It has been years since tramways were used in the timber industry in Victoria, but I suspect that we still keep an eye on the industry.
Multiple problems with state logging agency, damning audit reveals. Miki Perkins October 8, 2020
An independent audit of Victoria’s state logging operations has found multiple problems, including failures to adequately survey for threatened species, identify old-growth forest or contain post-logging burns.
Months after abandoning its latest attempt in a decade-long effort to gain sustainability certification from the Forest Stewardship Council Australia (FSC), Vicforests quietly released the council's audit report, completed in June, on the agency’s website.
The FSC investigation by independent auditors found VicForests failed to survey for threatened species at both the coupe and landscape level, including consistently failing to detect and protect Leadbeater’s possums and greater gliders.
A protester (top, right) sits in a tree during recent disruptions to logging in Victoria's native forests.
Large, ecologically-mature trees with hollows – used for habitat by endangered species – were observed to have been harvested or pushed over, auditors said.
And VicForests failed to apply conservation measures for threatened species, including forest owls, the Orbost spiny crayfish and barred galaxia fish, the report found. The auditors refused to grant the entry level of FSC certification to VicForests.
In August, the agency announced it had “decided to postpone” its attempt to gain FSC certification by the end of 2020, saying it was concerned it would not be fairly assessed because three of the council’s directors were involved in forest activism.
But Wilderness Society national campaigns director Amelia Young said that in light of the audit report it was “highly inappropriate” for VicForests to blame FSC board members for its failure to get the sustainability tick.
“Rather than take responsibility for its continued failure to gain FSC certification, VicForests has chosen to launch an extraordinary attack on the directors of an organisation formed to encourage sustainable forestry practices,” Ms Young said.
In a statement on its website, VicForests said feedback from the auditors had been incorporated into its ongoing “improvement processes” and the agency remained committed to pursuing the FSC certification process.
The agency is appealing against a landmark Federal Court ruling in May that found it had unlawfully logged areas of critically endangered Leadbeater's possum habitat.
The court decision prompted hardware giant Bunnings to end its timber supply contract with Victoria's logging agency.
On Thursday, the Victorian government asked investors and plantation developers to apply for tenders to expand the state’s plantation timber supply. The government plans to transition away from native forest harvesting to a plantation-based sector by 2030, it said in a statement.
RELATED ARTICLE Salvage logging south of Victoria's Alpine National Park. VicForests ends bid for sustainability tick
CFMMEU lash out at Andrews Government over strategy for plantations in Gippsland
Kieran Rooney October 8, 2020 Herald Sun 23 comments
CFMMEU have lashed out at the state government’s plantation strategy, labelling the scheme to expand timber plantations in East Gippsland as “Trump-like” and claiming it does little for Victoria’s timber workers.
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Newly-released state government plans to expand timber plantations in East Gippsland have been slammed by the CFMMEU, who have labelled the policy “Trump like” and claim it does little for Victoria’s timber workers.
The Andrews Government on Thursday called for expressions of interest to develop new industrial-scale plantations in the region.
It believes the scheme will result in more than 30 million trees being planted over the next decade and increase Gippsland’s existing estates by 35 per cent.
The state government has committed to shutting down the native logging industry in Victoria by 2030.
But in a stunning rebuke, CFMMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor said the government’s plan had little substance and did not provide certainty for timber, pulp and paper workers.
“This is another half-baked re-announcement driven by an unviable ‘Trump like’ plan which is really no more than a mishmash of incoherent talking points” he said.
“We’ve been waiting three and a half years since funding for plantation establishment was announced in the 2017-18 Budget to see a program and we get this joke process instead.”
Native logging is scheduled to end in Victoria by 2030.
The union believe the government’s current plan to transition out of native forests will devastate workers and communities, with new stocks of plantation trees unlikely to be ready for pulping or wood products by 2030 when native logging ends.
“Pretending this scheme will provide a future for workers and timber communities is nothing more than a cruel hoax,” Mr O’Connor said.
Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes said the government’s plan was investing in the industry’s long term future.
“To ensure the best transition to a plantation-based industry, we are investing in new plantations and programs that support innovation, so that these growth markets turn into jobs and economic value for regional communities,” she said.
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