Victorian Rainforest Network
Press Release

Friday 17th March 2006

Draft Code of Forest Practice proposes to stop
logging in East Gippsland near rainforest sites

Today the Victorian Rainforest Network has welcomed changes to the draft Code of Forest Practices that propose to protect core areas within rainforest sites of National Significance in East Gippsland. In total there are about 100 Rainforest Sites of Significance (RSOS) in East Gippsland which area rated as being of National, State or Regional significance. Only a third of these sites are within dedicated reserves such as National Parks, the rest are located within State Forest.

At stake is a 480 ha area of very contentious forest within the East Gippsland State Forest area (some of this area has already been logged) located with 10 National RSOS. The proposal means the national sites will have the buffers to protect against logging increased to a sub-catchment level to protect core rainforest stands.

Rainforest covers only 9,600 ha or less than 1% of all the public land in East Gippsland.

"The Victorian Rainforest Network (VRN) has been working for the past three years with government processes to amend the Code of Forest Practice. If these proposed changes stick, this will be a small win for the environment. There are currently at least five areas (coupes) currently scheduled to be logged within the 480ha buffer area that will not go ahead if these changes occur" said spokesperson Simon Birrell for the Victorian Rainforest Network.

"VRN has argued that the existing Code already required a logging ban in these areas but a level of ambiguity within the current Code has meant Forestry Victoria could ignore the existing Code prescriptions and log these areas. Now the new draft Code acknowledges there is ambiguity in the current Code and proposes to protect these areas once and for all."

"Unfortunately about 15% of this 480 ha area in East Gippsland has already been clearfell logged over the past ten years. This includes places where very bitter confrontations between conservationists and the native forest logging industry have occurred. They include protests at Dingo creek in 2001 and Goolengook in 2002."

"VRN tried unsuccessfully though correspondence to get Forest Victoria to postpone logging at Dingo creek. VRN argued that logging would pre-empt planning decisions as there was a good chance the Code review would increase buffers. This was ignored and a 40 ha area within the National RSOS in the Dingo Creek area was logged as recently as last year."

"The whole management of all 180 RSOS across Victoria has never been made publicly transparent by the government. These are ecologically very important places that need an independent umpire to decide how they should be managed."