The fate of some of Australia's most loved forests and iconic wildlife will be decided in 2018. Will native forest logging continue to be exempt from federal threatened species laws under the 'One Stop Chop' RFA regime? Or, for the first time in 20 years, will logging have to comply with Australia's environment laws like every other industry?
The Federal court cleared the way on Friday for the nationally significant Possums Case to continue.
Allegations that VicForests failed to identify and protect Leadbeater's Possums, Greater Gliders and their habitat in accordance with the Central Highlands RFA will now be tested in court (details and links to court documents).
Federal and state governments have legal and political concerns about extending Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) based on badly outdated science, now over 20 years old, according to reports in the Guardian’s excellent series on neglected environmental issues: ‘Our Wide Brown Land’.
The Guardian’s reports have exposed divisions between Labor and the Coalition with Labor’s Tony Burke and Joel Fitzgibbon committing to ‘proper, independent and full scientific assessments’ of RFA outcomes while Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Senator Anne Ruston is refusing to undertake or fund new assessments, claiming that existing information is more than adequate.
World Forests Day - 21 March 2018. This week Stand up for the Forests in Perth and other places around the country. Make your voice heard in a different way by contributing your craft skills. And book now for the Forests Forever Easter Ecology Camp up at Goongerah in East Gippsland. Featured image - Lewin Forest (WAFA)
On Friday afternoon, 2 March, Justice Mortimer handed down her decision in the Possums case. The decision is lengthy and complex but conservationists said that although the argument put by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum was rejected, as was that of VicForests, the decision gave them grounds for hope. Read the judgment here and below are the next dates and initial reactions from outside the court on Friday.
Around the country logging blockades and protests are happening and planned; a huge crowd turned out in Hobart to protect takayna/Tarkine in the run up to the Tasmanian election. Meanwhile the Victorian government sits on reported logging breaches by VicForests and the Great Forest National Park enters the Batman by-election
The "third" so-called five-year performance review of Victoria's RFAs is a prelude to making them permanent. Make a submission before COB on Monday 29 January whether you're in Victoria or elsewhere.
The message is simple - no more RFAs.
On 14 November, community group Friends of Leadbeater's Possum, represented by Environmental Justice Australia, launched a landmark challenge to the 'logging exemption' from federal environment laws. The 'logging exemption' allows native forest logging 'in accordance with' a Regional Forest Agreement to proceed without federal assessment or approval even where it impacts on threatened species like the Greater Glider and Leadbeater's Possum. The challenge, nicknamed the 'Possums case', could have national implications.