Campaigners against logging score a temporary win

Contributed by Joe Montero

The Federal Court has put an injunction on VicForests slowing logging in Victoria’s Central Highlands. The court action was the latest, of an ongoing campaign by opponents of the logging on 14 coupes within the region.

Another 5 court cases pending, all of which are being paid for through crowdfunding donations. Last month, the Federal Court found that a critically endangered possum habitat has been logged.

Photo by Justin McManus: The critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum lives in tree hollows in Victoria’s central highlands

The Supreme Court case flows on to at least 65 contested coupes throughout the state.

Jonathan Korman, acting for Kinglake Friends of the Forest, told the court that VicForests intended to destroy the 20-metre wide vegetation buffer coupes within the Central Highlands. This is a direct contravention of logging regulations, he said.

“The loss of the buffer is a serious loss of amenity to users of the forest … and causes an eyesore for generations to come.”

The injunction only lasts to 14 July, when VicForests will be allowed to present a new case to the court.

Logging has become a hotter topic in Victoria lately, as incursions into forests increased. This has resurrected the debate over protection of flora and fauna, some of which is unique and endangered.

The kind of damage caused by logging

Choices must be made between jobs and conservation, some argue. Logging interests have been pressuring the Labor Party and therefore the Victorian government to open up opportunities for expansion.

The reality is that this is a a false argument. Logging actually damages the local economy and therefore costs jobs.

Environmental Economic Accounts: A case study in the Victorian Central Highlands

Video from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub

It remains that protection of the forests is vital to protect threatened species.

For humans, it is vital to protect more than an amenity. Forests protect the soil form degradation and erosion and are important for food and water security. Destroy the forest. The land becomes less productive and drier within the context of global warming.

Like the nation as a whole, Victoria needs an extensive land management plan, which considers farming sustainability and wilderness areas together, to work symbiotically: To protect the land and at the same time, provide for the needs of the human population.

Part of the package must be a just transition for those earning their livelihood from logging and other associated occupations. Their protection is important.

Victoria doesn’t have such a plan. Ad hock decisions are made, without real connection to the bigger context. Conflict is inevitable.

Those going in to cut down trees and those trying to stop them are not really enemies. There have been efforts to work together. Many more are needed. Working together to achieve a common goal of preservation and the protection of livelihoods is the only way towards success.

A contribution could be a public works program for reforestation. Another could be to timber plantations. Much more must be invested in the growth of environmentally sustainable agriculture. This could help turn around the falling fortunes of the industry.

Raising further initiatives already existing in some areas would help enormously. Change must be built form the ground up.

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