That’s a wrap! WOTCH in court

Our mammoth three weeks in court representing Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH) has wrapped!  

We are so grateful for everyone’s support. To everyone who chipped in a donation, shared our posts on social media or followed the case live: thank you for backing us, it meant the world to have you behind us.  

We’ve been reflecting on the last three weeks in the courtroom, and the importance of a case like this. 

On behalf of WOTCH, we launched this case with the Supreme Court at the start of 2020 following the Black Summer bushfires. 

The catastrophic summer bushfires of 2019-2020 destroyed vast swathes of Victoria’s native forests and millions of animals, including threatened wildlife. 

But despite the devastation, the Victorian government’s logging agency – VicForests – continued to log unburnt forests home to threatened wildlife. 

At the time of its launch in January 2020, this was the first court case to protect threatened wildlife in the wake of the bushfires. There are now around eight cases challenging VicForest’s logging operations! 

Cases like these are so important to keep VicForests in check and ensure their operations don’t harm our forests and animals. 

Since WOTCH launched the case 2020, our team has endured lockdowns, remote court hearings and lots of delays in proceedings, but we were finally able to get to court!  

Even though the hearing was online, it was so encouraging to know that people like you were able to watch and support us from the sidelines.  

It was an incredible honour to represent WOTCH, which is run completely by volunteers, as they delivered evidence and were cross-examined as witnesses.  

The courtroom heard observations of animal surveys that WOTCH has conducted on wildlife like the Greater Glider. They also outlined some of the animal habitat found in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland, such as hollow-bearing trees, and how logging was damaging important habitat elements. 

VicForests witnesses were also cross-examined. This highlighted some of the key issues of the case, such as that VicForests hadn’t applied the prescriptions required to avoid damage to habitat in areas where WOTCH had found evidence of Greater Gliders. 

The next step is for WOTCH and VicForests to make their closing submissions. Then, we await a decision from the court! 

I’ll keep you updated on when this might happen.  

Thank you again for your support of our case representing WOTCH. 

Image: WOTCH 

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