Unlike in Tasmania and NSW, here in Victoria the Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) are not simply being rolled over, thankfully.
The government and DELWP have embarked on a RFA Modernization Program that includes consultation with partners and stakeholder groups. The SOSF believes that the North East Regional Forest Agreement has systematically failed the effective management and protection of natural values in the Strathbogie Forest and we have made that case to government. Perhaps the clearest example of this failure is the case of the Greater Glider possum (Petauroides volans). This species is listed as threatened with extinction under both Australian and Victorian government legislation, yet it has no formal protection under the North East RFA, nor the Central Highlands RFA. This has occurred because the RFA process has no mechanism to update the list of threatened species the agreement is meant to protect. The species protected by RFAs now, in 2019 are exactly the same as the species that were listed as threatened when the RFAs were created 20 years ago. This is but one example of how the current RFAs have failed.
For a broader understanding of why many Victorian communities oppose renewal of the RFAs, here are examples of the arguments:
A few weeks ago DELWP staff from the Hume Region met with SOSF representatives to hear our concerns about the North East RFA, how it impacts on the Strathbogie Forest. We were grateful for the opportunity to be consulted on specific forest issues and describe the future we see for the Strathbogie Forest.
As part of the consultation we presented a slide show –
The slide show was accompanied by a spoken presentation and concluded with more detailed discussion of the issues raised. Much of the information in the slide show is drawn from the report Protecting the Strathbogie Forest.
On 2019 International Day of Forests, Save our Strathbogie Forest group calls on the Victorian Government to show leadership on protecting our native forests for their increasingly urgent roles in mitigating the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis.
The Andrews Government has the worst record of any Government in more than sixty years in terms of creating new parks and reserves. There is a powerful case for protecting the Strathbogie Forest now to help deliver on the Government’s commitments in its 2037 Biodiversity Plan and to help mitigate the urgent climate crisis by saving our forests as carbon stores, now.
- March 21st is United Nations’ International Day of Forests
- The Andrews Government is still hellbent on logging native forests, and has announced four logging coupes to be logged in the Strathbogie Forest, despite the strong scientific evidence of their important role in carbon sequestration, climate mitigation, increased water yields and biodiversity protection.
- A recent ABARE report confirms that most product coming from native forests is pulp, not sawlogs, contradicting the government’s claims that the native forest industry is aimed at high-quality products
Strathbogie Forest case study
- Public land extent was 31,000 ha in 1970 and is 24,000 ha today – a loss of 20% due to clearing for softwood plantations in the 1970s and 80s
- In 1970, the carbon store was estimated at 4.4 million tonnes of Co2 equivalents.
- The current carbon stock is estimated to be 3.3 million tonnes, and will grow over time if the forests are not logged anymore.
- Logging of the forests will increase carbon emissions as a result of the harvesting process and reduce the overall carbon stocks.
- The forests have exceptional conservation values as described in our report ‘Protecting the Strathbogie Forest‘.
- Recent surveys by the Conservation Department confirm that these forests contain a large, regionally significant population of the nationally endangered Greater Glider, listed for protection under Victoria’s FFG Act and the Commonwealth’s EPBC Act.
- Planned logging of a further four coupes this year will result in the death of as many as 600 additional individuals of this endangered species. It also results in loss of habitat and connectivity.
- Protection of these forests from logging would lead to increased carbon sequestration, climate-change mitigation, increased water yields and better protected populations of threatened species and biodiversity.
- Many options have been proposed to the Victorian Government over the past three years to achieve protection of these forests, but all have been ignored.
- These forests support the equivalent of just one FTE logging contractor.
24,000 ha Strathbogie Forest superimposed on Melbourne.
City of Melbourne parallel.
- City of Melbourne is 3600 ha in size and emits 4.7 million tonnes of Co2 equivalents per year.
- Imagine the logging coupes already logged or planned, superimposed on that space.
- Imagine all of that lost opportunity to help capture the 4.7 Mt CO2 being emitted in Melbourne.