On Tuesday 8th of December 2009, legislation to add 45,000 ha of icon old growth forests (including Rainforest Sites of National Significance) to the permanent reserve system in East Gippsland was passed in the Victorian State Parliament. The legislation was passed with unanimous political support. Icon forest areas to be protected include Goolengook, Dingo creek, Big River and Yalmy.
The legislation was supported by both the Liberal and National Party due to the Governments commitment for their to be no timber industry job losses to protect these areas. The Liberal Party went to the last 2006 State election with the same East Gippsland forest policy as the ALP. (See Liberal Party forest policy from 2006.)
The Liberal and National Party members stated their concern the new parks would reduce wood resource and advocated for the logging within Special Protection Zones to compensate for this loss. The Victorian State Government has not yet made a commitment to log Special Protection Zones.
The Greens Party also supported the legislation. However the Greens Party condemned the legislation as a bad compromise stating that only an immediate native forest logging ban on all public land would be acceptable based on the simplistic idea that all timber and woodchips can be sourced from existing plantations.
During the Parliamentary debate the role the Victorian Rainforest Network(VRN) played in securing this great outcome for East Gippsland forests was discussed. The fact that VRN did not support an outright ban on logging in East Gippsland was debated. (See Hansard Victorian Parliament Hansard.)
See Government website for detailed maps and legislation flier.
Download Google Earth overlays of areas to be protected under 2009 legislation here.
In finalising the final East Gippsland reserve system the Victorian State Government has:
1. Link up more bio-diverse high conservation forested landscapes to the existing reserve system.
2. Will add at least 13 Rainforest Sites of Significance to the permanent East Gippsland reserve system.
Many of the areas to be protected have had a long history of conflict and forest protests. This includes the rainforests and old growth at Goolengook and Dingo Creek (Sellers Road).
Spectacular tall old growth ash forests at Yalmy will now be protected. See video of yalmy oldgrowth at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXye6ern9Zs.
Brown Mountain in East Gippsland is currently the focus for many conservation groups at the moment. Unfortunately the State Government recently announced that about 70ha of old growth forests at Brown Mountain will not be included in the new expanded National park reserve system. Forest conservation groups are very disappointed with this decision and continue to campaign to protect all remaining old growth forests at Brown Mountain. (See Environment East Gippsland web site.)