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