Victorian government to log thousands of hectares of fire damaged forests

Victorian government to log thousands of hectares of fire damaged forests

The Andrews government logging agency VicForests have written to Friends of the Earth member group, Goongerah Environment Centre, outlining plans to log thousands of hectares of forests affected by the 2019/2020 bushfires in East Gippsland, despite the known devastating ecological impacts of salvage logging. 

The government's own regulator is working with VicForests to give them the green light to salvage log, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that this will cause severe ecological harmThe Age have reported here.

Wildlife threatened with extinction that survived the bushfires will not survive salvage logging. It will be the final blow for bushfire affected threatened species if logging continues, but the government can still take action to stop the senseless destruction planned for thousands of hectares of precious forests in and outside the fire extent. 

The Premier must step in and stop the logging in fire-affected areas and protect critical unburnt forests across Victoria. A rapid transition out of native forest logging is urgently needed, send Premier Andrews an email here.

Sensitive fire-affected alpine forests scheduled for logging in the coming monthsPost fire logging is the most damaging form of logging, and is known to have potentially irreversible consequences for recovering forests and wildlife and increases the severity and future risk of bushfires. Research also shows that bushfire-ravaged soil can take up to 80 years to recover. Allowing so-called salvage logging will have devastating impacts on already damaged soil conditions and halt the recovery of critical understorey species which protect the soil and stop erosion.

The letter from VicForests downplays the unprecedented impacts of this summer's bushfires, they claim that past major bushfire events have informed their policies and that there is no need to change their outdated practices. The government is ignoring the science and rushing to smash-and-grab burnt forests, acting as if the bushfires didn't happen.

The letter from VicForests also denounces the scientific contributions and work of Professor David Lindenmayer, one of Australia’s leading ecologists and a renowned voice in the scientific community regarding forests and land management. He has conducted extensive research on the impacts of salvage logging on bushfire affected forests and wildlife. VicForests are wilfully ignoring scientific evidence to justify continued logging in native forests across Victoria.

In the Central Highlands, key areas of unburnt forests are still being logged. Friends of the Earth member group, Wildlife of the Central Highlands, represented by Environmental Justice Australia have launched a landmark court case against the government logging agency over the continued destruction of bushfire affected threatened species habitat. The case has temporarily halted logging in 26 areas of forest, community members have been forced to step in and take action where the Andrews government is failing to protect wildlife severely under threat of extinction.

Goongerah Environment Centre spokesperson Chris Schuringa says;

“Salvage logging will have devastating consequences for forests and wildlife impacted by the fires. There still hasn’t been comprehensive assessments into the impacts on bushfire affected threatened species, what is the harm in waiting until those assessments have been completed? Steam rolling ahead with logging of unburnt and burnt forests in Victoria is grossly irresponsible and will have dire consequences for threatened species.”

“The science is very clear about the devastating impacts of salvage logging, but the government is ignoring calls from the scientific community, and Victorians, who don’t want to see fire-affected forests ransacked when they need to be left to recover. The government is continuing business as usual as if the bushfires didn’t happen.”

“We know the industry isn’t sustainable. We know that salvage logging in burnt forests, and continued logging in unburnt forests will have devastating and irreversible impacts on bushfire affected threatened species. Forests will recover if left to do so, but not if they are logged after being hit so hard by the unprecedented bushfires we saw over the summer. The government must bring forward the transition out of native forest logging.”

"With the future threats of climate change, more frequent and severe bushfires, and continued logging, the odds of survival are stacked against Victoria's precious and unique wildlife. The government has the responsibility to stop one of the key drivers of extinction and biodiversity loss. There has never been a more urgent time to protect remaining forests after the horrific fires, and decades of destructive logging."

Media contact:

Chris Schuringa
geco@geco.org.au

0418 912 625


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