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Environment East Gippsland settles with Victorian DELWP over owls

Kath Sullivan for The Weekly Times, Friday 17th July 2015.

LOGGING will be put on hold in parts of Victoria’s forests to protect three species of threatened owl.

In an out-of-court settlement today, green group Environment East Gippsland, VicForests and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning agreed to terms that will see increased protection of owl species that are threatened under the flora and fauna guarantee.

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Kath Sullivan for The Weekly Times, Friday 17th July 2015.

LOGGING will be put on hold in parts of Victoria’s forests to protect three species of threatened owl.

In an out-of-court settlement today, green group Environment East Gippsland, VicForests and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning agreed to terms that will see increased protection of owl species that are threatened under the flora and fauna guarantee.

Environment East Gippsland spokeswoman Jill Redwood said the group had argued that not enough had been done to protect the sooty, masked or powerful owls after bushfires last year destroyed significant habitat in east Gippsland.

“We are pleased that the Government accepts there needs to be more work done to ensure our large forest owls survive,” Ms Redwood said.

“We will be keeping a close eye on the progress of the department’s work over the next year.”

Ms Redwood estimated the area preserved for owls covered close to 2000ha of forest.

DELWP spokeswoman Nina Cullen said the settlement would “result in improved protection for forest owls in east Gippsland”.

“This is a good outcome because it increases protection for large forest owls and provides certainty for future timber harvesting operations without the parties incurring what would have been significant costs from a court case, “ Ms Cullen said.

A statement from DELWP explained the deal would:

INCREASE the area of the 100 powerful owl management areas from 500ha to 800ha.

CREATE a special protection zone over Brown Mountain to protect the whole area.

PLACE a moratorium on VicForests timber harvesting in three coupes until November 30, this year and a further sixteen coupes until 31 May 2019.

Ms Redwood said that VicForests and DELWP would meet part of Environment East Gippsland’s costs as part of the settlement.

“This is our fourth successful case against the Government to compel it to comply with its own environment protection laws.” Ms Redwood said.

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