After the state government was caught out during and after the ’06 fires, thumbing its nose at its own planning regulations let alone Federal laws, these careless cowboys have now changed the laws to allow them to continue!
Over 200 km of these lineal logging coupes were bulldozed through the heart of many intact and important wet forests, including National Parks. Even people within DSE and the CFA shook their heads in disbelief and questioned whether these “breaks” were effective in fire fighting. In fact, many saw them as counter productive, drying out wet forests and creating wind tunnels.
In early February, Environment Minister, Gavin Jennings, announced that there will be hundreds more kilometres of so called “fuel breaks” gouged from the forested landscapes of Victoria. No doubt this was approved after some added lobbying from logging and woodchipping interests. The wind tunnels can be up to 40 metres wide and are planned for forests in the Otway Ranges, Gippsland, Ballarat, Bendigo and the Mallee. Minister Jennings claims these scars will be constructed in an “environmentally sensitive” manner. Like a farmer cuts the skin off a sheep’s bottom in a sensitive manner? Gaps in the forest won’t stop mega fires but some decent water bombers might.
Changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions was pushed through to make these huge swathes legal. The government is supposed to offset permanent losses in vegetation cover by protecting other areas of equal value. We’re not sure if those forests already cleared will be offset.
Because there are seven nationally endangered species living where the fire breaks have been cut, and are planned to be cut, the Federal Government are also part of the approvals process. It’s no surprise that Environment Minister, Peter Garrett gave the nod. So instead of looking at each area on a case by case basis, the Feds have OK’d the lot – just as long as DSE bulldozes these breaks oh so carefully where they know there are endangered species.
EPBC decision 2007-3897 / DSE media release – 5.2.08