Victorian environment department to remove ambiguity from logging definitions after VicForests cleared of logging near Bendoc State Forest

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning will change logging regulations after clearing VicForests of illegal logging in East Gippsland.

Rainforest logging at Mt Jersey, Victoria

VicForests was cleared of logging cool temperate-mixed rainforest near the NSW border. Supplied: Goongerah Environment Centre

The state-owned VicForests has been cleared of logging cool temperate mixed rainforest in the Bendoc State Forest, near the NSW border.

VicForests general manager Nathan Trushell said the organisation was pleased with the outcome and would continue to follow forest regulations.

It was the fourth investigation this year into VicForests logging practises in East Gippsland.

In three earlier investigations, it was found not to have breached logging codes for rainforest protection and waterway harvesting.

But the department said there was inconclusive evidence to determine if illegal rainforest harvesting had occurred.

The department’s acting director of land planning, Christine Furguson, said the latest investigation raised two issues with logging regulations.

“The first of those was relating to the definitions of cool temperate mixed rainforest, and we found that there was more than one definition,” she said.

“That means that there is obviously ambiguity for us as the regulators but also industry and environmental groups, it leaves assessments open to interpretation.”

Ms Furguson said the second issue the department identified in its review of regulations was the need for greater protection of isolated old trees.

“We’ll undertake a stocktake of the protections that exist now for large old trees and we will likely recommend some interim protections for them,” she said.

Goongerah Environment Centre’s Ed Hill said more needed to be done to protect rainforests in East Gippsland.

“The department need to be asking themselves why did this incident occur in the first place?” he said.

“And what are they going to do to get out there and identify areas of rainforest and threatened species habitat and forest types that are actually protected by the law before they allow VicForests to go in and log them?”

The department said it would consult widely before making any changes to regulations.

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