WOMBAT FOREST

About 90% has already been logged over the past 25 years, but before the November 2002 State election, Bracks promised no more woodchipping the Wombat – never ever. Some logging will continue – around 8,500 m3 a year. Congratulations to all who helped get the chippers out.

BUT – the Minister was unwilling to say how the government intends to fulfill the $20 million, 70,000 tonnes a year, seven year legislated Wombat woodchip license. Gippslandís and East Gippslandís forest are the likely sacrifices to help him honour this obligation. And possibly the devastated forests recovering from the fires.

Part of the Wombat sawlog license reduction was made possible by supplying logs from Central Highlands (Melb’s water catchments) with a generous tax-payer funded subsidy to truck the logs around Melbourne to the Wombat. Details are ‘commercial in confidence’.

So the ‘saving’ of a 36,000 ha hammered regrowth forest requires shifting all the woodchipping and at least half the sawlogging to the tall forests of the Central Highlands and Gippsland, with the public’s money.

But on the bright side it means the Western RFA is dead. An end to woodchipping in the Wombat, the promise of a national park for the Otways (way down the track) and logging stopped in the far west of Victoria around Portland, are all at odds with what the RFA promised. So it follows the Queensland and Western Australian RFAs to the historic document section of the Commonwealth library. May there be more to follow.

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