As news emerges that VicForests is logging and burning areas in East Gippsland for research – knowing that the experiment is likely to kill threatened Greater Gliders – court documents confirm legal concerns about the Victorian Government logging agency’s approach to the threatened species.
News reports have revealed that VicForests is intentionally logging forests in East Gippsland where Greater Gliders live in a ‘trial’ to measure the survival rates of the species – which used to be common across south-eastern Australia, but has experienced a population crash in recent years.
VicForests has conceded the research is very likely to kill Greater Gliders, but has continued with it.
The revelations come just two months after the Federal Court ordered an injunction against VicForests to halt logging in five areas that are home to Greater Gliders in Victoria’s Central Highlands, while a case alleging non-compliance with State and Federal environment laws to protect the species continues to trial next year.
The Court wrote on 10 May this year in its reasons for granting the injunction that:
“There is a prima facie case that VicForests does not propose to carry out the forestry operations in a way which will apply the precautionary principle to the conservation of biodiversity values represented by the Greater Glider … The evidence suggests VicForests is prepared to risk losing not only tangible numbers of individual Greater Gliders to pursue its forestry operations, but further to fragment habitat in fact being used by them … in circumstances where, on the present evidence, the available scientific advice indicates that the Greater Glider does not cope well with habitat change, and, although animals may not die from the initial impact, they will usually die shortly afterwards if all or most of their home range is extensively logged…”
VicForests’ defence in this matter argues that its operations in coupes alleged to be home to Greater Gliders ‘did not constitute a serious or irreversible threat to the environment … such that the precautionary principle was not engaged’.
“The news that VicForests is conducting so-called trial logging in Greater Glider habitat knowing full well that its highly likely to kill gliders can mean one of only two things, either those operations are unlawful or our environment laws aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” said Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Danya Jacobs.
“Logging that kills threatened species which are apparently ‘protected’ under State and Federal law cannot be permitted in 21st century Australia,” she said.