Epic court battle against VicForests continues

30 October 2023

Citizen scientists are continuing their epic three-year battle in the Victorian Supreme Court to protect endangered species from industrial logging.

Wildlife of the Central Highlands Inc (WOTCH) launched legal action against VicForests in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires to protect Greater Gliders, Smoky Mice, Sooty Owls and Powerful Owls from logging in unburnt habitat.

At the time of its launch in January 2020, this was the first court case to protect threatened species in the wake of the bushfires, which destroyed almost six million hectares of forest and an estimated three billion animals nationally.

Represented by Environmental Justice Australia, the group of citizen scientists was granted injunctions to protect substantial areas of Victoria’s forests while the case was being decided.

The group has been back in court as Justice Keogh considers developments since closing submissions for the case were made in April this year, including the announcement by the Victorian Government that it would end native forest logging from 1 January 2024.

During the trial in March this year, it was revealed the Victorian Government has been billed more than $38 million from its logging company in compensation for failing to meet timber supply contracts.

"Our client is keeping up the fight through this challenging legal journey. Cases like this are in the public interest and take hours of legal and scientific work to win. We sifted through hundreds of pages of evidence and engaged some of the best experts and barristers to protect what remains of these vital forests.”

Nicola silbert, eja lawyer

Why do these cases matter?

Court cases by community groups like WOTCH were a key factor in the Victorian Government’s decision to bring forward the end of native forest logging.

Despite the end of native forest logging in Victoria, more than 65,000 hectares of public land is also still on the chopping block beyond 1 January 2024, with logging centred around Benalla, Mansfield, Bendigo, Central and East Gippsland, the Mid-Murray and Western Victoria.

Sixty environment, community and legal organisations recently signed onto a letter calling for Victoria’s new Premier, Jacinta Allan, to wind up VicForests.

We will keep you updated on the outcome of the WOTCH case and ongoing efforts to protect Victoria’s forests and the animals that call the forests home.