We have to wonder if we are in Indonesia or Australia sometimes. The latest incidents of government foresters approving illegal logging is in the Red Gum Forests at Barmah on the Murray River and in the Central Highlands.
World Water Week began on 20th of August – the same day that conservationists from the Central Highlands made the shocking discovery of illegal logging in Melbourne’s most important water supply catchment. DSE forest managers marked and approved this operation – as in most other illegal logging operations that have been discovered over the years. Prosecutions and/or sackings must follow. Forester collusion or incompetence can no longer be tolerated and excused. The other option is to stop logging catchments.
There are minimal government standards to protect water quality but even these have been violated. The law states there is to be no logging from the 1st May until the 30th Nov each year to avoid run-off during winter that will send mud and silt into Melbourne’s drinking water supplies (country town water supplies don’t get such consideration).
Logging is forbidden during the wettest months to reduce the risk of dirty water and contamination. Sediment caused by logging reduces the effectiveness of chlorination, allowing waterborne diseases such as Giardia to thrive. Sarah Rees from The Central Highland’s Alliance also found that logging coupe plans have never had this area mapped meaning the logging was approved but was in every way illegal.
Friends of the Earth sleuths uncovered an area where a contractor was instructed to illegally log four hectares outside an approved coupe boundary.
Less than 2% of Barmah’s logging operations have been audited but already eight potential breaches have been reported. Breaches include illegal logging of six old growth Red Gums, crucial habitat for species like the threatened Squirrel Glider, Brush-tailed Phascogale and Superb Parrot. Not long ago a private land owner was told to pay a $10,000 bond and replant 1,000 trees for cutting down 28 old red gums on his property without permission (if not he could be liable of a fine up to $100,000).
Jill / TCHA / FOE