Forest Announcement not enough

November 17, 2006

Victoria’s peak environment groups welcomed Steve Bracks increased protection of Cobboboonee in the South-West and some old growth forests in Eastern Victoria today, but significantly more needed to be done, the groups said.

The Victorian Forest Alliance (Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, The Central Highlands Alliance, Environment East Gippsland, Yarra Ranges Environment Coalition, Upper Bunyip Action Group, and Lawyers for Forests), Environment Victoria and the Victorian National Parks Association said the creation of the Cobboboonee National Park (27,000 hectares) is welcome.

“The Labor forest announcement however shows no consideration for climate change or water in the forests of Eastern Victoria. The Labor parties proposal to protect 40,000 ha of iconic areas in East Gippsland is a good start but it is only a small part of the 970,000 ha environment groups and scientists believe should be protected in Eastern Victoria,” said The Wilderness Society Victorian Campaign Manager Gavan McFadzean.

“The overall package however is disappointing when you look at logging continuing in our water catchments as it is only about 10 per cent of Victoria’s old growth estate forests and does not deliver any protection for the forests in Central Highlands and Central Gippsland.”

Friends of the Earth Melbourne Campaigner Coordinator Cam Walker said: “Protection of Goolengook Block and 5000 hectares of additions to the Great Alpine National Park are very welcome but there are still thousands of hectares which should be immediately included in the national park and reserve system.”

“The areas proposed for protection consist of iconic areas of old-growth forests and rainforest in East Gippsland with nothing in Central Gippsland or the Central Highlands. This leaves the door open for the Liberal part to step in and show leadership,” said Australian Conservation Foundation Land and Water Manager Matt Ruchel.

“There was a real opportunity for the Bracks Government to step up to the crease and deliver a transition package for the timber industry,” Mr Ruchel said.

Victorian National Parks Association spokesperson Philip Ingamells said: “The proposed creation of a new Red Gum National and Forest park following the Victorian Environment Assessment Council decision soon is also welcome.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Gavan McFadzean on 0414 754 023, Matt Ruchel on 0409 004 651, Cam Walker on 0419 338 047