Murray Logging Must Be Stopped

May 19, 2006

TODAY’S meeting of the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council in Melbourne must call for an immediate halt to logging in the Murray’s River Red Gum wetland forests, say leading green groups.

The Victorian National Parks Association, Friends of the Earth and The Wilderness Society say ongoing destructive logging undermines the $1billion effort to restore the health of the once-mighty Murray.

Victorian National Parks Association spokesperson, Nick Roberts said: “While these ministers sit in Melbourne discussing how to spend $1billion saving the Murray, their departments are busy clear felling it into oblivion”.

“The community cares a great deal about the environment, clean water and healthy wetlands, and they will be deeply unimpressed if government leaders keep allowing our red gum forests to be trashed,” he said.

In the last few months Victorian forestry agencies have been responsible for a major logging breach resulting in the destruction of a protected area for the nationally endangered Superb parrot, while NSW forestry agencies have just been reported for a massive clear fell operation just metres from the banks of the River Murray.

 Friends of The Earth spokesperson Jonathan La Nauze said: “For years we have been warning governments that logging River Red Gum is pushing threatened species to the brink and irreversibly destroying Indigenous cultural heritage”.

“They are destroying the heart of the Murray and it must stop,” he said.

The head of one of the leading government agencies charged with river and wetland health in the region has also admitted the problems in a recent speech to the Royal Society of Victoria.

In the speech Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority CEO Bill O’Kane said: “There is no point spending this sort of money on water ($500million) if other threats are not addressed”.

“The Significant Ecological Asset plan for Barmah identified grazing, logging, pest plants and animals, recreation and erosion as other threatening processes.”

Mr Roberts said: “to log these internationally significant wetland forests is a disgrace and will undermine all efforts to restore the health of the Murray River.”

“We call upon the Victorian and NSW Governments to negotiate a system of new national parks with the traditional owners along the River Murray now,” he said.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Victorian National Parks Association, Nick Roberts on 0429 945 429
Friends of the Earth Melbourne, Jonathan La Nauze on 0402 904 251