Out of the blue came an announcement at the end of June that three endangered species will gain some protection in Gippsland and the North East by 75,000 ha of reserves.
Despite other enviro groups singing the government’s praises we were a little more careful (being hardened sceptics). When we looked into this we found that 65,000 of the 75,000 ha were already in parks and reserves.
There is still some good news though. The declining population of Baw Baw Frogs have gained 5,500 ha and the endangered Leadbeaters Possum in the Central Highlands seems to have gained an additional 4,000 ha.
The Long-footed Potoroo in East Gippsland does not appear to have won any new habitat above existing reserves and Parks. We’re still not sure about North East’s forests.
The endangered Spot-tailed Quoll, Gippsland’s three large forest owls – the Masked, Sooty and Powerful, and our old growth are hopefully next in line for recognition and let’s hope, decent protection rather than re-branding existing reserves as new owl refuges. These and other species’ habitats are currently being clearfelled with full approval of Mr Brumby.
Conservation announcement with no public input
Environment Minister, Gavin Jennings, said the “package of measures”– (whatever they are), “came after detailed consultations between the Department of Sustainability and Environment and VicForests.” But they didn’t consult any environment groups. The government’s media statement said it was nice to see the logging and conservation sides of government working things out (!) “while also giving the timber industry greater certainty with a steady, sustainable supply of timber from Victoria’s eastern forests.” This is the bit we don’t like the sound of. Just what have been the secret trade-offs to keep the industry quiet for the new 10,000 ha? When do we hear about this side of it? Or – being even more cynical – was this new branding of existing reserves simply a means to give the logging industry more more more while giving us diddely-squat?
The government must expect this response after having badly scarred us and our forests for the last 30 years.
This promise was hard to be joyous about. Gavin Jennings said, “ this action statement will ensure they (rainforests) will be better protected from fire, land clearing, timber harvesting and road impacts and weed invasion.” But have a look at the story on page 9 of dodgy rainforest identification and therefore clearing. This latest rainforest protection mainly deals with the threat of myrtle wilt in the Otways – almost 20 years after it was identified as a threat.
The June EPA annual logging audit report showed that breaches against protected rainforests were STILL the most common breach of the logging code.
However it’s great news for the little frog and the “Leddies’. Let’s hope they keep hanging on.