.
Will the Victorian Government try to defy the courts as well as the law now?
“This extraordinary court case isn’t just about protecting Brown Mountain’s rich and ancient ark of rare wildlife; it’s about forcing the government to abide by its laws as anyone else would”, said Ms Redwood.
“This represents a win for the state’s rare forest dependent wildlife. It’s also a win for all Australians who are concerned about the environment.”
Next danger may be Government attempt to change laws to suit itself
Environment groups are now concerned that the government may attempt to alter the laws to allow the destruction of endangered species habitat, as happened in Tasmania in 2008.
“The government must now honour the law, not alter it”, said Ms Redwood.
Forest supporters will gather at Victorian parliament tomorrow at 1pm, to ask the Environment Minister, Shadow Environment Minister and Greens for their response to the judgment.
Environment East Gippsland is to hold its inaugural Melbourne meeting next week. 6pm Wednesday 12th of May, 2nd Floor, Kindness House, 288 Brunswick St, between Victoria St and Johnston St. We’ve been planning this since the Easter Ecology Camp so come join in with your fellow tree huggers.
Facilitator/s, minute taker appointed
Introductions & Updates.
Supreme Court Case - Judgement Day.
Promoting the forests solution in the climate and water debates.
Media stories for Melbourne.
Local papers or MX style stories.
Stories that connect Melbourne communities and forests
Call for a 40% tax on logging companies profits as well?
Letter writing -
Your local pollies
State and Federal Ministers
Your power company – would they sell incinerated owls with their electricity?
Young’ns for Old Growth
DVD production and/or YouTube clip – forests and climate etc
RAW Files – Photoshop work.
Fundraising ideas –
Card sales – Christmas retailers
Art show and auction
Brown Mt Wine - see below
community benefit card
Stalls and Events
eBay auctions or garage sale
Skills and resources list
Light nibblies supplied but feel free to bring a dip or a couple of tomatoes.
Please RSVP to [email protected]
A new you-tube film about the forest protectors' camp and community at Goongerah, South East Gippsland, near Brown Mountain...
A group of forest-warriors in East Gippsland
There is an interesting new you-tube film just published about the people who fight to protect our forests from VicForests, the Government loggers for woodchips. A group of them are located at Goongerah. The film is called "AVATAR at Errinundra Plateau Brown Mountain, East Gippsland.m4v."
Giselle Wilkinson ("Gisellebluepearl") made the film to reach a few more people and help catalyse a bit of extra support for the ongoing battles and particularly for the current legal battle, for which we still don't have the result yet.
"Gisellebluepearl — March 22, 2010 — Come to the Errinundra Plateau, East Gippsland. Visit the home of the forest defenders and the ancient old growth forest they're protecting. The old growth forests of Victoria have been logged for wood chip for years - over 90% is gone forever. Some trees are over 10 metres in girth and a tree stump left behind after loggers was carbon dated to be over 600 years old. The little that's left needs our urgent protection. Brown Mountain is earmarked for logging this year again. For more info go to: www.eastgippsland.net.au; www.goongerah.org.au; www.geco.org.au
GECO is an independent grassroots environment organisation based in East Gippsland. It is dedicated to protecting the remaining old growth forests of the region. There are updates of film-documented recent forest loggings and protests.
The Angel on the tripod
At the end of the film we see the picture above which looks like a Victory Angel protecting and personifying the forest, high in the canopy, appearing larger than human.
I had to make inquiries to find out who it was and what it was all about. The woman with the wings was Allana Beltran, who is a visual artist and the forest is in the lower Weld Valley in Southern Tasmanian forest. Here she met Ben Morrow, a tree sitter who was to become her partner. The photo is probably by photographer Matthew Newton, but I had to look far and wide on the web, where there are many copies, for any reference to the photographer, which I found here: http://slingshot.tao.ca/displaybi.php?0096003">Lilia Letch, "Resistance everywhere - eco-defense in Tasmania," in Slingshot.
In November 2006 the forest camp where Morrow and Beltran were living in was raided by police ahead of a logging company's arrival. In March, only three protesters remained, according to the Tasmania Times:
'One man was locked onto the gate at one of the entrances to the forest. Another man, Ben Morrow, was hanging in a sling off the bridge over the Weld River. Seven kilometres from him, Alanna Beltran was attached to a giant tripod at a second entrance to the forest. She had a long white curtain wrapped around her waist, white body paint on her face and was wearing wings of white cockatoo feathers that she’d scavanged from the shorelines and forest floor. She’d become the “Weld Angel,” the “Angel of the Forest,” and her haunting image was about to enter Tasmanian folklore.
"Allana Beltran and two years ago she walked into the lower Weld Valley in Tasmania’s southern forests and experienced what can only be described as a life-changing epiphany. In front of her was a wilderness of ancient, towering trees, deep gorges and waterfalls, and a wild river flowing through it. On an adjacent ridge there was a different scene. It was the blackened ruins of a recently clearfelled tract of native forest.
“It was the most horrific devastation of land I had ever seen in my life,” the visual artist from Sydney told Vanity Fair recently. “And from that moment on my heart was with the people who were standing up for places like this.”
Allana Beltran decided to stay in these forests and join the group of protesters trying to save it from further logging. That’s when she met Ben Morrow, the man who would soon become her partner. He’d been in the valley for six months, much of it spent 50 to 60 metres up in a grey-trunked eucalypt, in what’s called a `tree-sit,’ on the lookout for loggers.
“Our camp was in the middle of the road that changed from clearfell to wilderness,” Beltran says now from her home in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. “There was 100 ha of clearfelling and they wanted to bulldoze a road another two and a half kilometres in so they could access 2000 ha. This was all old growth forest surrounded by World Heritage Area.”
In November 2006 the camp was raided by police as the logging company moved into build the new stretch of road. Twenty-five protesters were arrested. By March, the beginning of the Australian autumn, the blockade had virtually collapsed with only three protesters left standing between the chainsaws and the forests.
Although not exactly standing. One man was locked onto the gate at one of the entrances to the forest. Another man, Ben Morrow, was hanging in a sling off the bridge over the Weld River. Seven kilometres from him, Alanna Beltran was attached to a giant tripod at a second entrance to the forest. She had a long white curtain wrapped around her waist, white body paint on her face and was wearing wings of white cockatoo feathers that she’d scavanged from the shorelines and forest floor. She’d become the “Weld Angel,” the “Angel of the Forest,” and her haunting image was about to enter Tasmanian folklore.
“I did it because I thought it would look beautiful,” she says now matter-of-factly, “and if I was going to be arrested as a visual artist, I wanted to make a visual statement.”
Beltran sat in her forest aerie for nine and a half hours listening through headphones to Tibetan monk music, as the police ordered her down through megaphones. “I was praying for the forests and for people to realise what they are doing. I was ready to sacrifice myself to this cause. I was ready to stand up for these ancient forests.”"
New Potoroos detected - in bunch of planned logging coupes – in fact a fairly outrageous cluster of 6 in an area enviro groups were negotiating for protection in the upper Yalmy River catchment last year.
Amazing new footage via remote camera
There are more clips on you-tube, but this clip number one is the best. The other three show it gathering the dry fern fronds and grass and tucking it under its belly into its curled tail - quite amazing footage captured by remote cameras and never before seen in the wild. It’s new behaviour that was previously unknown. Volunteer surveyor, Andy, has written a report which is now with the relevant authorities and Ministers. Response has been to ask for the entire footage from the camera again (as in pre-court case shenanigans) to be able to verify that the footage hasn’t been doctored or something (?!).
Something like 14 separate Potoroo images were taken over a 3-4 week period in this area of forest! They now only score a 50 ha protection zone, but with the two sites and a Potoroo skull found, DSE/VicForests should protect the entire block of forest from logging.
VicForests whole of landscape obliteration plans for Victoria's forests
These people are supposed to be working for us!
And while speaking of ‘never before seen’ phenomena – VicForests logging plans have been amended to include 24 coupes in the Big River and St Patricks River junction just to the sth west of Mt Ellery and Errinundra Nat park (west of Goolengook). These coupes are in a mass block shoulder to shoulder, again in an area mapped for protection by enviro groups while negotiating old growth and High Conservation Value (HCV) forests for protection. This is whole of landscape obliteration and appears to be deliberate targeting – or a major mapping error! It’s also in a Potoroo and Spot-tailed Quoll Special Management Zone! Closing date for submissions and comments were yesterday.
Forests Forever Ecology Camp
Forests Forever Ecology camp – a fantastic event again over Easter. Rainforests, old growth, (sadly, too much of it logged) and of course Brown Mountain all featured. If people want to visit Brown Mt on their own at any time, grab the booklet from the EEG website and take yourself in there. http://www.eastgippsland.net.au/?q=node/265 then click on the bottom button to download the booklet as a PDF. EEG have now tracked into a beautiful new stand of giants around a magical glade. They than all the FF camp helpers, and especially Robyn and John.
New EEG Branch in Melbourne soon
A new EEG branch in Melb is being set up to help facilitate campaign work down there. EEG will let supporters know when and where the first meeting will be.
Importance of EEG's work reflected in massive response in donations from public
Over 700 donors have helped pay EEG's legal fees so far. This is phenomenal support that even some bigger groups can’t manage. EEG still could need more donations as the case was twice as long as anticipated and ended up with more expert witnesses than first thought. All were needed to try and secure a win for the forests.
If you want to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the financial year – think about making this it! And if you want to donate, why not buy a beautiful Brown Mt card as a gift in exchange for your donation. See website here for details #10;<p>If you’d like to donate specifically to help buy more survey gear like cameras ($400) or 6v gel cell batteries to run the cameras ($30) or fuel to help run the car to go out with survey eqpt (any amount) or a new-fandangled weatherproof sound recorder that can be trained to pick up only endangered frogs etc ($800), then by all means let EEG know. </p> <p>There are various options for donating – PayPal via website, another secure system (if you don’t like PayPal), direct deposit (email me for details) or cheque via old fashioned envelope and stamp method.</p> </body></html>">
A new you-tube film about the forest protectors' camp and community at Goongerah, South East Gippsland, near Brown Mountain. The long trial for the wildife on Brown Mountain has come to an end - all except the final decision by Justice Osborn, which all await with baited breath. This is a land-mark trial where real-life avatars have come out and opposed the 160 year old treatment of Victoria's forests and animals as colonial spoils for the taking and Victorians as mere servants to the State.
Read inside a fascinating summary of the arguments and evidence from either side: Vic Forests (for logging) and Environment East Gippsland Inc. (for nature). Revelatory of Department of Environment and Sustainability.
Court case finishes – summary of the final 3 days.
The final days of summing up both VicForests’ and Environment East Gippsland’s arguments were heard in the Melb Supreme Court on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (23rd-25th March). These were the last submissions presented to Justice Osborn who heard the 17 day trial that started on the 1st March.
Both sides presented their condensed arguments from the past 3 weeks. Early in the case, the economic claims were not allowed as VicForests (VF) had not made any allegations in its defence about economic impact, and there was only summary evidence supplied by VF, without details. The arguments focused on the laws covering protection of threatened species and how VF did or didn’t abide by them. Justice Osborn has reserved his decision . Our legal team have said he could hand this down in a month or two or three ...
Despite some fairly revealing and insightful evidence being given and some quite startling information to come out of cross examination of witnesses, the decision will be looking at the complexities of the laws governing forests and wildlife management.
A new you-tube film about the forest protectors' camp and community at Goongerah, South East Gippsland, near Brown Mountain.../files/Brown-Mt-Supporters-in-Melb-for-trial-.jpg" vspace="13" hspace="13" align="left">
A support team of about 45 people attended the Melbourne start of the case to show that there was widespread interest in Brown Mountain. Thanks everyone who came along and who sat through the proceedings.
1st Day (Tues) – the defence (VicForests) lawyers had the stage on day 1 and delivered their case.
To those who hadn’t heard the facts, arguments and cross examinations of the previous 3 weeks, it could have sounded fairly reasonable and even worrying. Read our responses to their arguments below. VF lawyers’ arguments consisted of the following:
* EEG didn’t have standing to take the case to court as we are too small a group, don’t have a special interest in Brown Mountain, only an emotional or intellectual interest. The fact that we didn’t apply to be on the local Shire environment committee, and the claim that we didn’t take part in the Nat Estate study on 1990 – (but we actually did) and various other arguments were used to attempt to argue we shouldn’t be able to sue VicForests.
* It was DSE that should have looked out for threatened species, not VicForests. VF can’t change zonings.
* The Potoroo wasn’t ‘detected’ within the meaning of the action statement (FFG Act) - although the animals and the sites were confirmed, the full two weeks of footage was withheld by EEG (under instruction from our lawyers) until late 2009 – making the authorities suspicious of possible tampering and was the reason given by VF for not protecting the area.
* Language in the FFG Act and Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act, is not enforceable.
* VF noted that the Forest Management Plan was out of date (ended in 2006), which generated much discussion. Justice Osborn pointed out that if it was no longer applicable, then all logging in EG was illegal as the FM Plan is needed before forest can be logged. That point was then quickly resolved.
* The Precautionary Principle, which was a major argument in the whole case. It was first claimed by VF not to give rise to any legally enforceable obligation against it, and even if it did, VF claimed it had observed the PP even if it wasn’t thought to be regarded as enough precaution.
* VF claim Potoroo wasn’t ‘detected’ to their or DSE’s satisfaction,
* On Quolls - there are 75 already protected in EG and that was enough,
* For the new species of crayfish – it’s still being named and so doesn’t have a prescription for protection and the 100 metre buffer around the creek will protect it
* Sooty and Powerful Owls – only dusk calls detected but no confirmed nesting or roosting sites so no need to protect. Plus there are enough Sooty Owls Management Areas and Powerful Owl Management Areas, despite some evidence from DSE suggesting the protection zone targets had not been reached.
* Giant Burrowing Frogs – even if it is high quality and likely habitat, none have yet been detected.
* Hollow Bearing Trees – logging prescriptions are claimed to look after them.
* Gliders are there in high numbers, yes - but it’s not for VF to protect them and 100 mts along creek should do anyway.
* The Precautionary Principle requires caution, but not total infallibility. Actions to express adherence to the PP can be many. VF argued that a 100 metre buffer along the creek was caution enough for all the species.
2nd day of summing up (Wed) –EEG, the plaintiff’s case was presented.
Debbie Mortimer SC argued that:
* The standards and conditions in the FFG Act Action Statements, Forest Management Plan and the Code of Forest Practices hasn’t been and can’t be complied with by VicForests.
* VicForests was the “agent of harm” about to begin clearfelling when we applied for the first injunction, and VF was as obliged to adhere to the law for threatened wildlife as was DSE.
* VF don’t need to have DSE declare a conservation zone for VF to adhere to the law or decide not to log.
* The Allocation Order (giving forests to VicForests from DSE), Timber Release Plan and the Code (for logging) all mention adhering to the Forest Management Plan.
* The issue of whether EEG has legal standing to bring the case to court was argued well for showing we did have standing. It had not been objected to by VF strongly before we embarked on the 17 day trial.
* If various surveys had not have been carried out (owls, Gliders, Crayfish and Potoroos), the court case would not have commenced. Surveys show a genuine interest.
* Obligation on VF are mandatory – they don’t allow them to ‘duck and weave’ around these obligations.
* The main law is the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act – it deals directly with Threatened Species, and binds the state/crown to protect endangered wildlife. The FM Plan and the Code both refer to it.
* Forests are a community property. Managed for common good into future. DSE’s position in the evidence given by Lee Meizis was that the Timber Release Plan gave ownership of forests to VF to exploit, but with the right to exploit comes responsibilities for conservation.
* FFG Act has strong ‘must do’ language and is imposed on government authorities. Important objectives of FFGA disregarded by VF. Action Statements within the FFGA are enforceable.
* Debbie Mortimer said “In every way, VicForests pushed away from its conservation duties” to benefit its access to forests for logging.
* VF is not abiding by the law by merely reading the Action Statements.
* Logging high quality Quoll habitat is endangering the animal’s survival. At odds with the Precautionary Principle because this species is only found at a functional level in East Gippsland now.
* Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act directly forced VF to adhere to the Code. Allocation Order also states VF MUST comply with CFP, PP, AS and FMP.
* Not complying with the Code was a breach. Acts refer to the Code being adhered to.
* VF must consider advice from relevant experts in Flora and Fauna. The advice of these internal DSE experts were ‘completely sidelined’ during the process that lead to the decision to clearfell Brown Mountain. It was also claimed that the Minister was not given important information on these species.
* The 100 mt buffer offered by VF would not protect the Gliders, Quoll, owls, Potoroo and Large Brown Tree Frog and was unknown if it would adequately protect the Giant Burrowing Frog, Brown Mt Crayfish and Square-tailed Kite. Leaving additional large trees while logging and burning the remainder would be unlikely to protect the habitat values of hollow bearing trees (85 out of 207 was all that survived the logged and burnt coupe across the creek in April 2009).
* The guideline to protect 100 ha for rich populations of gliders is self-regulating and doesn’t need major fuss – just needs to be mapped and complied with.
* Justice Osborn discussed decent reserve designs and ‘whacking in’ some reserve along the creek.
* The oft-cited ‘risk-weighted consequences’ of the precautionary principle the VF lawyers used daily, does not mention social or economic ‘balance’ and in context is only about conservation risks and consequences.
* We are dealing with some species in a demonstrable state of decline. Failure to halt damage is serious. There is lack of scientific certainty as there is no research or info on impact of logging.
* New reserves mean nothing unless we assess the quality and type of the habitat, logging history etc.
* BHP was used as an example of a company which must employ specialist ecologists/biologists if it plans to carry out potentially damaging work. VF either needs to employ biodiversity staff, or get in consultants to survey and advise forest planning.
* Potoroo detections 100% authentic – no questioning by VF of witnesses – fully accepted, yet despite 3 verified detections, VF made no attempt to consult with DSE biologists or protect 50 ha for each as stated in the FFGA.
* DSE set up its own ‘rules’ outside of existing legislation.
* DM asked for full injunction to logging.
Day 3 – Thursday – response from Defendant (VF)
* Having to abide by the SFT Act could mean that every logger, truckie, contractor, roading operator must comply with these laws as well. Does that mean every worker has to set up a biodiversity unit and consult biologists?
* Argues again, it’s all DSE’s responsibility.
* Argues that the words for Greater Glider protection in the FMP says “approximately 100 ha” is unenforceable – how much is ‘approximately’?
* VicForests Lawyers couldn’t find any expert biologists to speak for them. They tried.
* Not being given the entire potoroo footage was the whole problem.
* The 400 ha reserve to the (drier, steeper) west is a benefit for all the species.
* Crays were found in the creek next to a previously logged forest so therefore they can survive OK.
* Potoroo no 2 (on camera) wasn’t used in original evidence (it was actually discovered after writ was served but this was overlooked by VF lawyers).
* The hair tube evidence of the Potoroo near proposed coupe 19 didn’t come with a copy of the note when it was sent off for analysis – so how do we know where it really was?
Final Judgement awaits
This ended the long trial for the wildlife of Brown Mountain. We await Justice Osborn’s final decision ...
Our supporters have been showing astonishing determination to have our forests and wildlife protected! We’ve hit our first minimum target which is really something for a small enviro group. But due to the case having gone for 16-17 days when it was only down for a 10 day hearing, we are still needing some help to cover the extra costs for this time in court with our team, a couple of extra witnesses and various associated costs.
Source of this article was "[EnvEastGipp] Brown Mt Detailed Update, 29 March 2010" , almost verbatim, but without all the photos. The website for Environment East Gippsland is here.
After months of preparation, our legal team and supporters have gathered in Sale and begun the two-week Brown Mountain landmark trial.
Everything is going very well so far. It's difficult to report on a hearing that is in progress, particularly since we are the plaintiff, so this article might lack a few things.
Our lead barrister, Debbie Mortimer SC, spent Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in Court outlining what we say are the facts and the law, in a fascinating opening submission.
She spoke about the beautiful native wildlife that is central to our case, and the Court was treated to large pictures of the critters. It was almost surreal, but quite appropriate in our view, to see a team of lawyers in black gowns and wigs defending the furry, the feathered, the cray and the frog.
She said that VicForests has a number of legal responsibilities towards the environment, including endangered species, and that those responsibilities are inconsistent with logging at Brown Mountain.
For a more detailed summary of the first day's hearing, read this excellent article by The Age journalist Kate Hagen, who is attending the hearing #10;h.html">Click here
Journalists from ABC Radio and Win TV (channel 9) are also attending the hearings.
VicForests' lead barrister Ian Waller SC started outlining VicForests' case this afternoon. When Court adjourned today, he said he still had about an hour to go, so we haven't got the full picture yet.
But generally speaking he contended that VicForests' responsibility to the environment wasn't anywhere near as strong as we made out, and was balanced by its requirement to create economic and social benefits. He said that, to the extent to which VicForests has responsibilities to the environment and native wildlife, it has fulfilled them.
Judge and Legal teams in the field
On Wednesday, Justice Osborn and the legal teams were having a look at Brown Mountain first hand. It's not just a bushwalk, though; they will observe first hand some places and concepts about forests, logging and post-logging practices that will later on be discussed in Court.
On Thursday morning, VicForests' opening submissions is expected to finish, then Environment East Gippsland will bring out our witnesses.
Court is open to the public. You are welcome to attend if you are in Sale - there have been a few people sitting quietly in the public area. If you drop in, please come up and say hello.
The big court case between
Environment East Gippsland (EEG) and
the Victorian Government finally begins on Monday at 1.30pm at the Sale Court House.
The media will be there at 1pm and it would be really great it if everyone who is able to be there is as well.
Democracy and justice are crucial in this case, and the more observers the better, to see justice done or to bring back a warning to Victorians if it is not done.
Anyone is welcome to attend and observe the proceedings at any time during the proceedings. In fact, people are encouraged to come along to any of the sitting days (excluding Wed 3rd March and Mon 8th March) over the two weeks.
The recent Auditor General's Report on the incompetence of the Victorian Government's wildlife statistics collection and maintenance mean that the Victorian government could not logically have the authority to make decisions about sustainable forestry where local fauna habitat is affected, in the opinion of this candobetter.org writer and environmental sociologist. Because of this, it seems to me that Environment East Gippsland has clearly won its case in advance. It will take years, decades, maybe half a century for the Victorian government to repair its statistical collection. But will the judges be aware of just how bad the government's information is? We have to make sure that they do by making this information so well-known that it cannot be avoided. So please pass the link to the Auditor General's report around.
Brown Mountain Court Case
Environment East Gippsland's (EEG) lawyers are working overtime getting the case and expert witness reports prepared for the court case which starts in just over 4 weeks. It will be at the Sale County Court (Supreme Court does regional hearing). EEG people have been offered some accomodation but could probably use more.
The case could blow out to over the two weeks set aside for it. The forest-related Acts can be complex so loads of paperwork needs to generated. EEG volunteers are still flat chat trying to raise more funds to ensure they can cover the immediate costs. Meanwhile Brown Mountain’s wildlife is getting around the old growth forests in peace. Volunteers are still maintaining spy cameras trying to get more critters on film.
Arrests of Wildlife Warriors
The summer season for protesting by our very own Avatars in old growth logging areas is happening with 5-6 brave and ethical people arrested on summons so far. The forests being targeted have been up in the Bonang River headwaters on the Errinundra Plateau. Currently between 20-30 people at the
camp here in Goongerah. VicForests response is to say protesters have stopped important machinery from being used for fighting fires. This is untrue.
Could I recommend the film Avatar as an example of what our Wildlife and Forest Warriors in Australia are defending and the forces that seek to destroy it? Brown Mountain, as you can see from the photos, has amazing huge trees and is a different and beautiful world. Searching for economic growth through these limpid havens is like searching for Unobtainium. It is a gross act.
Rob Quantok will donate half profits from regional performance to EEG
The very kind and funny actor, Rod Quantock is holding his “Bugger the Polar Bears – this is serious” show at Warrandyte on Sat 20th Feb 7.30. Bless him!
Half the profits he raises will be donated to EEG to help with our costs. Tickets $30. Ph: Ingrid 9870 8378 for details. (will send more details soon).
To help EEG's marketing and fundraising they would love the help of someone who has a good grasp of Photoshop or other image programs – to put a hand and an old growth forest together on their website.
Did we all forget again this year to nominate Jill Redwood and Rod Qantok (along with Julianne Bell, Jill Quirk and Mary Drost) for the Australia Day awards? Try to remember next year. Maybe we should have our own awards.
Who is braver or more dedicated than the activists who protect our forests?
Victoria, Australia the World owe an incalculable debt to Jill Redwood and the other members and supporters of Environment East Gippsland. Every tree saved is also a bastion for democracy and freedom, against the malignant march of concrete burocracy and the development lobby who would turn every old giant into toilet paper if they could.
The Supreme Court today refused VicForests' application for up to $163,000 in security from a small environment group. VicForests was asking for this sum to be secured before a court injunction is granted to stop logging on Brown Mountain.
"If Environment East Gippsland (EEG) had been required to pay such a large sum of money, it could have stifled an important piece of public interest litigation", said EEG spokesperson Jill Redwood.
“This is a groundbreaking decision because no Victorian court has ever ordered an injunction on logging before. It is also a groundbreaking case because it is the first time that the Supreme Court has been asked to order a party in a public interest case to pay security of this type”.
"The judgment says 'this is an exceptional case', and that if logging was allowed to go ahead before the trial, there is 'a genuine risk' that the Potoroo habitat may be destroyed”, said Ms Redwood.
Justice Forrest said that the relevant laws “demonstrate the clear legislative intent that protecting threatened or endangered species such as the Potoroo is particularly important”.
“We feel vindicated by this decision today and look forward to having the case heard for the protection of the forests and rare wildlife on Brown Mountain”, said Ms Redwood.
It seems unlikely that Environment East Gippsland stands to wear enormous costs after all. Judge Jack Forrest seems to be taking the laws he is expected to hear the case in relation to very seriously. Those laws are all about preserving biodiversity.
Here is how he has worded a relevant part of the jugement:
"Third, VicForests correctly says that any undertaking as to damages which may be given by EEG is in effect close to meaningless. The estimate of EEG's assets vary between $10,000 and $45,000. If it is unsuccessful in the calim, presumably it will, at least, have out of pocket legal expenses, and I assume there will be no money available to satisfy the undertaking as to damages. However, this is a public interest piece of litigation against a State corporation and I bear in mind that the preservation of endangered native fauna is a paramount consideration in the statutory provisions and documents I have referred to.
The Judge seems to be saying that an injunction would be appropriate. He has, however, allowed VicForests until Thursday to prove what their loss might be if there is just a temporary injunction and not a permanent stop to logging. A final comment: Since there has been a seven month moratorium for that area up until recently, while government biologists carried out surveys to confirm EEG's findings, it would be hard for VicForests to claim sudden large losses if they were prevented from logging for another few months.
Brown Mountain - Historic win for Victorian forests hangs on funding indemnity
Monday 14th September
Ed: Shakespeare wrote that the quality of mercy is not strained but falls from heaven like the rain ...
Not much rain and not much justice in Victoria, if you don't have money...
BUT there is still hope and this case is too important to lose:
In an historic win for an environment group, the Victorian Supreme Court today decided it is appropriate to grant an injunction restraining government logging monopoly VicForests from logging two areas of forest on Brown Mountain in East Gippsland.
"This is the first time a court order has been made to prevent the destruction of old growth forests in Victoria until a trial about the lawfulness of the logging is completed", said Jill Redwood, coordinator of Environment East Gippsland, the group that took the extraordinary court action.
Money required to bring our own government to justice
"The only reason the injunction wasn't granted today is that VicForests has asked the Court to order EEG to provide a large amount of money to secure its undertaking to pay any damages which flow to VicForests from the granting of the injunction. This will be argued in court on Thursday," said Ms Redwood.
"After we discovered a rare Long-footed Potoroo in the area a few weeks ago, VicForests still insisted that it would log the area immediately. We had to rush this to court to stop them," said Ms Redwood.
In his judgment, Justice Forrest referred to photographs of logging, and said they "demonstrate the apparent total obliteration of the area of native forest as a result of logging and the subsequent burning off. To put it bluntly, once the logging is carried out and the native habitat destroyed, then it cannot be reinstated or repaired in anything but the very, very long term."
Of course, that does not mean that anyone would then be able to repair it, any more than we have repaired the forest where our cities now stand. Once that forest is gone, to all intents and purposes, it is gone forever - and the species within it never to regenerate.
“If an injunction is granted on Thursday, it will last until we go to trial to argue about whether logging this old growth forest and the effects on its wildlife is lawful."
“Brown Mountain's forests have been the litmus test for the state government's commitment to forest conservation since 1989, when they were first declared National Estate by the Commonwealth Government but clearfelled by the State Government", said Ms Redwood.
It should be the government upholding the law to protect our wildlife, not fighting against it
"When will the Brumby Government get the message? It should be the government upholding the law to protect our wildlife, not fighting against it."
The endangered wildlife identified around Brown Mountain Creek includes the Sooty Owl, Long-footed Potoroo and Orbost Spiny Crayfish as well as the sensitive Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Gliders.
The matter returns to Court before Justice Forrest on Thursday 17 September 2009.
People with guts also an endangered species which needs protection
Please help Jill Redwood and the EEG group. People with guts in Victoria are almost as rare as the long-footed potoroo. Let's help to make brave people prepared to fight for justice flourish too!
Article about Brown Mountain on the Anarchist media net says that the logging of Brown Mountain will be done by public servants who would be otherwise deployed in our poorly tended ecosystems if they were not sent off to log. However EEG disagrees on this point. See related important corrections to original article in comments below it inside. They also make interesting reading.
Considering just 8% of Victoria’s old growth forests remain, you would think the Victorian State government would continue its seven month moratorium on logging at Brown mountain in far east Gippsland. You really have to wonder who the Environment Minister Gavin Jennings is kidding when he states “the old growth forest surrounding Brown Mountain is not top grade old growth forest and did not warrant protecting”.
It is hard to know who to believe about the real worth of the old growth forest surrounding Brown Mountain when a VicForests spokesperson says the area to be logged is “exceptional forest” and “seventy five percent will become high-grade saw logs”. If it is exceptional old growth forest, you would think the state government would be falling over itself to protect it.
Trying to appease some very angry environmentalists, the Victorian Environmental Minister has set aside 400 hectares of old growth forest around Brown Mountain to offset what will be logged. The only problem is century old trees will be logged while much of the 400 hectares set aside was logged in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Just in case you think hundreds of privately employed timber workers are going to lose their jobs; the logging will be carried out by the state’s timber arm VicForests.
Our taxes at work against us and the environment
Yep folks that’s right, no private contractors jobs are at stake and the employees who work for VicForests who will be doing the logging could be re-deployed into other jobs in the state’s commercial arm VicForests. It seems the decision to log the old growth forests at Brown Mountain has more to do with the state government protecting its tough pro-logging image than it has to do with the state making any money out of logging the old growth forests at Brown Mountain. If the Victorian Environment Minister didn’t believe the ALP wasn’t going to garner a few extra votes, the moratorium on logging at Brown Mountain would still be in place." [See inside; this statement has been contested.]
VicForests sued for illegal logging Tuesday 25th August 2009
Today, Environment East Gippsland commenced proceedings against VicForests in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
A writ was filed with the court this morning and has just been served on VicForests.
“We ask the Court for a permanent injunction to stop VicForests from logging Brown Mountain” said Jill Redwood, Coordinator of EEG. “We also ask the Court to declare that the logging of Brown Mountain is unlawful”.
Brown Mountain is known habitat for at least five species of wildlife listed as vulnerable or threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
The Court has not yet set a date for the hearing of the case.
“With the refusal of this government to protect the ancient forests and its endangered wildlife, it’s time to challenge this bloody-minded boys club in our courts.”
Forest warriors draw line at Brown Mountain
“There’s been open slather woodchipping in East Gippsland for 40 years but Brown Mountain is where we draw the line.”
“Coupled with other recent decisions against our environment, all Victorians can now see what barefaced disregard the Labor government is showing for our natural world.”
“The minister has congratulated the government for protecting the already protected peak at Brown Mountain, while logging the extremely wildlife-rich and ancient forests in its catchment.
Conservation order vital
The injunction relies on the area being critical habitat to a number of threatened species under both State and Federal legislation and requiring a conservation order to protect the area. In addition, the injunction relies on the logging being unlawful.
For comment: Jill Redwood (write to her via candobetter contact)
MEDIA RELEASE, Friday 21st August 2009, "Legal injunction set to stop logging"
Logging this massive forest represents huge CO2 sink destruction
News is just in is that a decision to log the huge forests of Brown Mountain will be made in a week or so and the loggers will go in immediately afterwards! Brumby is not planning to protect it! Be there Tomorrow at 10.30am on the steps of Parliament House Victoria. We want everyone who can come along - young and old.
Old Growth stops this land from drying and burning!
Emissions trading debate: is this the best we can do?
[...] the public don’t have the faintest idea how emissions trading works and are completely disengaged from the debate over model details. They just want something done about climate change and know that the experts think emissions trading is the way to go.
This entire debate is being conducted under false pretenses or on the basis that what is manifestly not the case, is. Is this the best a democracy can do?
Making the 'solutions' very abstract and removed to a global forum of international 'experts' is the best way to keep people from local action and critical thinking and to mire action in impenetrable jargon and unverifyable accounting of C02 tradeoffs, offsets, sinks etc.
So much more we can do for ourselves here
There is so much more we can do for ourselves, crucially by stopping removal of vegetation for population, infrastructure and economic expansion. For instance we have in Victoria a record of climate change related fires which can be linked at their worst to the thinned and managed forests here. See "Victorian Bush-fires: ABC 7.30 Report ignores facts, creates scapegoats". We have climate refugees now living in tents in the winter cold as a result of these fires. Yet, in this most cleared of states, Mr Brumby is about to send in the loggers to Brown Mountain, where 600 year old trees testify to the very low risk of out-of-control fires in old growth forests. Most recently scientists have tied forest to inland rainfall . Deforestation drys continents - new theory explains how and a huge environmental and political experiment in Borneo by Willie Smit demonstrated they are right , "Recreating Eden". Climate activism is a huge source of organised public action in the name of which small groups should be able to act. Instead we see a crowd hypnotised by Al Gore and captured and harnessed by various local political groups in their usual quest for power and dollars. It amazes me that the Al Gore Climate Change activists, for all their repetitive noise are apparently unaware of or incapable of stopping the destruction of forests in Australia. Why are they not converging in busloads to stop the loggers and the developers' bulldozers?
Home Grown solutions in NSF and Permaculture
We also have at least two homegrown major applied science theories and practice in the structural ecology of Peter Andrews' Natural Sequence Farming (NSF), and the social theory (as well as the farming theory) in Bill Mollison's Permaculture.
With this in mind, I hope I may now return your attention to the crucial local political action to save Brown Mountain Forest for tomorrow in Melbourne. This is a huge forest and logging it will make a HUGE difference to CO2 emissions and local and regional temperature and rainfall if allowed to proceed in this (it bears repeating) the most cleared of Australian states. Protest tomorrow (12 August) at 10.30am on the steps of Parliament House Victoria. Everyone who can come along - young and old. Contact 0413927044
Not so long ago, a giant thermal rain-bearing wind carried moisture inland from giant forests on the eastern coast of Australia. The giant thermal has disappeared along with the rain. Read why.
See also, "Deforestation drys continents - new theory explains how" Also see, at end of article, a short report about DSE from defenders of the forest at Brown Mountain.
This article was originally published on the Natural Sequence Farming Forum
On the east coast of Australia there used to run forests that were hundreds of feet high in places and travel for miles inland from the coast.
There were houses all along the east coast that were covered in mould, on the east side of the house.
Its the reason that Australians developed the cavity brick wall.
TODAY THIS FOREST NO LONGER EXISTS....The vegetation has all but been removed....which cooled the land and created the thermal wind which was caused by the temperature gradient between the warm sea air and the cooler air over the vegetated landscape.
In Mataranka in the NT the ancient Dreamtime stories of the Mangarayi and Yungman tribes describe a wind sweeping in from the east that created the area.
This short article about a tragic transformation in recent Australian history, was contributed in response to candobetter articles and reports about the role of vegetation, especially forests, in create rain and the relationship between desertification and deforestation.
Author: Duane, Assistant to Peter Andrews, of Natural Sequence Farming.
Editor's note: This process is ongoing and our governments are so plugged into the dead-end of industrial growth and financial rope-tricks that they are unable to stop the insane state of logging. Their actions are so indefensible that they avoid scrutiny by secrecy.
Here is the latest on the Brown Mountain destruction:
Dated 16-9-09: "Yesterday we received a 'NO' from the FOI unit to a request to access the DSE's own Brown Mt wildlife survey report that was sent to the minister. They are still playing politics with our old growth forests. Extra pressure is needed at this critical time." email sheila[AT]candobetter if you want to help.
Radiocarbon-testing has confirmed that a giant rare old-growth Eucalyptus regnans located in its natural forest habitat on East Gippsland's Brown Mountain has been chainsawed by VicForests, despite it being scientifically confirmed to be at least 500 years old.
No regard has been made for the existence value of a Victorian 500 year old natural asset, nor the habitat requirements for the typical arboreal animals and forest owls dependent on this old growth habitat tree or its associative forest dependent habitat. Under State-sanction, ignorant VicForest butchers have plundered, ransacked and run.
Manager, Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, Orbost, Steve DeVoogd, has been formally advised that this chainsawing of rare old growth forest is an offence committed under the section 46(1) of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004. The action is also a breach of Code of Forest Practices (CFP).
VicForests Chairman, Warren Hodgson, Board members Monica Gould, Jim Houghton, Fiona McNabb, Bob Smith, Susan Walpole, and Chief Executive Officer David Pollard should all be sacked forthwith. VicForests token 'vision' 'purpose' and 'values' which profess motherhood notions of 'sustainable', 'environmentally responsible' and 'ethical' are but Mugabean. This 500 year old tree epitomises the reality of Brumby's 'Sustainability Charter for State forests.
Botanist Steve Mueck has worked for the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment and is now a consultant in the private sector. He says radiocarbon dating of eucalypts is unusual and the result in this case is significant.
"Current forest managements practices are looking at harvesting on rotation times in the vicinity of 80 to 120 years with the perception that that's a particularly long period of time," he said.
"Now it is, I suppose, in the context of a human lifetime, but it is a very, very short period of time in comparison to the age in which many of the components that live in these forests can in fact get to in a natural system."
Back in the 1860s timber workers and naturalists emerged from the forests with stories of massive trees towering to immense heights and as wide as houses. Government botanist Ferdinand von Mueller recounted the existence of a tree as high as the Egyptian Pyramids at 480 ft (144m) and another fallen tree in the Dandenong Ranges over 400 ft (120m). A giant was sighted in the Otways with a girth of 64 ft (19m).
VicForests senseless decapitation of one of the last Victorian giants is a harbinger of extinction to Victoria's old growth forests. It's like grabbing an old ANZAC from the march past and slitting his throat.
Vic Government not doing its job for Brown Mountain
Today Bob Brown decried the situation on Brown Mountain, where amateurs are having to do work which is the responsibility of the government, in discovering and documenting endangered wildlife at Brown Mountain.
Brumby Government doing bidding of big end of town
He said that the Brumby Government is failing the people of Victoria by doing the bidding of the big end of town, and not what is in the best interests of most Victorians.
Brown answers questions on population policy for Australia
Towards the end of his press conference, Bob was asked a few questions about population policy and numbers in Australia.
He pointed out very emphatically that the Greens are the only political party with an environmentally based population policy, and that a population policy is needed for Australia.
He fielded questions about humanitarian aspects of immigration and refugees knowledgeably and honestly, pointing out that business migration was the larger component of the immigration program, and that people with money are more welcomed by the government than refugees.
He was asked how many people he feels that Australia can support. His response was to throw the question back at the interviewer.
He illustrated the combined impact of population numbers and lifestyle on our environment by saying that if living standards were to be at Australian levels, we would need four earths - and we do not have four - we only have one.
Brown appeared comfortable and confident with this topic.
We have received this information from a media release dated today, Wed 28th January 2009, on the occasion of a media conference with Senator Bob Brown on the Environment, East Gippsland, held at Treasury Gardens, outside 4 Treasury Place, Melbourne.
Call for immediate halt to logging
Environment East Gippsland has called for an immediate halt to logging at Brown Mountain, following the discovery of endangered species in the controversial area on the Australia Day weekend. They have obtained legal advice that the area should be set aside from logging.
The discovery of threatened species in the controversial area of Brown Mountain in East Gippsland will now have to be confirmed by Government biologists this week. Under threat of arrest, volunteers carried out wildlife surveys in the old growth forests.
Both professional and amateur surveyors discovered the presence of the threatened Orbost Spiny Crayfish, the endangered Sooty and Powerful owls and a large population of Greater Gliders.
“The place is literally teaming with endangered species.” said Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland.
“The government and logging industry knows it is one of the most diverse and wildlife rich sites remaining unprotected, but refused to identify these animals before they started cutting down their habitat. We had to prove it.”
“Our legal advice is that the Minister has the power to halt logging while confirmation surveys are carried out. However, we have had no assurances from government that logging will cease meanwhile - destroying giant old owl and glider nesting trees every day that it continues.”
“The great tragedy with the crayfish is that VicForests have already bulldozed very close to its rainforest creek edge destroying much of the buffer zone needed to protect it’s habitat.”
Government should cease arresting environmentalists and halt logging
“Before more threatened forest wildlife is destroyed the government must cease logging and cease arresting people for trying to protect these critical habitats.”
Bob Brown press conference 1pm (Wednesday 28-1-09)
Contents:#BobBrown">"Bob Brown: Threatened animal find must stop Brown Mountain logging, #SuePennicuik">"Sue Pennicuik: Heartbreak at Brown Mountain", #SuePennicuik2">"Logging on Brown Mountain is state sanctioned vandalism"
Bob Brown will be holding a conference with Liz from the Forest Alliance tomorrow (Wednesday 28 Jan, 2009) at 1pm to talk about the threatened species on Brown Mountain and the urgent need for the govt to live up to its responsibilities.
After activists presented the findings of the mammal survey to the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) minister's office this morning, DSE agreed to carry out a survey to confirm the forest defenders' findings. The forest activists have employed a local zoologist - Rohan Bilney.
Be outside the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Treasury Gardens at 1pm in a show of solidarity between species for this country and this planet.
#BobBrown" id="BobBrown">Threatened animal find must stop Brown Mountain logging
Premier John Brumby must pull loggers out of East Gippsland's Brown Mountain following the discovery of threatened species in the area, Greens Leader Bob Brown said in Melbourne today.
Environment East Gippsland commissioned a survey of two areas slated for logging that has found evidence of threatened species, including the Sooty Owl.
A separate search last weekend also found the threatened Orbost Spiny Crayfish in a creek near where VicForests has already started bulldozing.
"The Department of Sustainability and Environment must be hanging its head with shame that it failed in its responsibility to properly survey the area before logging was given the go ahead," Senator Brown said.
"Premier John Brumby must put a halt to logging while the findings of the EEG surveys are confirmed.
"We heard only yesterday that the global market for woodchips has plunged, so there is even less need for Victoria's precious old-growth forests to be feeding Eden's woodchip mill.
"These forests have far greater value in housing our diverse native species and storing carbon, which would otherwise be released through logging and burning.
"If the government won't protect the state's animals then it's up to its citizens, whether through protest, identifying threatened species, or taking legal action," Senator Brown said.
Greens MP, Sue Pennicuik visited the Brown Mountain area over the Australia Day weekend and described the destruction of the old growth forest to the east of Brown Mountain Creek as 'heartbreaking'.
"I spent Sunday morning walking through one fantastic stand of old growth to the west of Brown Mountain Creek, where trees with 11 and 12 metre circumferences towered above us. They could be up to 400 years old," said Ms Pennicuik. Anyone who went there could only be awed and inspired and would want to see it protected.
"I was devastated to then visit an adjacent area that has been clear felled by Vic Forests over November and December. To see what just a few weeks ago was magnificent rainforest smashed to pieces is just terrible. It is senseless. Giant trees that have lived for hundreds of years and were home to threatened species have been just knocked to the ground in what now resembles a moonscape.
"This area is significant old growth forest of high conservation value because of the diversity of species, the age range of the trees - young, medium, and the giants that are hundreds of years old. It supports a wealth of native animals including threatened species such as the sooty owl, the greater and yellow bellied gliders and the spiny crayfish, which was spotted in the creek," she said.
During the 2006 state election the ALP pledged to protect all the remaining significant old growth forest in East Gippsland.
"It is a mistake by the government not to preserve the whole area as a vital link between the Errinundra and Snowy River National Parks. Even though one part of it has now been lost, it is not too late to prevent the destruction of any more of it," she said.
"I call on the Brumby government to take control of Vic Forests and put a stop to the planned logging in two more coupes at Brown Mountain. This area was listed as part of the National Estate in the 1980's and the values that enabled that listing are still there and are more important than ever," she said.
"This significant old growth forest is owned by the Victorian people, not by Vic Forests. It is far more valuable to the community now and in the future as carbon storage, as part of the Snowy River catchment and as an area of irreplaceable natural beauty than as a pile of woodchips heading to Japan," she said.
Greens MP, Sue Pennicuik said today that logging at Brown Mountain in East Gippsland is state sanctioned vandalism and a blatant overturning of the ALP's 2006 commitment to protect old growth forests in East Gippsland.
Addressing protestors on the steps of state parliament, Ms Pennicuik said that "Nineteen years ago a forest protest at Brown Mountain stopped logging there in the lead up to the 1990 federal election. It is outrageous that it has commenced again now." said Ms Pennicuik. "The continued logging of old growth forests in this time of climate change is an absolute disgrace."
"You would think that the state government would have had time to learn since 1990 that old growth forests are much more valuable as critical carbon and biodiversity stores than as woodchips. The forests of East Gippsland must be protected and not logged as fodder at a bargain basement price for the Eden chip mill," she said.
The current Minister for the Environment Gavin Jennings should remember the Brown Mountain forests well. He was centrally involved in the negotiations which led to logging being stopped in 1990 in his role as an adviser to the then Environment Minister.
"Brown Mountain is part of the Snowy River catchment and so should be protected for that reason alone," she said."It forms the headwaters of the Bonang River and contains giant old-growth trees, which have been identified and mapped as part of a community-supported "Valley of the Giants" walking track. Many Victorians will have walked parts of Brown Mountain and have seen the magnificent trees for themselves."
"The government says it wants to deliver a 5,000 ha link between the Snowy and Errinundra National Parks. Brown Mountain is a vital part of this link," she said.
"It's not good enough for the Premier to claim he can't do anything. This forest is owned by the Victorian people. The logging contractors must be removed immediately and the area included for protection when the government (finally) delivers on it's 2006 election promise to protect 40,000 ha of old-growth and iconic forests in East Gippsland," she said.
Background: This area contains three highly contentious areas of forest known as coupes (840-502-0015, 840-502-0019, 840-502-0020) that were only added to the logging schedule in July 2007. Logging of these coupes would clearly contravene the government's commitment to protecting the last stands of old-growth forests in Victoria. Coupe 840-502-0020 is the one currently being logged.
Those who care about Brown Mountain are not all high in the giant trees, these protesters at ground level are on the same side as the tree dwellers and are horrified about the destruction of this magical place.
But, right now, everyone is relying on this little guy:, the Endangered Orbost Spiny Cray (Euastacus diversus), who, if the law is respected, has a right to a buffer-zone of 100 m on either side of the creek he lives in.
S.O.S! Longitude: 148.74495E Latitude: 37.26S. East Gippsland Victoria Australia
The logging of old growth forest at Brown Mountain has been precipitate and swift. Few Victorians would be aware of the destruction which has occurred over the past few weeks in forest wild life habitat.
Anti logging activists/environmentalists are scrambling to document the presence of an endangered crustacean in the local river and endangered glider population in an area which is now being denuded. For the logging company and the government it is best for the public to find this out in hindsight, or it is likely that clear felling would have to be reconsidered.
Activists are hoisted high in the trees
See red ring. Do you know anyone with this kind of guts and committment? Don't you think they deserve more support than the government? (Ed.)
"Activists are hoisted high in the trees," writes Jill Redwood, as she reports hastily from East Gippsland, six hours from Melbourne, where she literally has only hours to work to slow or halt further destruction of this area.
Loads of news to report - Brown Mountain (on Australia Day)
Sue Pennicuik (Greens MLC Victoria) drove up to Brown Mt to witness the destruction and breaches of the law which have been occurring. She spoke with contractors (in Stony Creek) and with protesters.
Walking into these areas, there are very strong signs of the illegal taking of burls (a commercial operation) and the illegal taking of a giant tree outside the designated logging boundary.
Endangered crayfish has been sighted
Endangered Orbost Spiny Cray (Euastacus diversus) has been discovered in Brown Mt. Creek. With this one, it's a race against time to have it recognised by the government before its habitat is logged. Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) seem more worried about whether the people who discovered it had a permit rather than if the crayfish warrants protection from bulldozers near its creek.
High populations of arboreal (tree living) mammals
High populations of arboreal (tree living) mammals have also been discovered in Brown Mt this weekend by researchers. They are there in densities which should trigger protection for the area under the Forest Management Plan prescriptions, of immediate halt to logging plans while the rich wildlife site is verified by DSE.
Greater Gliders, Yellow-bellied Gliders, and Potoroos have also been found across the track).
Many breaches constantly being discovered, according to this report:
1. bulldozing of mixed rainforest along Brown Mountain Creek in readiness to start clearfelling the adjoining stand of ancient forest.
2. contractor/logger being investigated for theft of burls.
3. Huge old tree has been felled outside the coupe boundary - illegal logging.
4. VicForests has prohibited access through the tourist road into the park for the past 3 months of holidays - with no alternative route offered. Only two days ago, after weeks of complaint, have they made a change that allows tourists into the National Park! Comment: Who owns these areas!?
5. Logging has continued against occupational health and safety regulations when members of the public are present. Worksafe is believed to be investigating.
6. Bulldozers' used oil filters left lying on the ground contaminating soil and eventually water course.
This is how the Brumby Government treats our National Heritage of ancient forests and threatened species - on Australia Day!
Members of the public can be and are charged for entering these areas to expose the illegal goings on - but no one is checking on the loggers or VicForests!
Bulldozer boundary track has been put around the adjoining stand of old growth in prep for the start of clearfelling this week!
It's one minute to midnight. Please help in whatever way you can -
* get up here to help stall the logging -
* call the Premier's office (bypass Jennings) 9651 5000 and get outraged by any of the above ...
* pass this email around to friends or any journalists you know.
* find a VIP/sports celeb etc who might like to help up the profile of this issue (cottage accommodation if they want to visit)
* there could be a new group of older women (seniors) about to start getting active. Do you know others who could join in?
* call talkback radio and speak your heart
* write short pithy letters to newspapers (dailys or metro - eastern burbs useful).
* handwrite (most influential), type or email a letter to Brumby demanding an immediate halt to such a rich area. Write to the Treasurer John Lenders (c/- Parliament House Spring St Melb) demanding VicForests be pulled into line - for economic and on the ground accountability.
The immense trees that have sheltered and raised hundreds of generations of owls and gliding possums are now being hacked down by VicForests. The understorey of tree ferns and waratahs, twining silkpod and musk daisy bush are being crushed into the mud by 40 tonne bulldozers.
Victoria’s Brumby government is allowing their logging department to destroy these ancient treasures - home to threatened species like the Powerful and Sooty Owls, the Long-footed Potoroo and the secretive Spot-tailed Quoll.
This is the forest that was promised for protection in 2006 by the State Labor Government. So why is it being destroyed now? … (click here) read on …
Flawed maps and broken promises
In 2006, the then premier, Steve Bracks, made a promise to “protect all significant stands of old growth currently available for logging”. This, with several other areas called icon forests amounted to about 41,000 ha. However, he also promised there would be no impact on the logging industry - an impossible undertaking.
A few days before the 2006 election, the Environment Minister’s office (then John Thwaites) did a quick and dirty job of throwing the old growth maps together -. It was so badly mapped it included cow paddocks, logged forest and burnt regeneration. In the two years since this promise was given, hundreds of hectares of Old Growth Forest have been logged while conservation groups tried to engage a stubborn government to reassess the maps. Cow paddocks were safely protected, but magnificent old growth was crashing to the ground.
Fiction writers employed while old growth falls.
Post election, the Labor government engaged a couple of logging industry supporters to write a report on how the industry in East Gippsland would manage if these forests were protected. Pete Steedman was an old ALP head-kicking hack and Graham Gooding was the former head of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries. The result was a great piece of fiction and spin that only the logging industry can create. For instance, despite the fact that the declining logging industry provides less than 2% of the region’s employment, their document claimed it was 50% or more. Fearful of a union backlash, the government did nothing - no reassessment of maps, no protection, no tourist walks, no pay-outs; just more clearfelling of old growth forests.
The year 2500 is a long time to wait for these big trees to regrow again.
Old Growth Walk for visitors
The maps also left out the very area that was promised for the visitors’ walk. In the 2006 policy document Victoria’s National Parks and Biodiversity, Mr Bracks stated he would “Invest $1.3 million to create … the Great Short Walks of East Gippsland”. This was to include the “Old Growth Walk - Goongerah” (Goongerah is the nearest small town to Brown Mountain).
In the late 1990s, a member of EEG discovered this magnificent stand of forest and called it the Valley of the Giants. Since then hundreds of visitors have experienced these grand trees, which have names like Almo, Lofty, Uncle George, Steadfast and Big Foot. The track was tagged and has become a well known but unofficial walk that is easy to access on a gentle slope and with the Brown Mountain Creek rainforest running through the centre. We have taken two parties of government officials in there in order to negotiate this area becoming formally recognised as a walk. Now half of it has been hacked down.
VicForests rides roughshod over government policy
VicForests was created in August 2004 to ensure logging public forests was a profitable business. It has never made a profit since then despite millions in govt handouts. The unruly band of old-school loggers within VicForests could see that Brown Mountain might be protected before they could get to it’s real estate, so in early 2007, they planned for last stands of unprotected old growth to wiped out.
EEG duly sent our formal objection to VicForests, as part of the sham called ‘public consultation’. VicForests’ duly told us that it was all perfectly legal and to bugger off. They later told the Minister’s office they didn’t know this coupe was contentious or a planned walk!
In late October 2008, VicForests sent the loggers in to start wiping these carbon, water and wildlife rich forests off the face of the planet. Not to mention our old growth walk. Not only that but they had to gall to name the coupe “The Walk” in full knowledge of what they were doing; another example of the goading, fibbing, cowboy nature of this organisation.
These trees would have been mature when Shakespeare was writing his plays. The tree ferns that shelter beneath them could be twice as old. The forests have survived hundreds of years of storms, snow, drought and the occasional fire. They are now being obliterated from the landscape in 4 weeks by a team of 5 men - as part of an “approved logging operation”. Work for five blokes for four weeks. Gone forever.
The great irony is that in 1995, when John Brumby was in opposition, he made a very stirring speech at a forest rally in Melbourne.
"... that's what we'll do when we're in government
- no more export woodchipping,
an industry in the future based
on plantations and the proper protection
of our high conservation value forests." (John Brumby 1995)
See the link below, for the video footage of his powerful words.
Is this government so easily cowered by a bunch of ruthless welfare recipients that run VicForests? Or is it the weedy might of the loggers union that scares them?
Please - write letters to Gavin Jennings and John Brumby expressing your outrage. Enough old growth forest has been destroyed and converted to pulpwood farms in East Gippsland over the past 40 years. Far too much of the little that remains has been lost since their 2006 promise to protect our old growth.
The logging of this most significant stand of old growth on Brown Mountain is the ultimate statement of contempt for the public’s deep concern and love for our ancient native forests.
Hon John Brumby
Premier of Victoria
1 Treasury Place
Melbourne, Vic 3002
Hon Gavin Jennings
Minister for Environment,
50 Lonsdale St
Melbourne, Vic 3002