Otway Ranges Environment Network



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VAFI acknolwledges RFA's are vulnerable

Timber Industry Push
Industry seeks security
Colac Herald (page 6)
20 September 2002

The Victorian Association of Forest Industries is investing $250,000 in a push for legislation to give more security to the logging industry, including logging operations in the Otway Ranges.

            The association wants legislation to maintain the balance between conservation areas and areas open for logging.

            Association spokesman Pat Wilson said Victoria’s forests faced a bleak future without legislation.

            Mr Wilson said three quarters of the Otway Ranges forest was protected and Department of Natural Resources and Environment research indicated this proportion was more than enough for a sustainable Otways logging industry

            Mr Wilson said it was important to protect logging with legislation because the status of the timber industry among political parties was often fickle.

            “Despite comprehensive agreements signed by Labor and Coalition parties at state and federal levels laying out the conservation reserves and general management areas, timber harvesting areas can and are withdrawn from schedules at a whim,” Mr Wilson said. Logging industry could face more cutbacks in the lead-up to the next state election.

            Mr Wilson said logging could be cut back even further than the government’s 30 per cent reduction program.

            “Even in the lead up to the state election, I’ve no doubt some in the major parties are considering jettisoning sound environmental policy and the interests of forest industry communities for the prospect of a handful of green votes,” Mr Wilson said.

‘For instance, in the Otways, there is about 156,000 hectares of public forests in reserves, and about 75 per cent is in conservation areas,” Mr Wilson said.

            “The latest research by the NRE of the sustainable yields of the Otways indicated there was about 35,000 hectares available for timber harvesting, and that’s over a 60 to 80 year rotation,” he said.

            “Somewhere around 250 hectares is harvested each year and regenerated, which is considerably less than one per cent.”

            But the timber industry push has outraged logging opponents.

            Otway ranges Environment Network spokesman Simon Birrell said the campaign for legislation was “disgraceful” and “a blatant attempt to protect woodchipping”.

                        Mr Birrell said the association of forest industries was twisting figures to make the rainforest in the Otways seem larger than it actually was.

            ‘Part of that 75 per cent actually covers area like the land on top of the Twelve Apostles, and lots of heathland which has no economic value, so it’s included in conservation areas,” Mr Birrell said.

            “From the percentage of how much wet, tall mountain forest is in reserve, there’s only about 20 per cent ’that’s not available for logging,” he said.

            Mr Birrell said the campaign was an attempt to validify wholesale destruction of Victoria’s rainforests by woodchipping,


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