Brown Mt – 20 years on

Here’s a quick summary of the Brown Mountain saga so far:

    This controversial area of National Estate forest has been in the limelight since 1989. Small but viable stands of ancient forest remain after years of butchery.
    A 20 ha stand of old growth was clearfelled on Brown Mountain over summer 08-09. VicForests lied to the Minister’s office about the need to log it. VicForests also mockingly called the coupe “the Walk” knowing it was the mapped and planned old growth walk Steve Bracks had previously agreed to fund.
    The logging was targeted for protest action and people were arrested and charged and media reported the conflict.
    Ministers’ staffers visited
    The adjoining stands of ancient forest were surveyed, species were found that should be protected; a moratorium was placed on logging the adjoining forest and it was later surveyed by DSE biologists.
    The DSE survey results are currently with the Minister waiting for a decision (we have put in an FOI for the report).
    EEG took samples from a large stump and sent it off for radiocarbon dating; one tree was found to be about 600 years old.
    The clearfelled site and the resprouting 600 year old stump were killed in a department incineration burn in April.
    We’re still waiting for Mr Brumby to announce that the remaining areas will be protected due to high densities of sensitive tree dwelling marsupials.

Many people wrote to the Government objecting to this logging. The response was an insult. It basically said:

1) We identified all the old growth areas needing protecting back in 2006 and Brown Mt wasn’t one of them. These other areas have a moratorium on them now.

** what they didn’t say is that over the last 2 years while they protected thousands of hectares of degraded regrowth, they destroyed key old growth forests. They ignored urgings to protect Brown Mt. The ALP also promised to protect the old growth walk in the same 2006 election promise – the area they logged and provocatively called “The Walk” by VicForests.

2) There’s more parks than logging areas, we only log 8% of public land and it’s all done under law and to the highest standards which are checked by EPA audits

** Reserves are often areas not wanted by logging industry (Alpine snow gums, coastal scrub, Mallee etc) so the very best is still being destroyed.

The amount of loggable forest on Victoria’s public land is small anyway and, as most of it has already been converted to pulp farms under the guise of regrowth, what is being logged now is the absolute best of what remains – less than 8% of our original forests.

It was also legal to hunt whales once upon a time. Destroying things by law does not make it right. The destruction of old growth and killing threatened wildlife is not audited by the EPA. Though its audits consistently show serious breaches of logging Codes.

3) We are currently reviewing the lines on the map for old growth areas and when we’ve finished it’ll be all hunky dory and will only be destroying a little bit.

** Meanwhile much old growth that should have been protected has been wiped out. Offsetting those losses with 100% protection of what remains would be decent. Their crooked definition of old growth allows them to claim they don’t log it when they do.

4) The most outrageous comment in their form letter is their last paragraph. It says that clearfelling and burning is actually good for climate change! And that they replace all the species again and in time it’s all beaut.

** The most recent Australian and overseas scientific research states the opposite (see page 13, and the last Potoroo for details). We don’t have 500 years to soak up the lost carbon from logging forest and burning it to the ground. Despite it being law, forests are never restored to their original composition – they are converted to single species tree farms managed intensively for short rotation wood pulp. Evidence is right across Eastern Victoria’s forests to prove it. Values lost include water, species composition, biomass and carbon storage capacity.

If you receive these insulting letters, please let them know you are not placated (which they hope you have been). Express your outrage at being treated like fools and fed manure by Brumby (via bureaucrats). Just a one paragraph spit will let them know they haven’t fooled you.

Jill

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