Sunday, July 25, 2010

forest finds more friends

Yesterday I joined with many other speakers to talk about logging of forests in Yarra Ranges. I was invited to talk about the stance of the Yarra Ranges Council.

"Yarra Ranges is highly valued for its natural environment, it is of key importance to our community and comes up time and time again as one of the key reasons young and old alike love living in Yarra Ranges. Our natural environment attracts millions of visitors every year."

Around 50 community members came out to hear speakers talk from their various perspectives. We heard about the potential for the native timber industry to fully transition to plantation, the impact logging has on biodiversity, the importance of a rigorous assessment process for certification, the perspective of VicForests, the political perspective at a local and state level. The question and answer session was robust and I'm sure if it was possible people would have stayed longer to really understand the complexity of the issues.

I gave the audience a history of Yarra Ranges council motions in relation to logging in our forests.

27th November, 2007
I moved the following motion:

That Council supports a public statement opposing logging of water catchments in Yarra Ranges, and further that Council also makes representation to the Premier, the Minister for Environment and Minister for Water, and I propose that the statement is:
The Shire of Yarra Ranges does not support logging in water catchments.
Council recognises that:
1. Logging has a dramatic and detrimental effect on water yield in catchments.
2. Young re-growth trees need more water to grow thus releasing less water into catchments.
3. Logging reduces stream flow and yields to water catchments.

4. It takes 150 years for water yields to return to their pre logged status.
5. It is poor water policy to continue to log our water catchments.
6. Logging of water catchments adversely affects water quality through increasing sediment as does road construction through logging coupes.
We urge the government to consider a policy of no logging in water catchments.

The motion was supported unanimously by the Yarra Ranges councillors.

"If our government stopped logging all our catchments tomorrow we would gain 18 gigalitres of water a year, that's 18 billion litres of water returned to Melburnians every year."

17th October, 2008
At the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria) State Conference the Shire of Yarra Ranges put up a motion to oppose logging in Melbourne's Water Catchments. The motion was supported 53% for and 47% against.

The MAV is the peak representative and advocacy body for Victoria's 79 councils. The wording of the Yarra Ranges motion to put to The MAV was:
That the following statement, adopted at the Council meeting held on 27 November, 2007, namely:
"The Shire of Yarra Ranges does not support logging in water catchments.
Council recognises that:...(points 1 to 6 - see motion above)......

be presented to the next meeting of the MAV State Council requesting its support in making representations to the State Government in opposition to logging in Melbourne's water catchments.

23rd November, 2008

The Our Forests Our Water Our Climate Our Future rally was held in Warburton in response to the proposed logging of Cement Creek. The day before the rally I heard through Tammy Lobato's office that there was to be no logging of Cement Creek in 2008. This was a hollow victory, there has been no commitment to truly protect Cement Creek, now or into the future.

Cement Creek is a forest with considerable tracts of high conservation old growth forest, precious for its lead beaters possum habitat, it includes a site of aboriginal significance and not to mention its value as a carbon store.

Steve Meacher – President of HEWI, not only spoke, but MC'd the event too.

24th March, 2010
I heard through my role as chairperson of the Yarra Ranges Environment Advisory Committee that more logging coupes were being proposed for the central highlands.

Once alerted to the amendments I moved the following motion:
That council forwards a submission to Vic Forests with regard to the proposed Harvesting Plan Amendments in the Timber Release Plan 2010 before the 8th April, 2010, expressing its concern about the proposed 148 additional coupes and road lines within the central highlands region.

And that copies of the submission be forwarded to The Hon. Gavin Jennings MP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Greg Wilson - Secretary DSE, Mr Kevin Love - DSE Deputy Secretary, Public Land Stewardship and Biodiversity, Mr Michael Crutchfield MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Water & Environment Ms Tammy Lobato MP, Member for Gembrook and Mr Ben Hardman MP, Member for Seymour.

The motion was won.

Other speakers on the day included (from left to right) Nathan Trussel – VicForests, Chris Taylor – member Forest Stewardship Council, Sarah Rees – My Environment, myself – Yarra Ranges councillor, Bernie Mace – Save Mt St Leonards group, Christian Nielsen – Warburton local, Lindsay Hesketh – ACF, Adam Menary – My Environment. Other speakers not pictured include Steve Meacher – President of HEWI and Greens Candidate for McEwen, Keith Sarah – Warburton Environment and Tammy Lobato MP for Gembrook.

8th June, 2010
In response to logging on the Bicentennial Trail and Mt St Leonard in Toolangi, Cr McRae moved the following motion:

That Council write to Mr Ben Hardman MP, the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Joe Helper, the Minister for Environment, Mr Gavin Jennings and the Premier, Mr Brumby, calling for an immediate halt to current logging and any future logging proposed on the Bicentennial Trail and Mt St Leonards due to significant adverse
impacts on the local economy, tourism features and the environment.

In speaking to the motion I talked about the importance of Mt St Leonards and the Bicentennial Trail to tourism and biodiversity in the shire. The Bicentennial Trail is a significant tourism icon not only to Yarra Ranges, but to Victoria and Australia. Whilst Mt St Leonard is an iconic mountain in the shire providing a backdrop to the Yarra Valley and plays a key role, not only to tourism but biodiversity as well.

The motion was supported unanimously.

June, 2010

More recently we have heard that two coupes in Toolangi have been taken off the timber release plan for the next year – once again a hollow victory, it is not time to celebrate it is time to lobby hard to get these precious places protected in perpetuity.

Yarra Ranges contains significant areas of remnant native vegetation, much of which is botanically and zoologically significant, providing important habitat for wildlife.

The Shire, and in particular the 'Yarra Valley', is gaining local and international recognition as a fine food and wine producing area. Each year, over 2.2 million tourists visit the area. Tourism, a key growth area for Yarra Ranges generates $381 million per annum or 4.22% of our $9.019 billion economy.

As a council we don't think the government should be allowing the ongoing destruction of our native forests in the Toolangi region or in Melbourne's water catchments. We hold grave concerns on the impact of our tourism industry and Melbourne's ongoing water supply.

The Yarra Ranges Council sees our strength is preserving our environment, to encourage even greater visitation rates, it is our natural beauty that attracts people to the region.

The Shire contains some of the most environmentally important areas in Victoria, which are a significant factor in attracting residents and tourists.

We do not want to see our greatest assets squandered for woodchips. It is time to get out of our water catchments and get out of our native forests.

Our community's future lies in tourism not wasted in woodchips.

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At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do the Bicentennial Trail organisation feel about you using their trail for your political propaganda?
Logging does not threaten or close the trail - logging is part of the forest in which the trail travels, is part of the rich history of the forest.
Why dont you propose a banning of horseriders in the forest - they are a key vector in spreading pasture weed into our magnificant pristine (regrowth) forests.
Again your stupidity is astounding.

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow 'Anonymous' ... if that really is your name ...(that's humour right there folks)... You are brilliant. Have you ever thought about becoming an aid worker ? You could tour hospitals in war torn countries and tell the children who have lost limbs to land mines that their loss isn't simply an amputation, but 'part of their own rich history'.
Anyway let me introduce you to a web site you may find useful ... ... the word 'pristine' doesn't actually have anything to do with 'reduced bio-diversity' so I'm not sure why you are bandying it about in regards to regrowth forest.
Have the guts to put a name to your silly insults... and just for the record stooge ... logging isn't 'part of the forest' ... it's just a lack of a forest.
Spencer in Ferntree Gully. Oh & feel free to come back to me when you've got the guts to name yourself & the organisation you work for.


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