Greg Barber, Greens member for Northern Metro, asked Environment Minister Gavin Jennings what controls have been put in place given the significant number of fires caused by salvage logging operations in November in the Central Highlands. These fires started when dry logs dragged across others on the ground, amongst logging debris, generated heat enough to ignite fires. In his reply the Minister stated:
“because there have been some incidents where salvage logging has been associated with the outbreak of small, isolated fires in recent times. I am pleased to say these have not had a great impact on the environment, nor have they put lives and assets at risk.”
So far so good – but what if they HAD have caused serious damage to the forest, homes and even lives? After much rambling by the Minister and prompting from Greg Barber Gavin Jennings continued:
“we have placed some restrictions on the ways in which that work can be undertaken. That has been done in a collaborative fashion. The restrictions are applied according to certain triggers in relation to environmental conditions. We have ensured that there will be an additional emergency firefighting response capability that is associated with VicForests’ operation to make sure it is prepared for these contingencies – there are rules that apply. There are understandings in relation to the codification of the forest fire danger index and when it will apply in terms of curtailing logging activity, and there is an expectation that that will be adhered to.
So we can all relax now. VicForests will self-regulate and can even operate on days of total fire ban.