Did you know forests carry out their own clever fire suppression? And government burns destroy this?
Brilliant natural systems digest leaf litter, keep the understorey damp and a layer of nutrient rich humus at ground level, all operate with clever symbiotic relationships between plants, animals and fungi. This ground level layer is the basis of the forest food chain.
Read just a selection of fascinating extracts from research on how important these ground layer ecosystems are – and how vulnerable they are to increasing and inappropriate planned government burns. From Blue-tongued Lizards to Mallee Moths and fungi, these essential and unsung heroes of fire suppression are often totally wiped out in regular burns.
Minister Walsh's apology makes the front page. People have been asking us if we received anything more than just an apology. Unfortunately we are unable to discuss this.
Minister Walsh - "SORRY EEG"
Comments made against EEG last October have resulted in Minister Peter Walsh stepping back and making a public apology today (19.3.14). The apology to Environment East Gippsland was published on his parliamentary website. But was short lived.
The Minister’s media comments in October last year stated that EEG “…continue(s) to attack Victoria’s responsible and sustainable native forest industry, often wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars”.
In today’s apology, he retracted those statements.
“In fact what EEG has done is successfully take three legal actions against VicForests and DEPI for their refusal to adhere to state environmental legislation”, said Jill Redwood, Coordinator of the group.
“If VicForests and the government department would simply behave themselves, small community groups would not be forced to sue them for being environmentally recklessness”.
“Minister Walsh said that a ‘major factor’ in the recent serious financial losses of VicForests, was due to our group taking action against them” said Ms Redwood. “The statements suggested that it was us who wasted tax payers dollars, not VicForests or DEPI, that we have no respect for the court system, and that we have ulterior motives besides protecting the environment.”
It’s been estimated that bills of up to $200,000 for this and a previous case against Peter Walsh for defaming another environment group will come out of the tax-payers pockets rather than the Minister’s own pocket.
“Minister Walsh has more hide than Blarney’s bull to accuse a one-desk environment group in East Gippsland of being a ‘major factor’ for recent VicForests losses. VicForests logs public forests for free yet has made losses in eight years out of 10. Minister Walsh’s ‘mouth without restraint’ seems to match the ‘industry without restraint’.
Is Victoria's new threatened species ‘action plan’ –really a ‘dither plan’ ?
Victoria’s backlog of almost 500 listed species that currently have no legal protection, have finally seen a plan* to plan for their protection.
Environment East Gippsland legally challenged the government’s neglect to write protection measures for most of the state’s rare species last June. It was settled in October 2013, but we're still concerned that 200-300 listed threatened wildlife and native plants could remain unprotected.
The 'plan to plan for the plans', was part of the out-of-court settlement agreed to by the Victorian government to detail how it intends to deal with the huge backlog of 474 rare and threatened wildlife and native plants that have no protection. But Minister Walsh’s department left out the details and offers no timeline for if, or when, they intend to complete all the species’ protection measures.
A few trite words are not enough. Targets, quantitative and time limited, with measurable KPIs are needed. Otherwise their plan is just a mickey mouse vague intention. As it stands, the plan does not hold them accountable and there is no penalty for failure to meet targets - which it doesn't specify.
The department has outlined how it intends to prioritise ‘a number’ of species over the next three years, but gives no assurance that it will urgently create enforceable protection plans for hundreds that can still be legally destroyed by logging, mining and development. We might only see 12 or 20 species gain legislated protection as a result of this.
It is ironic that the lawyers of the Environment Defenders Office who helped with this case are now endangered themselves, due to the Abbott Government’s sudden withdrawal of funds just before Christmas. But this is a clear sign that legal action against government’s failure to protect the environment is having an effect.
EEG successfully takes legal action against government neglect of environmental laws - #3
EEG and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) have applied for our case to be discontinued in the Supreme Court after an out-of-court agreement was reached.
We took action to sue the government over its disregard for its own laws. We asked it to write protection plans for four out of 374 Victorian threatened species. Started in May, it was heard on 30th of October 2013.
The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act states that as soon as a species is listed as threatened it must have a protection plan, called an Action Statement, drawn up ‘as soon as possible’. The four species chosen to test this law (the Glossy Black Cockatoo, the Long-nosed Potoroo, the Large Brown Tree Frog and the Eastern She-Oak skink) have been waiting for an Action Statement for between 10 and 18 years. We felt this can't be legally interpreted as ‘as soon as possible’!
The EDO represented us and our supporters funded this third successful legal case. :-)
Our rare wildlife is formally listed and acknowledged under law as being threatened, but over half receive no protection from logging, mining or development. Day by day, their survival becomes even more precarious as their habitat is destroyed by VicForests - with impunity!
DEPI has agreed to write a protection plan for each of these species within the next eight months. Minister Walsh’s department has also agreed to prepare a plan to deal with the massive backlog of threatened species still without protection plans (370). We don't know if this document will contain anything of substance or be made publicly available.
We will be watching to see if the Action Statements are strongly worded to ensure protection of wildlife, or designed to protect the ongoing destruction of their habitat, as has been the case for about 20 years.
Thanks again to the EDO and our generous supporters for helping ensure the government is held to account on the environment.
THE IMMORAL GOVERNMENT
This Opinion Piece by Jill is on the ABC's environment page and has generated over 100 comments.
"Why, in a developed country should small regional volunteer groups, which run on a meagre budget, be forced to take on the behemoth monster that is the government? The answer is that our democracy is a façade behind which vested interests and large exploitative corporations call the shots."
This short video explains how forests and our climate are so closely connected. Forests are our greatest land based carbon stores, shade the earth, moderate our climate and provide clouds and rainfall.