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Secret export of sawlogs destroys native forests, betrays Victorian communities

It is not illegal to log Native Forests in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, or Western Australia and since there is no demand here in Australia whole logs are being shipped to China.

Thousands of tonnes of high-quality sawlogs from Victoria’s bushfire-devastated Central Highlands forests (near Healesville) are being secretly shipped to China, against state government policy, The Wilderness Society has revealed.

“Whole sawlogs have never been exported from Victoria before, the practice has always been banned to protect Australian jobs in the local timber industry” said The Wilderness Society’s Victorian Campaigns Manager Richard Hughes. Read More

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Thousands of tonnes of high-quality sawlogs from Victoria’s bushfire-devastated Central Highlands forests (near Healesville) are being secretly shipped to China, against state government policy, The Wilderness Society has revealed.

“Whole sawlogs have never been exported from Victoria before, the practice has always been banned to protect Australian jobs in the local timber industry” said The Wilderness Society’s Victorian Campaigns Manager Richard Hughes.

“Governments of all stripes have always justified logging of native forests on the grounds that it creates jobs here in Victoria, but now even that pretence is being thrown out the door.” 

“The mountain ash forests fof the Central Highlands are essential habitat for the critically endangered Leadbeaters possum, which is threatened by logging.”

The Victorian Timber Industry Strategy states that all native forest sawlogs must be processed in Australia, and this is reflected in sales contracts between the state-owned timber company VicForests and timber buyers.

“VicForests is responsible for implementing the ban on whole log exports, but it appears they have allowed the system to be rorted. We find it very hard to believe that VicForests didn’t know this was going on.”

“VicForests appear to be out of control on this issue. The State Government should immediately act to protect the Victorian environment and jobs by ordering VicForests to stop supplying logs to the operators of this export racket.”

“There should also be an immediate halt to the so-called bushfire salvage logging operation since there is clearly no economic benefit for Victoria, and it is causing major environmental damage. 

“The fact that the Victorian native timber industry has stooped to exporting whole sawlogs confirms that the domestic market for native sawlogs is drying up, and logging these forests is just not economically viable. 

“We should be accelerating the shift to a plantation based industry, not selling our precious forests overseas so log dealers can make a quick buck” said Mr Hughes.

An investigation by The Wilderness Society and My Environment discovered that the logs are being taken from forests in the Central Highlands affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, and trucked to Melbourne’s docks where they are loaded into containers for export.

Expert scientists have criticised the bushfire salvage logging, saying it threatens the survival of the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, and is doing more damage to forests that are already struggling to recover from the fires.

“When the post-bushfire salvage logging began, the Government told Victorians it had to be done to provide work for people in the local communities affected by the fires,” said local conservationists and spokesperson for My Environment Sarah Rees. 

“Now we discover those communities have been betrayed, and the timber has been shipped overseas with very little benefit coming back to the local area.”

“We’ve sold our native forests, and the tiny Leadbeater’s Possum for a handful of silver, nothing more” said Ms Rees.