Author Archives: Barb Moss

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

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).


Trawool Pumped Hydro Electric Storage Update.

19 September. Bob Brown attended a “Climate Change Innovation Market Place Event” in Shepparton. The State Government through DELWP was introducing a new source of funding called the Climate Change Innovation Grants, offering $50 to $300K for co-operative projects that reduced greenhouse emissions and adapted to climate change.

September. Nathan Epp of Goulburn Valley Water made a presentation about the Trawool and Strathbogie schemes to the Intelligent Water Network. IWN is a consortium of VicWater, 18 Victorian water authorities and DELWP to investigate new technologies and innovations to meet common challenges. As a result Michael Wheelahan of DELWP and Andrea Pogue of Goulburn Murray Water were appointed to pursue the projects on behalf of IWN.

26 October. John and Jeff  attended an invitation only Roundtable at Shepparton organised by Peter Hansford of DELWP. They made a 5-minute description of the Trawool project to 250 business people, engineers, etc. expressing our need for a partner. Several organisations have since expressed interest, mainly offering their services.

Peter, John, Bob and Jeff and Euroa reps. have had meetings with Michael and Andrea in which it was decided to apply for funding from the Climate Change Fund. Bob, Jeff, Shirley and Andrea attended a meeting at Wangaratta with the Hume Region team Eloise Seymour and Chelsea Cherry, to discuss the criteria for the application. Work is continuing on the application, which is due on 30 November.

Jeff Wilmot – Secretary Mitchell Community Energy

Campaigns: Live Animal Exports from Brazil

Live animals exports has been a disturbing topic for many years. The stress on land-based  animals shipped across oceans, to a death too often by cruel means and without any compassion for a stressed gets people very emotional. But it continues, and just doesn’t need to exist as a trade.

Brazil has recently announced plans to increase live cattle exports five-fold, and is meeting with opposition from Animals International to highlight the cruelty of animal exports, from Brazil and Australia alike. Continue reading

Mitchell Community Energy

On Thursday 12th October, Mitchell Community Energy Inc. was inaugurated.  This is a big step forward.

The Sustainable Seymour workshops expressed a keen interest in developing community energy projects in Seymour.  We now have at least one very good solar energy project at the SSAC ready to go, a larger pumped-hydro-electricity project at Trawool that we are developing through a series of feasibility studies, and many other ideas.  There is a growing body of information and support for communities seeking to develop community energy projects.

So a small group from the SS Network decided to set up the organisational structures to implement local projects.  Of the many alternatives, the group proposes to:

  1. Set up an incorporated, not-for-profit group – Mitchell Community Energy Inc. – as the vehicle for developing projects.
  2. Set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (a Community Company) to invest in the SSAC project at this stage. Investments will be available to members of MCE.  This will possibly be the model for other projects developed by Mitchell Community Energy Inc.

On 12th October, a meeting at Chittick Place in Seymour was attended by 17 people.  The meeting was well supported by the Council:  Cr Rob Eldridge chaired the meeting and the Mayor Cr Rhonda Sanderson. Cr David Atkinson and Cr Fiona Stevens and program leader Elyse Kelly also attended.  The meeting voted to set up Mitchell Community Energy Inc, and also voted on the Purpose and Rules for the association.  The Purpose of the association is:

To reduce the generation of greenhouse gases in the Mitchell Shire community and develop a greater awareness of climate change issues through a community-based organization that will:

  1. Secure funding from within the communityand elsewhere to undertake renewable energy and energy conservation projects.
  2. Build community participation, empowerment and pride by working together on those projects.
  3. Strengthen the local economy by using local enterprises and labourand capital.
  4. Keep the funds generated by savings in power costs within the community.
  5. Ensure that all members of the community have opportunities to benefit from the projects.

Finally, the meeting nominated Peter Lockyer as President, Jeff Wilmot as Secretary and John Thompson as Treasurer, plus Irene Telford,  Bob Brown and Carol Tullett as committee members.

The new group welcomes memberships and participation.

How to join Mitchell Community Energy Inc.:  Details to follow shortly