Shameless Salvage Bandits

Many astute observers are starting to question the fires that have enveloped Victoria’s east since 2003. This may sound like a conspiracy theory but the evidence seems to be mounting. Many of these areas were deliberately left to burn for a day or two before fire-fighters were sent to attack them or that the back burns were deliberately positioned to include large tracts of the most sought after forests. The ash forests in particular have been heavily targeted by unchecked salvage logging operations after large areas were either lightly or heavily burnt. The ash forests are favoured logging grounds, especially for woodchippers. However access had been reduced in the late 90s after the DSE realised they had historically been over-logged. Putting a “salvage” tag on these favoured forests allows the industry to get back in and go hammer and tong with even fewer regulations.

The area pictured was part of the Moondarra fire and was lit by an arsonist in February 2006. It burnt over 15,000 hectares. Soon after, salvage logging took place in this forest, which is recognized as a Site of State Botanical Significance.

David Lindenmayer and other scientists have publicly spoken against the current practice of salvage logging after a fire. Clearfelling disturbance following wildfire can essentially be more ecologically damaging than the fire itself. It was not the 1939 fire the threatened the Leadbeater’s Possum with extinction, but the 20 years of salvage logging that followed.

The DSE and VicForests have identified 30,000 ha that can have the “salvage” treatment following the 06/07 fires. Over 1 million hectares of habitat will be trying to repair itself, only to have massive mechanical disturbance and compaction to further injure the landscape.

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