Suing government to save the owls
EEG is suing the state government for a fourth time. Legal papers were filed and served on Monday 22nd Sept.
Both VicForests and DEPI are being sued.
Within the 170,000 hectares of forest that the Goongerah-Deddick summer fires burnt out, were 46 protected zones set aside for threatened owls. These areas would also have supported other rare and endangered species.
The law states that the owls (and certain other species) must have a specified area of high quality habitat set aside to ensure their survival. But after these areas were burnt, no authority has bothered to abide by this and VicForests has been clearfelling unburnt and likely owl habitat that could now be vital to the survival of the East Gippsland owl population.
The Powerful, Sooty and Masked owls prefer the same type of habitat that VicForests want – mature and old growth forest with healthy understorey.
Neither minister would commit to halt logging in these unburnt areas while a review was done to identify areas needed for the owl. So, the only thing left was for VicForests and their partner in crime DEPI to be sued.
EEG is asking that all logging stop in the region while this happens, or alternatively, take off the 81 known high value stands of forests planned for clearfelling that have positive owl records in or near them.
Owls that lived in the now burnt zones could have easily perished as they are very territorial. Old growth and other suitable owl habitat are at a premium across the region. That means any surviving owls would have found it difficult to relocated and survive in poorer habitat that doesn’t support a healthy population of their prey species. Each pair of Powerful Owls needs about 3,000-5,000 ha to survive and raise young. Currently the government offers them just 800 ha per pair. And this isn’t even being adhered to with the average being 640 ha.
The response by DEPI to media was that it has in place very good prescriptions for managing threatened species. VicForests response was that they would directly negotiate with EEG and avoid more costly court battles. So they do have the ability to learn it seems – in some areas.