The fifth EPA audit of logging has been released recently and shows that DSE/VicForests is still incapable of ensuring full compliance with the Code of Practice.
The report checked logging done at 41 logging coupes during the 2006/7 financial year and its findings include:
More than 10% of coupes had fires that escaped outside the logging area.
One of the escaped fires burnt part of a Potoroo conservation reserve buffer.
Nearly half of the coupes (four out of nine) with areas of rainforest, did not have rainforest correctly identified (at two of these coupes, VicForests failed to find any rainforest).
The EPA is still finding problems in areas such as landing rehabilitation, stream protection and road construction. These have turned up in each of their previous reports.
When the EPA began these audits, they decided that a coupe with a score of 85% or less had not reached an acceptable level of compliance. Under this definition, around one in eight coupes are not compliant – a totally unacceptable result.
The fact that the same types of problems turn up year after year in these reports makes it pretty clear that DSE/VicForests pay little attention to what the EPA says and have not done enough to stop Code breaches.
For example, in four of the last five audits, the EPA found that DSE/VicForests were not identifying areas of rainforest correctly. Since the audits started, the EPA has checked 28 coupes containing rainforest, but DSE/VicForests failed to correctly identify all the rainforest in 9 of these i.e. about a third had incorrect identifications! Rainforest protection, it appears, is now being run like a lottery.
DSE’s complacency has already resulted in destruction of and damage to rainforest, and it is totally unacceptable that DSE/VicForest is STILL not correctly following procedures for rainforest identification.