Environmental groups are celebrating the end of native forest logging in Victoria, after decades of campaigning by citizen scientists, community groups and Traditional Owners.
The announcement of the end of native forest logging is testament to the efforts of forest protectors and citizen scientists who took action to make sure that VicForests faced consequences for driving threatened wildlife towards extinction.
The news comes days after legal advice commissioned by the Wilderness Society and Environmental Justice Australia showed the government can legally end its wood pulp supply contract, which guarantees the supply of 265,000 cubic metres of predominantly Mountain Ash timber from Wurundjeri, Taungurung and Gunaikurnai Country to the Maryvale Mill in the Latrobe Valley.
For native forest logging to truly end in Victoria, the government needs to end the wood pulp agreement.
Environmental Justice Australia Lawyer Co-CEO Nicola Rivers said:
“Today is an amazing day for all the people who have fought to save threatened species from extinction, whether it was in the court room, in the streets, or in the forest surveying for threatened species.
We thank the Victorians who refused to stand by and let VicForests keep logging native forests in the wake of the bushfires and who kept fighting to save the homes of precious animals.
Victoria’s forests are the lungs of regional communities, are vital to a healthy water supply, provide homes for threatened wildlife, support tourism for local economies, and are critically important carbon sinks.
We are living in a climate and extinction crisis, and protecting Victoria’s forests from logging is essential for fighting both.
After years of court action and campaigning, we give enormous credit to the Andrews Government for finally listening to the science and taking steps towards protecting Victoria’s forests for future generations.
This decision makes so much sense, because for a long time now, the native forest logging industry in Victoria has been completely loss-making. It could not continue without hefty government subsidies.
Funds can now quite rightly go towards supporting workers and their families to transition out of logging.
We urge the government to now act to genuinely end the decades of native forest conflict by creating national parks for these magnificent forests that will see them protected for generations to come.”
Wildlife of the Central Highlands, and their lawyers, Environmental Justice Australia, have spent more than three years in the Supreme Court fighting to protect forests home to Greater Glider, Smoky Mouse, Sooty Owl and Powerful Owl.
This follows a case brought by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum Inc where the Federal Court found in 2020 that logging was permanently destroying habitat critical to the survival of the Leadbeater’s Possum and Greater Glider.
In November 2022, VicForests was found to have logged illegally in breach of environmental protections in two landmark court wins by Environment East Gippsland, Kinglake Friends of the Forest and Warburton Environment. These cases are currently on appeal.
Earlier this year, VicForests was heavily criticised by Victoria’s Information Commissioner for failing to provide information to MyEnvironment’s executive director Sarah Rees in relation to the use of public funds to spy on her. My Environment and other environmental organisations’ tireless work for nearly two decades in fighting to protect forests has contributed immensely to today’s outcome.
VicForests is now relying on so-called ‘salvage logging ‘operations in places like the Wombat Forest while it awaits the outcomes of its court appeals.