In November, the Victorian government announced that logging native forests will end in 2030. The government also committed to state-wide protections for 90,000ha of old growth forests, and 96,000ha of new protected areas, 48,500 of which are in East Gippsland. An action statement for the threatened Greater Glider was also finally released.
An ongoing issue has been the question of how and when the Old Growth would be protected. The state government has now provided details on how this will occur, and this has confirmed fears by environmental groups that protection will be watered down through the methodology that will be used.
East Gippsland based activist group Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) has issued a call for members of the public to engage in the process around Old Growth modelling.
The state run forestry agency ‘VicForests’ has been left in charge of finding and protecting the Old Growth using an inadequate field verification tool which will declassify old growth forest.
The Environment Departments’ Office of Conservation Regulator (OCR) are currently seeking feedback on that tool.
GECO is urging people to email the OCR now, urging it to only require verification in forests outside the existing Old Growth mapping areas, and not allowing VicForests to regulate its own operations around verifying old growth.
‘The OCR’s proposed procedure requires areas already mapped as old growth forests to pass through additional arbitrary tests that rely on subjective choices made by the user, in this case the logging agency VicForests. As a result, the continued mismanagement of old growth forests and the myriad of values contained within them is almost certain to continue in direct contradiction of the government’s stated intention to immediately protect all old growth forests’.