In line with the Taskforce Terms of Reference, those representing the industry, union and enviro groups have refined the agreed opportunities for industry and conservation changes. This includes the establishment of new parks and reserves, threatened species, wood supply security, industry investment, measuring and valuing forest carbon, jobs and regional employment, review and reform regulations (laws), the future shape of the industry and the future shape of conservation and the parks system. Basic information about the Taskforce is available here.
The outcomes could see VicForests have to curtail its unrestrained 12 year logging orgy in eastern Victoria. It may explain why this govt-owned logging monopoly is not showing the same goodwill that other players are (being a government player VicForests is not ‘inside the room’, but is occasionally brought in to negotiate rescheduling of logging and so on).
The Taskforce identified a number of flashpoints that could endanger the talks. For industry it includes legal actions against logging and for us it includes logging important forests. The first flashpoint flare-up was around the Cottonwood Range. It’s just west of Bendoc and north of the Errinundra Plateau and is a very special area rich in Greater Gliders (a species in serious decline) and many old hollow bearing trees they need. After a mammoth effort by environment reps inside the Taskforce and environment groups outside, we managed to shift the government to ‘facilitate’ VicForests getting out of this forest. Only about a quarter of the forest was logged before this happened. EEG sent a letter to the responsible politicians and our lawyers also sent a letter to VicForests indicating there could be legal issues to be dealt with. It flagged an industry flashpoint and possible political strife ahead.
EEG continues its legal case against VicForests in the Kuark forest area. GECO continues its spotlighting surveys for Gliders, and the environment group reps in the Taskforce continue the hard and often intense slog around the table.