After the 2006 state election, John Thwaites and Steve Bracks promised to protect East Gippsland’s old growth while not reducing what was there for loggers to cut – an impossible task.
John Thwaites put a couple of industry supporters in charge of this little job. Meanwhile, other logging lobbyists were demanding more areas of old growth be given to them, including the logging of Special Protection Zones. EEG wrote to the Minister warning them not to go near this option. We received a non-committal reply.
Then Premier Bracks and Minister Thwaites bailed out together and left the mess in the hands of the new Premier, John Brumby, and Minister, Gavin Jennings.
The maps of areas planned for protection were either given to the logging lobbyists to fill in, were not double checked by botanists, or both. Almost all the ones west of the Snowy River are absolute struggling rubbishy sparse regeneration that even the loggers would sniff at. It’s THAT bad.
Brumby and Jennings have been cautious about changing these areas on the map. But if they leave them as they are, there is ample evidence that their “significant stands of old growth” are in fact clapped-out regrowth that is both grazed and burnt. John Renowden from the VNPA spent many weeks up in East Gippsland documenting and photographing these disconnected patches.
The Brumby government has to stop playing tootsies with the declining but demanding woodchip-driven industry and protect forests. The ALP can no longer keep protecting the industry that destroys critical carbon sinks for a handful of jobs, especially while it also burns millions of tonnes of coal.
We would love to see Gavin Jennings and John Brumby do a turnaround and reassess Victoria’s forest destruction in light of the urgent climate crisis.