XR tells Government-owned VicForests: Stop destroying native forests immediately. Just STOP IT

XR tells Government-owned VicForests: Stop destroying native forests immediately. Just STOP IT

Extinction Rebellion Australia, 19 Oct 2022

Climate and forest activists from around Victoria rallied at the Bourke Street office of VicForests today to demand an immediate end to logging native forests and a just transition for forest workers. Several koalas were arrested.

Protesters brought leafy branches and potted native trees to transform Bourke St into something resembling a re-afforestation project. Endangered native animals, including the greater glider, had - at least for an afternoon - a new forest home in Bourke St.

Forest protecters rally in the CBD

Koalas took refuge high above the road in tripods, to avoid destructive government policy in the form of a chainsaw-wielding Dan Andrews. A group of gliders, possums and more koalas locked on to forest-themed barrels in support.

Protester dressed in a koala suit hanging from a high tripod

VicForests is trashing our native forests while also losing taxpayer money hand over fist - around $20 million last year. Logging by VicForests kills threatened and endangered species like the Greater Glider, the Koala, the Sooty Owl and many more. All this while destroying native forests that are crucial carbon sinks in a climate emergency.

Climate and forest protesters locked on to concrete-filled barrels

Rather than addressing the problem, the Andrews government has increased penalties for the forest defenders who carrying out surveys of animals and coupe walk-ins to stop logging. Forest defenders such as the Victorian Forest Alliance have been working tirelessly for years on the front lines and in courts to save our forests.

Remnants of forest in areas that were badly burned in 2019 and 2020 are still being logged, leaving animals with no refuge. Greater gliders have gone from being common to endangered in only a few years, and are likely to become extinct if native logging continues. The trees they live in are the very same trees that the loggers want. During logging operations, 60% of what is cut down is left on the forest floor as waste, and 85% of what is taken out ends up as disposable products like paper and cardboard.

The wholly state-owned enterprise VicForests has been the subject of many allegations of illegal logging, several of which were upheld by the Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR). This is a shocking situation, and the State Government must hold VicForests to account. It’s time for Premier Dan Andrews and Environment Minister Lily d’Ambrosio to rein in VicForests’ cowboy behaviour, instead of shifting the legislative goalposts to legalise the unlawful logging.

Protesters dressed as koalas and the Conservation Regulator

David Lindenmayer, a world-leading expert in forest ecology and resource management, conservation science, and biodiversity conservation, says that keeping native forests standing is as important to the survival of the planet as keeping coal and gas in the ground.

Ending logging of native forests also makes economic sense. The Greens asked government officials to calculate the cost of shutting down the native forest timber industry immediately rather than in 2030 as planned. The budget office estimated that ending logging in Victoria now would save taxpayers as much as $192 million.

We say to the Victorian Government - stop subsidising this destructive, unsustainable and loss-making industry, and put an end to logging in native forests immediately. Fund a just transition for forest workers and save our koalas and greater gliders!

Most of the photos in this news item are by Matt Hrkac

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