The Liberals forest policy has made some encouraging steps, but falls way short of the mark according to environment groups.
Its plan to legally entrench the Regional Forest Agreements, and guarantee a permanent land base in State Forests for logging, will be a disaster for remaining native forests.
The Wilderness Society’s Victorian Campaigns Manager Gavan McFadzean said; “We are encouraged by the recogintion of the need to protect our old growth forests. By focusing their forest protection policy on doubling the area of old growth forest to be reserved, and identifying new areas to become old growth forest, the Liberals have correctly honed in on the most urgent conservation task and the highest priority forest issue for environment groups.”
“Doubling the area of old growth forest in secure reserves, would be an significant conservation achievement. However, at this stage there is no detail on how these areas will be identified, whether there will be a moratorium on old growth logging while any protection process is undertaken and no timetable for their protection.”
“The announcement that the Liberals will manage forests to increase the area of old growth in the future, demonstrates that the Liberals have understood that forest restoration is critical to the long term survival of many of our rare and threatened flora and fauna, which cling to remaining areas of old growth forest for their survival.”
“Sadly, the Liberals old growth plan appears similar to Labor’s announcement on Goolengook – namely swapping the protection of old growth for areas currently protected for their importance for the survival of rare, threatened and endangered flora and fauna.”
“The Victorian public expects both Labor and Liberal to commit to immediate protection for our remaining old growth forests. However, this protection cannot be based on swapping old growth protection for the destruction of other high conservation value areas, such as the habitat for endangered species such as the Spot Tailed Quoll.”
“We are also disappointed that the Liberals have failed to rule out burning forests for electricity and charcoal, as Labor announced earlier this week, and that their policy fails to address logging in water catchments;” said Environment Victoria Executive Director Marcus Godinho.
“Most Victorians are appalled at the record woodchipping levels under Bracks, so the tentative pledge to move the woodchipping industry’s dependence on native forests to plantations is encouraging. However there is no excuse to woodchip Victoria’s native forests at all, when we have sufficient plantations to supply the woodchipping industry.”
“We are encouraging both Labor and Liberal to make the urgently needed improvements to their forest policies in the lead up to the election;” said Don Henry, Executive Director, ACF.