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Opinion pieces by the team.

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Australia’s scrambled egg of government: who has the environmental power?

Logical minds like to think of the different levels of government like a neatly layered cake, but the reality is more like scrambled eggs. Nowhere is that more true than in relation to protecting and managing the environment.

The Conversation 5/12/2012

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Saving Australian endangered species – a policy gap and political opportunity

The Conversation | 22 November 2012

Tim Flannery, in his Quarterly Essay After the Future, is right to deplore the sudden abrogation of responsibility for threatened species by state and federal governments. The tragedy is that neglecting endangered species is the wrong thing to do on so many counts. It does not reflect the popular will of the people. And it is counter to what is happening elsewhere in the world.

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A quick look at a mounting debt

Steve Meacher

For the fifth year running, the state government's native forest logging arm, VicForests, has failed to return a dividend to the people of Victoria. This dividend is the sum the business is supposed to pay the state for the privilege of being allowed to log in publicly-owned forests.

The latest failure to pay a dividend is revealed in VicForests' 2012 Annual Report, tabled in Parliament last week. Each year the amount to be paid is determined "after consultation with the Treasurer" and for the last five years it has been assessed at "$Nil". Dividends have been paid in only two years out of eight since the corporation split from the DSE in 2004. In the 2011 Report it was "proposed to pay a dividend of $1,260,000 in October 2011," but this remains unpaid. VicForests are a slush fund for Nippon owned Reflex copy paper and the work for the dole loggers. Cheaper to send them to Bali to retire that continue this outrageous program whilst our are forced to TAFEs close. Where is Ms Fyffe of this?

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A local menu of politics, elections and woodchips

Sarah Rees

Reading a story from the Leader I pondered a response to MP Christine Fyffe’s unsurprising bellow for protection of the native logging industry. The story clearly sets up some self promotion for the local elections and would-be wood-chip councillors for the Shire of Yarra Ranges, with Coalition leader Christine Fyffe at the helm. Fyffe has strong historical links to Reid Bro’s native sawmill and is a long term lobbyists for loggers yet she has been silent on the closure of our major local education institution - Swinburne TAFE and cuts to CFA funding. While Fyffe piously defends the insolvent VicForests and it’s limpids, if the Coalitions wood-chip mob are elected to Council the Yarra Ranges may be better named Shire of Reflex Ranges - owned by Nippon Paper.

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AFS - Tick for the Status Quo

Salvage Logging Marysville

The Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) is currently stamped on wood from endangered species' habitat in Victoria. The AFS has also been stamped on wood from unlawful sources in Victoria when VicForests breached its allocation. For these reasons and others relating to stakeholder engagement, the AFS fails to protect our forests because it sets a low threshold of performance and endorses standard logging practices, which are considered a threat to endangered species. The auditing of the AFS for companies like VicForests has been insular, made weaker by the absence of a rotation system of auditors. The companies' certificates are not subject to rigorous third party scrutiny and in the case of VicForests, they are not made available to the public. Read more

Tigers, orangutans and our own Leadbeater's Possum at risk from logging

Logging is endangering species around the world, not just here at home.  As we fight to maintain habitat for our endangered Leadbeater's Possum we also have to ensure that timber being imported from overseas is sustainable.  Illegal and immoral logging practices worldwide are being highlighted more often it seems.  Lets hope this increase in awareness will bring much needed change both here and around the world.  Remember, without demand there will be no drive to supply.

Click here to see an clip from the ABC's 7:30 Report about the protecting the orangutan's habitat

Click here to see a clip from the ABC's Foreign Correspondent titled Paper Tiger featuring the threat to the Sumatran tiger.

VicForests’ excuses unconvincing

Jill Redwood

Monday 13th June 2011

The recent exposé of the export of high quality whole logs to China has shown one more of the many underhanded and hypocritical operations that VicForests manages. Environment East Gippsland has accused VicForests of either colluding with their log customer’s illicit trade or being hopelessly incompetent as the government’s corporate forest manager.

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Letter to the Editor - Herald Sun

Dear editor,

In June, 2010 over 300 local residents packed the Healesville Memorial Hall for presentations on the destruction of the public forests of the Victorian Central Highlands. The call from the floor was, "VicForests are no good for the forests; no good for themselves; no good for us and no good for Victoria - they should just be closed down!" So Minister Peter Walsh might receive plenty of local support for his "threat" (Council gags on Reflex vow, Herald Sun, May 21) to Yarra Ranges Council to not further expand VicForests presence in our town - though not the support he might have wished for.

Nevertheless, the principle that a State Minister should seek to bully a council to spend ratepayers' money on a product the council doesn't want to buy, under threat of removal of local jobs, is one that should raise the hackles of every Victorian. Such juvenile, though brutal, tactics do not befit a senior minister. Minister Walsh is a disgrace - he should either apologise or resign.


Steve Meacher

Toolangi  Vic     3777

Have your say - send a letter to the Herald Sun Editor

Numbers add up

The Age Letters
27 January 2011

IN THE article ''Minister challenges logging advice'' (The Age, 24/1), Forestry Minister Peter Walsh gives a welcome commitment to examine the status of endangered species in areas exposed to logging.

While the minister appears unaware of the Department of Sustainability and Environment's science up until his appointment, basic skills in maths should make light work of this investigation. Mr Walsh says he ''find(s) it hard to understand how such a small area of logging can have such a big impact''.

Some 70 per cent of the ash forests in this state - the wood the chippers are after and home to many of Victoria's endangered species - is available for logging. Logging is taking out between 2 and 3 per cent of these forests each year. Given that intensive ash logging has taken place since the 1950s, how many years of logging will it take to reduce 70 per cent of the old ash forest to young saplings incapable of housing hollow-dependent mammals?

Couple this with fires in an average of 40 per cent of the ash forest in national parks and, bingo, you have an extinction crisis.

Sarah Rees, Healesville