Suing the government again - for the owls
23rd September 2014
Environment East Gippsland is suing the state government for a fourth time! We lodged the legal papers on Monday 22nd Sept.
The summer fires destroyed thousands of hectares of critically important habitat for East Gippsland’s threatened wildlife. This region is the stronghold for large forest owls yet DEPI refuses to urgently review the protection measures for them as they are obliged to.
In the fires 46 protected owl zones burnt. These sites might no longer contain the values for which they were originally protected. The government is legally obliged to establish protection zones for each of the Powerful, Sooty and Masked owls across the region (these zones are woefully inadequate but that’s another issue). The survival needs of owls and the demands of the logging industry are similar, both prefer the rich forests containing large trees. The government’s loyalty though seems to be with the demands of VicForests and the logging industry.
We wrote to Ministers Walsh and Smith in April requesting an urgent review of owl zones, but the environment minister refused. They plan to clearfell 81 stands of mature and old growth forest where owls have been identified. These unprotected areas of prime owl habitat could be critical for the survival of our large forest owls.
We believe DEPI and VicForests are in breach of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, the East Gippsland Forest Management Plan, Action Statements for the Large Forest Owls, the Code of Forest Practices, the Precautionary Principle, the Sustainable Forests Act, the Forests Act, conditions in the Allocation Order and conditions in the Amended Timber Release Plan.
Such lawlessness by the very body which writes legislation and regulations can’t be an accident, not after we have taken legal action against the government on three other occasions.
Even before the fires, the requirement that around 80,000ha of high quality habitat (old growth) must be protected for Powerful Owls in East Gippsland was not being met. Only 64,000ha was set aside. Some even considered that 800 ha per pair of owls to be at best about a third of the area needed.
Since the 2014 Goongerah-Deddick fires, the owls in the burnt zones could have easily perished as they are very territorial. Old growth and other suitable owl habitat is at a premium in the region meaning surviving owls would have found it difficult to move into and survive in poorer habitat that doesn’t support good populations of their prey species.
Citizens should not be forced to sue their own government for breaking its laws. It is a costly, stressful and time consuming action, but when our rare wildlife is in diabolical trouble, we have no other option.
As the case progresses we may have to pass the hat around for financial support. We’ll see how we go and keep you updated on developments.
To keep up with forest and wildlife news in general ‘like’ us on Facebook, and ‘get notifications’ (under the ‘like’ button). www.facebook.com/EnvironmentEastGippsland
VicForests new website is a hoot
16th September 2014
A wonderful new website designed to look behind the monster that VicForests really is, has just been launched! Enjoy!
Logging increases forests flammability - new research
15th August 2014
New landmark research shows conclusively that the deadly Black Saturday fires were more extreme due to the thick flammable LOGGING regrowth.
Scientists from Melbourne University and the ANU (Professor David Lindenmayer, Dr Chris Taylor and Dr Michael McCarthy) say the study showed the deadly blaze was more extreme where it ripped through young logging regrowth.
The study is dynamite and is published in Conservation Letters.
A complimentary study by Michael McCarthy can also be found here.
Read more on our website here or at the ABC news website.
The findings have massive implications for whole towns and communities where they are surrounded by regenerating forests 7-40 years after logging. Of course the logging industry is in an uproar about scientist that dare come up with such research findings. The industry has devised a counter pseudo ‘scientific’ report in an attempt to prove otherwise, yet their own diagram 4 reinforces the point Dr Taylor et al made.
See also summary of the research on The Conversation:
theconversation.com/victorias-logged-landscapes-are-at-increased-risk-of-bushfire and one which focuses on the long term destruction of natural forests in successive bushfires.
SMOKE and ERRORS
11th Sept 2014
So why isn’t the Government accepting recommendation 5 of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry? Peter Ryan claims it’s just too difficult to get carbon monoxide monitoring equipment to a site within 24 hours. Yeah? How long does it take to drive a hand held CO monitoring device from Melbourne to Victoria’s far ends? 6-7 hours max.
The real answer is more likely to be due to the government wanting to avoid any exposure of its own deliberate annual air pollution.
We have all suffered the choking smoke of government autumn burns, more so since 2009. These government decreed pollution events could often prove to exceed health limits for CO and the very dangerous and carcinogenic fine particulate matter called PM2.5.
In an emergency it is the DEPI Incident Controllers that have the responsibility to notify the public when the smoke reaches levels that are dangerous to public health. This little fact came from the Chief Health Officer during the mine fire inquiry (there’s a footnote link to her evidence from the transcript at page T.1155 to T.1160) hazelwoodinquiry.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/HMFI-040614-Day08.pdf
Smoke isn’t just a short term annoyance that effects the elderly or those with respiratory problems. Even for healthy people it has irritants, carcinogens and toxins. Then there is also the less easy to detect but deadly carbon monoxide danger. If this reaches 9ppm it should require a community to be evacuated, which is of course costly for governments. You can see why they'd prefer they didn't know how bad it was. A bit like not looking for endangered wildlife before they log.
If the government refuses to accept a simple recommendation to carry out air testing in situations dangerous to public health, then what use are the other recs relating to responding to that information?
We have the recs of two inquiries at odds with each other here – the 2009 Bushfire Royal Commission recommended (despite no scientific back-up) a trebling of annual burns, creating masses of pollution that threatens community health. And now the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry that recognises the health dangers of smoke, wants to limit the smoke impacts and ensure an appropriate response to unhealthy levels of smoke and carbon monoxide.
WELFARE INDUSTRY ROBS THE PUBLIC
16 August 2914
Will Napthine hand VicForests $18M from our pockets next year to log East Gippy forests?
This is despite their being no market for the bulk of the trees they cut down. The East Gippsland community could do so much more with that money. It could kick start more useful and more healthy, growing sectors - eco-tourism, new agricultural initiatives, fire preparedness ...
Are our Gippsland politicians like Garry Blackwood, Danny O'Brien, Peter Ryan and Tim Bull are caught in a time warp from the 70s? The markets have spoken and the show is over.
The below opinion piece from the Herald Sun is clear evidence of the millions in logging welfare that our taxes have been used foro. This is a destructive and shrinking extractive operation that's now supporting about as many jobs as a cottage industry that makes jam might.
BOYCOTT THESE AFS ENVELOPES
Don't be conned! These envelopes should be avoided as they just provide free promotion for the farce that is the Australian Forest Standard.
AFS is the loggers-own 'green tick' they invented to try and cover their 'business as usual' forest destruction.
BIOMASSACRE - Don't trash our forests for energy
The logging, woodchipping and energy industries are poised to unleash plans to use native forests to produce electricity, and to convert forests into liquid bio-fuels.
www.biomassacre.com has a cyber action that you can easily be part of. Sign the online action now to ask electricity retailers if they plan to boycott selling power that has been generated from burning native forests.
dont trash forests for bioenergy/say no to a biomassacre
More details at http://biomassacre.com/
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.
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