Vicforests tries to get green tick for logging endangered forests

VicForests is pursuing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for the third time in decade. The internationally recognised certification label regards itself as having strict environmental standards, which specify that logging cannot threaten endangered species, old growth forest and rainforest.

Previous audits of VicForests found a number non conformances to the FSC standards. Today our affiliates GECO joined the auditors in the forest to demonstrate VicForests non conformance to the standard and the impacts of logging on threatened wildlife and old growth forest in East Gippsland.

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In September we launched the Lawless logging report with GECO and FFRC. The report documented 27 cases of logging that has breached legal protection for rare wildlife and rainforest.

The FSC standards require logging to be compliant with local laws and management and planning requirements. It also prohibits logging that threatens High Conservation Value forests.

We submitted an appendix to the Lawless logging report detailing how each case is relevant to the FSC standards a major non conformance. Our report documents logging that has occurred in breach of environment protection laws and severley threatened High Conseration Values such as old growth forest, rainforest and habitat for endangered species. Read our submission here.

Appendix to the Lawless logging report submitted to auditors SCS Global 

Research, presented a joint conference of the Australian and New Zealand ecological societies in the Hunter Valley this week, reveals that if VicForests does not stop logging, its operations could trigger collapse of the Mountain Ash ecosystem.

 

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Photo: Logging of Mountain Ash forests in the proposed Great Forest National Park (Chris Taylor)

The researchers, Dr Emma Burns and Professor David Lindenmayer, both from the ANU, say that logging is completely incompatible with the ecosystem’s survival, and that there is no way to sustainably log the Mountain Ash forest. They have warned that unless the Victorian government intervenes and stops logging Victoria’s Central Highlands, there will be an ecosystem-wide collapse by 2067.

Old growth logging continues in East Gippsland. Proceedings are currently underway in the Supreme Court, after it granted an injunction to stop logging in the ancient Kuark Forest. Conservation research group, the Flora and Fauna Research Collective (FFRC), is arguing that the Andrews government has not set aside the required amount of old-growth forest from logging.

The lawfulness of VicForests’ logging is continually being tested in court. There are systemic problems with VicForests complying with Victorian and Australian laws applicable to forests and logging.

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Photo: GECO campaigners tour FSC auditors through logged old growth forest.

Protected rainforest areas are repeatedly logged by VicForests, in breach of Victorian laws. Several rainforest logging operations have been forced to a halt after public complaints were lodged. These high profile operations are under active investigation by forestry regulator Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

If VicForests cannot meet their state based obligations to protect rainforest, they cannot expect to be given the international green tick of approval.

Protecting wildlife is critical to getting FSC’s gold standard. Given the importance of the forests of the Central Highlands and East Gippsland as habitat for threatened animals—like the Greater Glider and large forest owls—we expect SCS Global to undertake independent assessments of threatened species likely to occur in VicForests logging zones.