Sounds of a wild night in the forest

ABC, Saturday 3 January 2015 

For Off Track's summer season, we've selected the coolest of sounds from the year's programs, and nothing is cooler than the sound of a rainforest.

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Tasmania's giant ash trees may be the world's tallest

Jane Palmer, BBC Earth

Stephen Sillett's laboratory is dangling 90 metres above the ground. It is an intricate web of ropes and instruments strung up in the branches of a tree. And in the windy conditions that plague Tasmania's forests, it can be distinctly precarious.

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VicForests given control of commercial logging before state election campaign

Josh Gordon, State Political Reporter, The Age, November 25, 2014

The Napthine government quietly handed control of Victoria's western forests to state's commercial logging business in one of its final acts before the election campaign.

Just days before the caretaker period began on November 4, Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh transferred all commercial timber harvesting west of the Hume Highway to VicForests. That means it will no longer be managed by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI).

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Environment fails to feature at upcoming Victorian election

Nardine Groch and Sara Phillips, ABC Environment, November 24, 2014

After featuring strongly at the last state election, the environment appears to have fallen off the radar at the upcoming Victorian state election.

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Letters in the Sunday Age

Sunday Age, 23rd November, 2014

All about targets

Environment Minister Ryan Smith can't be serious when he claims the Coalition has a risk-based approach to fire management ("Extinction threat laid on fire policy", 16/11). Despite the listing of the Mallee emu wren under the Flora and Fauna Act, the Coalition failed to develop an action plan for its protection despite a massive expansion of native forest burning under the banner of "hazard reduction". In fact most of the Mallee burning in remote areas contributes little to improving the safety of lives and property. The government is just interested in burning vast areas to meet bureaucratic "targets". That the Coalition has forced another species to the edge is a  lamentable record that turns a spotlight on its environmental  mismanagement.

Dean Wotherspoon, Northcote

Owls in danger

 Three species of owls are in danger of extinction because the state government has failed to protect their forest habitat. The powerful and sooty owls are listed as vulnerable and the masked owl as endangered.

The forests of the Gippsland region are a stronghold for the owls because of the old age of the trees. Suitable hollows form in the eucalypt trees when they are at least 150-200 years of age. Bushfires earlier this year burnt 170,000 hectares of their forest habitat. Yet after the fires, the government has not set aside more protected forests for these owl species. Since European settlement, more than 65 per cent of Victoria's forest cover has been cleared. This loss of habitat has led to an overall decline in owl numbers and fragmentation of their population. 

Steven Katsineris, Hurstbridge

Park option favoured

Peter Fagg (Letters, 16/11), the Leadbeater's Possum Advisory Group concluded that the Great Forest National Park (action 13) was indeed the best action government could take to save the possum from extinction, but that option was dismissed under Water Minister Peter Walsh's  terms of reference. 

Sarah Rees, Healesville

David Attenborough and Jane Goodall join the fight to create a new national park in Victoria

Oliver Milman, The Guardian, Nov 11, 2014. 

Supporters of the proposed Great Forest national park say the entire central highlands’ ecosystem, the fate of the emblematic Leadbeater’s possum and the economic future of struggling towns are at stake as the state election approaches.

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Letters in the Sunday Age

The Sunday Age, November 9, 2014

Anyone for park policy?

It should have been embarrassment, rather than surprise, that colleagues of Nationals' deputy leader Peter Walsh felt when he declared at a forestry industry dinner (where else?) that, just as for the environment, the Coalition has no policy for any new national parks (“Prickly over parks policy”, 2/11).

Similarly, state Labor should feel acutely embarrassed that it can give no coherent, consistent policy position on new national parks such as the Great Forest National Park proposal. The state's pre-eminent scientific organisation, the Royal Society of Victoria, has declared such a park vital to prevent the extinction of our state faunal emblem, the Leadbeater's possum, and the destruction of our ancient mountain ash forests that rival the grandeur of California's ancient redwood forests. The ALP is, apparently, “formulating policy on the issue” 27 days out from the election. Meanwhile, the Greens are committed to the Great Forest National Park.

Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk

Extinction a certainty

Peter Walsh's spokeswoman failed to point out that the members of the Leadbeater's Possum Advisory Group were all employees of government-funded bodies or industry representatives. With terms of reference that mandated continuation of clearfell logging it is no surprise the group's 13 recommendations will lock in the extinction of the state's faunal emblem. Of the $11 million allocated for implementation, more than $7 million will be given to VicForests.

Steve Meacher, Toolangi

A death wish

It seems to me the Coalition has no interest in being re-elected. I have always voted for it but not a week passes in which it doesn't announce an unpopular or daft policy or idea. It's time the government put the environment first and national parks are part of that push. If the government won't listen to the people, it will soon find itself in opposition.

David Love, North Balwyn

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The battle to save the Leadbeater’s possum from logging

Michelle Slater, The Saturday Paper, Nov 8, 2014.

The average punter knows very little about logging in Victoria. Perhaps even fewer realise it could drive the state’s animal emblem out of existence. 

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Leadbeater’s possum habitat ‘almost certain to collapse’ due to logging, fires

Oliver Milman, The Guardian, November 7, 2014.

ANU researchers have found at least a 92% chance Victoria central highlands ecosystem will collapse within 50 years.

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Environment group takes Victorian government to court over owl reserves

Oliver Milman, The Guardian, November 6, 2014

Environment East Gippsland launches fourth legal action against government, this time over the provision of owl habitats.

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