Monthly Archives: May 2018

Regional Forest Agreements must not be Renewed

Native forest logging has a direct and long-lasting impact on forests and their dependent wildlife. It is the only activity and only ecosystem type given an entirely separate purpose-built legal and management regime in Australia. Native forestry operations are treated differently from other actions that may impact on matters of national environmental significance otherwise protected by Australia’s principal piece of environment legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Unlike other actions, forestry activities covered by a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) are not required to obtain approval under the EPBC Act. (Environment Defenders Office)

Regional Forest Agreements or RFAs, were introduced by the Howard Government and in Victoria, the Kennett Government some 20 years ago as an instrument to give loggers access to native forests for logging. Their intention was to govern the regulation of native forest conservation and wood production (objectives of the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement). In other words, an intention of a balanced management, for 20 years.  However the management has been anything but balanced:  the RFAs have escaped any need to conform to national environment laws, and the forests have been decimated and left many small forest communities angry. In their view, the forest has many more virtues than just timber, and the timber harvesting has been brutal. “It is simply not sustainable” says Ken Deacon, a Rubicon Valley resident with a horse trail riding business that has suffered from the intrusion of Vic Forests and the logging onslaught. “Forests deserve better management”.

This logging has been by “clear felling” whereby within a forest “coup”, a logging company totally clears the area of every tree save for “islands” for seed production. These islands provide little refuge for native fauna. Native fauna by and large get killed in the logging process. “The RFAs have created an industrial disaster zone” in the words of Ken Deacon.

The photos are of Andersons Mill Log dump in Marysville and the Royston Range in the Rubicon State Forest.

The forest is decimated, logs removed, and the remaining leaf and branch material is then burnt.  Most of the logs meet agreements for woodchips, and you see these trucks going through Tallarook every day. Some of the larger logs make their way to saw mills and kiln driers and end up available as quality timber. Continue reading

Snap Back – wasteful plastic packaging

The Boomerang Alliance is hosting another campaign which BEAM supports

Australians use up to half a million tonnes of plastic per person per year.  Here is one way you can assist to reduce plastic use…….

Snap Back at Plastic Packaging – and WIN a FREE JOCO Cup worth $29.95

Does the weekly grocery shop leave your blood boiling?

Pre-diced onions in sealed plastic bags; scissors encased in hard plastic casing that then require scissors to open; individually wrapped prunes – you name it, Australian retailers have it. Now it’s time to Snap Back.

Boomerang Alliance is offering the opportunity to name and shame the most appalling examples of unnecessary plastic packaging AND the chance to win a JOCO cup worth $29.95.

How to enter Snap Back– it’s too easy

1. Take a photo [within Australia only]

2. Go to our Snap Back page on Facebook

3. Upload your photo [you can submit more than one]

4. Name and shame the offending product/retailer

5. Be in with a chance to win a JOCO cup worth $29.95

6. Get your friends & family to vote [limit one vote per FB user]


According to a National Recycling Survey 2014–15 by the Australian Packaging Covenant [APCO] Australia consumes 944,300 tonnes of plastic. That’s nearly a half tonne of plastic consumed by every single Australian – every year.



Boomerang Alliance is hosting the Future of Plastic Packaging Forum on July 12 where the results and evidence from Snap Back will be presented to representatives from Australia’s biggest retailers.


So next time you see sliced capsicums beneath a tight layer of cling wrap, don’t get mad – get snapping! #snapback

Another Death Ship?

Agriculture Minister Littleproud’s decision to continue the live sheep export trade has little to be proud of. Against the advice of the RSPCA and the CSIRO who have expressed grave concern at live sheep exports over the northern summer, it is business as usual. One Government inspector onto the same sheep that saw over a thousand sheep suffer to their deaths last year is all that has changed. The minister said on the radio last week that 450 sheep dying on a ship of 60,000 is fair enough collateral damage. One might question the health or market condition of the sheep that survived, surely.

Not so. This trade is abhorrent, to farmers who care for their livestock, and to the rest of us who care about animal cruelty. Minister Littleproud has shown no fortitude on the issue to date at all. No one should profit from animal suffering. This death trade must stop, but clearly we wait until the next disaster before we objectively decide on the future of the live sheep trade.


Peter Lockyer,                                                                                                                                                  President BEAM Mitchell Environment Group

See also this article in The Conversation by Peter Singer that adds to the criticisms of the Federal Governments decision on this practice

RetroSuburbia at the Seymour Library

There was a real buzz at the Seymour Library last Tuesday night, where 110 people packed the usually quiet space, to hear David Holmgren’s presentation “Food, Resilience and Retrofitting our Suburbs”.

The night began with banter between locals Peter Lockyer and Richard Telford focused on retrofitting projects of the built environment, including Abdallah House and three other properties, all within a kilometre of the library. The common thread was in considering the solar aspect, and modifying the existing resources and infrastructure of the sites to increase self-reliance.

David introduced ‘Aussie Street’, a compelling story from the ‘new suburbs’ of the 1950s and their evolution through the decades. People in the audience could relate to the made-up characters that live in the street, and the drama of their lives. Each of the four properties illustrated various realistic approaches to suburban living, and adaption to changing times.

As affluence and energy use dramatically increases from the 50s to the 90’s, so does the time away from home as the number of people living in the street decreases. When permaculture retrofitting is adopted at one household, time at home begins to increase and the home economy rebuilds. This spreads to impact neighbouring properties, allowing the small community to thrive during the 2020s great depression. The result being a future reminiscent of the 1950s, drawing upon the successes of the past with appropriate technologies and strategies from modern times. The story gives a sense of hope during the current uncertainty.

Question time raised lots of concerns about regulatory requirements, and how David’s vision of a suburban transformation could be realised. David acknowledged the importance of the rules and regulations required by council to curb unethical behaviour, particularly by corporations. But he also challenged the audience, along with the three councillors in attendance, to make incremental changes where they live – even if that means bending a few rules. Building relationships and trust with neighbours give residents the social license to enhance the properties where they live, and build community at the same time.

Details of how this can be implemented is outlined in David’s new book RetroSuburbia: the downshifters guide to a resilient future.

David concluded by pointed out that Seymour, like many smaller rural townships, is well placed to make to become more self-reliant. Relatively small houses on large suburban blocks are ripe for retrofitting, which is much more challenging (but not impossible) on smaller blocks. The existing, often under-utilised, infrastructure are also great assets that can be transformed into hubs of activity if we spend more time where we live, rather than commuting long distances.

“A techno-optimistic future is unrealistic”, says David, “we face economic uncertainty that will change the way we live. We can create better, more rewarding lives for ourselves now, without hardship being forced upon us. Change now, and avoid the rush.”

Peter and Richard will be reflecting on the event on Earthchat, Seymour FM 103.9, on Friday the 18th of May from 10am. An extensive tour Abdallah House, one of the feature case studies in the book, is on the 20th of May from 9am-12. For bookings, visit the Holmgren website.

Visit for more about how we can transform our suburbs.


Seymour – future model for ecological renewal

Globally recognised ecological thinker, David Holmgren, has identified the Seymour township as a potential key model for regional community-based ecological renewal.

Holmgren, permaculture co-originator, believes Seymour has the ideal community and infrastructure mix to become a leading adapter of retrofitting the built environment, private open space, household form and lifestyle, to become more sustainable.

‘Seymour has the classic suburban pattern of small houses on larger blocks, many of them solar oriented, that has mostly been lost to infill and redevelopment in Melbourne’ says Holmgren.

‘This makes it ideal for owner and occupier initiated retrofits. Local case study Abdallah House, active community groups, local government centre on the train line, affordability and the river all contribute to Seymour’s potential. At the southern end of the Mitchell Shire, new suburban housing patterns present different opportunities and retrofit challenges more typical of outer suburban Melbourne.’

Photo: Mayor Rhonda Sanderson, Christine Cahusac, David Holmgren, Richard Telford, Peter Lockyer and Cynthia Lim. Photo: Oliver Holmgren.

Holmgren recently toured several Seymour initiatives, including Wine by Sam, to see the transformative retrofitting of the old dye works into a productive winery as well as the local-based company, Permaculture Principles that distributes Holmgren’s books worldwide. To keep up with demand, business co-owner Richard Telford recently employed Seymour resident Christine Cahusac, as operations manager.

‘The demand for David’s latest book, RetroSuburbia, has taken us by surprise,’ says Telford. ‘While the book is targeted at suburbanites in the south-east of Australia, there’s increasing interest overseas, which is keeping us busy.

’During his visit, Holmgren also met with Mitchell Shire Mayor, Rhonda Sanderson, to share ideas and discuss shire-wide possibilities. ‘‘One of the priorities of our council plan is caring for the environment, which includes practicing and advocating for a more sustainable way of living,’’ Cr Sanderson said.

Peter Lockyer and David Clarey interview David Holmgren and Richard Telford on EarthChat

BEAM president, and permaculture pioneer, Peter Lockyer was there with fellow Seymour FM radio host, Cynthia Lim to meet with David. Peter and David Clarey discussed RetroSuburbia and upcoming local events with David and Richard on EarthChat, which airs on Fridays at 11am on 103.9, followed by Cynthia’s food eXchange show.

Holmgren will return for a Mitchell Shire event at Seymour Library on Tuesday May 15 at 7pm, to present his highly engaging multi-media presentation, ‘Aussie Street’.

‘Aussie Street’ brings Holmgren’s RetroSuburbia ideas to life using 100+ photos and watercolour illustrations along with practical concepts from his exciting new book.

Come along to be part of Holmgren’s insightful, thought-provoking vision for a resilient and sustainable future, right here in Seymour. Light refreshments provided.

For event details, click on the image of the flyer here. Bookings for David’s talk are essential and can be made by calling 5783 3555, emailing or by registering your interest on the shires facebook event page.

Running as a follow-up to this event is an extended tour of the Telford / Yoshimoto featured home, Abdallah House in Seymour on the 20th of May from 9-12. Bookings required, cost is $25 (under 12 free).