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Environment group takes VicForests to court for breaking the law

Environment group takes VicForests to court for breaking the law

Victorian law requires that the endangered species in Brown Mountain’s National Estate forests be protected. Sadly, large chunks of its habitat and wildlife have been destroyed since 1989. The government won’t look for the species unless volunteers identify them first. Last January and again in August, various rare and endangered wildlife species were found by volunteers. This should mean instant protection. But it hasn’t. VicForests and the DSE appear to be ignoring the legislation. Environment East Gippsland (EEG) had no option left but to take the government to the Supreme Court.

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For a comprehensive summary of the facts surrounding the case click here

for the latest updates on the case click here

The Brown Mountain landmark trial has begun!

After months of preparation, our legal team and supporters have gathered in Sale and begun the two-week Brown Mountain landmark trial.

Everything is going very well so far. It’s difficult to report on a hearing that is in progress, particularly since we are the plaintiff, so this article might lack a few things.

Our lead barrister, Debbie Mortimer SC, spent Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in Court outlining what we say are the facts and the law, in a fascinating opening submission.

She spoke about the beautiful native wildlife that is central to our case, and the Court was treated to large pictures of the critters. It was almost surreal, but quite appropriate in our view, to see a team of lawyers in black gowns and wigs defending the furry, the feathered, the cray and the frog.

She said that VicForests has a number of legal responsibilities towards the environment, including endangered species, and that those responsibilities are inconsistent with logging at Brown Mountain.

For a more detailed summary of the first day’s hearing, read this excellent article by The Age journalist Kate Hagen, who is attending the hearing  Click here  Journalists from ABC Radio and Win TV (channel 9) are also attending the hearings.

VicForests’ lead barrister, Ian Waller SC, started outlining VicForests’ case this afternoon. When Court adjourned today, he said he still had about an hour to go, so we haven’t got the full picture yet.

But generally speaking he contended that VicForests’ responsibility to the environment wasn’t anywhere near as strong as we made out, and was balanced by its requirement to create economic and social benefits. He said that, to the extent to which VicForests has responsibilities to the environment and native wildlife, it has fulfilled them.

Today (Wednesday), Justice Osborn and the legal teams are having a look at Brown Mountain first hand. It’s not just a bush walk, though; they will observe first hand some places and concepts about forests, logging and post-logging practices that will later on be discussed in Court.

On Thursday morning, VicForests’ opening submissions will finish, then Environment East Gippsland will bring out their witnesses.

Court is open to the public. You are welcome to attend if you are in Sale – there have been a few people sitting quietly in the public area. If you drop in, please come up and say hello.

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Stateline takes a look at the evidence behind the Brown Mountain Logging case

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