Hancock Watch Updates August 2008


Victorian Government and Hancock sign 'secret' Cores and Links Agreement. Community excluded from all discussions about the issue, even though it was the community who lobbied for the cores and links in the first place!!! Conservation Minister Gavin Jennings and Hancock CEO Linda Sewell have effectively 'sold out' some of the best forests of the Strzeleckis including sites of national conservation significance such as College Creek, which will now be gutted by Hancock. Meanwhile Hancock remain certified by Forest Stewardship Council which remains totally mute and ineffectual while sites of national conservation significance get destroyed.

For more details about this dodgy deal see June 2008 updates here.

also Friends of the Earth comments on the deal in June 2008

Govt agrees to Strzelecki land swap ABC Gippsland August 15 2008

New: Cores and Links Background Information here

Strzelecki Ranges: Agnes Catchment Wet Forest buffers soon to be logged by Hancock under the Heads of Agreement.

Strzelecki Ranges: Morwell River Catchment. Craig Crt.removal of stand of mixed forest prime Koala feed trees - Grey Gum Manna Gum and Messmate in the Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Trees are resprouting so easily identified. On the same site the company was advised in 2007 on the best way to remove Arum Lilly (a naxious weed) before it spread out of control. The Lilly was confined to 2 spots . One spot on the roadside has now been spread across the coupe by Hancock's activities. The company ignored advice given by its own consultant and the Trust for Nature Manager for West Gippsland and spread this pernicious invader of Cool Temperate Rainforest across the coupe and into the head of the rainforest gully.

Foster Mirror 20 August 2008

Strzelecki forest Cores and Links agreement signed

THE Strzelecki ‘Cores and Links’ agreement between the Victorian State Government and HVP Plantations was signed on Monday August 11.

HVP Regional Manager Owen Trumper announced the signing during a public briefing session of South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday, and Minister Jennings released a statement dated August 16 confirming the signing. The agreement, which was foreshadowed in a release of an in-principle statement by State Environment Minister Gavin Jennings on May 30 [see The Mirror June 4 page 1 New Agreement on Strzelecki Forests].

It is different to the previous ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ arrangement between community representatives, Trust for Nature, Australian Paper, the State Government and HVP as compromise could not be obtained with HVP was not prepared to cede areas of plantation timber needed to meet timber supply “contractual commitments”.

The Cores and Links refer to areas of remnant native forest, linked by forested corridors, running in a northeast direction from approximately the Turtons Creek/Gunyah area through to the Hiawatha/Madalya area in the southern Strzelecki Ranges.

As yet, a detailed map of the Cores and Links to be protected has not been made publicly available, though Mr Trumper anticipated public documentation would be accessible in “about 10 days time”, making it late August before individuals and conservation groups can obtain specific details.

Both the Minister’s latest announcement and Mr Trumper’s comments at the briefing confirm:

· 6,500 hectares of cores and links are will be immediately handed over to public ownership.

· A further 1,500 hectares of cores and links will be handed over to public ownership progressively during the next 20 years after one-off timber harvest followed by regeneration with mixed indigenous species mimicking the diversity of the local native forest.

· 15,000 hectares of surrounding/adjoining forest will not be logged, providing a buffer [minimum of 60 metres] to the cores and links area.

· The land involved is a mix of lease, licence and private land owned by HVP Plantations, [over the years, some of these areas were originally known under ownership names such as Australian Paper Plantations, Victorian Plantations Corporation and Grand Ridge Plantations].

· In return for handing over the land to public ownership, HVP will receive $5.5 million in cash and in-kind support.In agreeing not to harvest the native forest, HVP have retained the rights to any future carbon and biodiversity credits derived through the ongoing protection of the areas.

· HVP states categorically that since 1998, under its own policy, it does not harvest native forest, including forest regrowth following fires. [In the case of the Strzeleckis, regrowth has occurred after fires in 1939, 1942 and 1944].

· Only plantation timber will be logged.

The HVP definition of plantation timber, which is taken from the Code of Forest Practice, is “Any stand of trees, native or exotic, planted or sown primarily for timber production.” In response to questions about who will actually manage the public land and how does Trust for Nature involvement fit in, Minister Jennings answered, “”The timing and specifics of handback will relate to the once-off harvesting. “Trust for Nature will be instrumental in the future stewardship of the land covered by this agreement, [which is an agreement] between HVP and the State.”

Echoing dismay expressed over the in-principle agreement by Friends of the Earth and Friends of Gippsland Bush Inc., Friends of Bass Valley Bush Inc. Landcare Group have claimed the agreement “ensures the destruction of native forest in Gippsland’s Strzelecki Ranges.”

On behalf of the group, Phil Westwood mourned, “Unfortunately the deal means that native forest in areas such as College Creek will be trashed and turned into wood chips to feed the Maryvale Pulp Mill.”

On the other hand, Trust for Nature’s Executive Director Mike Gooey has approved the agreement, believing that it protects a vital part of the Strzelecki native forests, exceeds the government’s 2006 election promise and “heralds a new mature working relationship between government, business and not-for-profit organisations.”

PR OVERSHADOWED The cores and links announcement somewhat overshadowed the main purpose of the briefing session, which was to improve communications between the Shire and HVP by both familiarity and public relations explanations. While noting that HVP has regular contact with other Gippsland municipalities, Mr Trumper regretted that this has not been the case with South Gippsland.

Supported by HVP External Relations Manager Rob Hescock and HVP Planning Manager Phil Whiteman, he offered familiarisation tours, spoke about fire fighting support, conservation values, company position in the industry, employment figures, community interaction, cooperation with Shire staff and product transport issues.

“Apart from the State Government, I believe we are the largest landholder in the Shire and we pay $33,000 in rates,” he commented.

“HVP has 1,800 hectares under eucalyptus plantation, 2,700 hectares of pine plantation and 3,600 hectares of custodial land [including native forests, roads etc] on the southern side of the Strzeleckis, which is catchment flowing into Corner Inlet.”

The HVP presentation also included a number of historical ‘before and after’ plantation and harvesting photographs of the Strzeleckis and mentioned that a fauna study had recently been completed for the area in the vicinity of the Turtons helipad. Mr Trumper said that the information would be shared with the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and landcare groups.

He also indicated that HVP was ready to hear about issues where there was room to improve performance. Local community members who want to raise issues about weeds in or adjacent to the HVP plantations have been urged to telephone 5122 0600 and ask for the ‘Establishment group’.

For other inquiries, contact HVP External Relations Manager Rob Hescock at the Churchill office on 5122 0625. Besides thanking the HVP representatives for their visit, Mayor Heather Bligh offered that given the winter season and the proximity of the municipal elections, it would be best if HVP approached the newly elected Council about running a familiarisation tour.

ALP Propaganda which fails to mention that College Creek a site of national conservation significance will be gutted in the deal.

14 Aug 2008 Important forest agreement for Gippsland signed

The Brumby Government has signed a landmark agreement with HVP Plantations (HVP), permanently protecting more than 20,000 hectares of native forest in Gippsland’s Strzelecki Ranges. Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings and HVP’s CEO Linda Sewell announced that under the agreement, native forests across HVP’s entire estate in Gippsland’s Strzelecki Ranges would be protected.

Both parties today finalised the legal agreement, after reaching an in-principle agreement in May. “This historic accord offers full protection to native forests in the Strzelecki Ranges,” Mr Jennings said. “This historic accord offers full protection to native forests in the Strzelecki Ranges.”

The agreement fulfils — and builds on — a 2006 election commitment to return the 8000 hectare Cores and Links’ area to public ownership and, ultimately, protection as part of the reserve system. “It will result in the immediate protection of the native forest in the Cores and Links and the eventual protection of all areas of the Cores and Links,” Mr Jennings said.

“1500 hectares of plantation areas within the Cores and Links will be subject to a one-off harvest, with those areas progressively regenerated and placed into public reserves and protection over the next 20 years.”

Importantly, plantation areas adjacent to cool temperate rainforest in the Gunyah and Jack River sections of the Cores and Links will not be harvested. This will effectively place a protective ‘barrier’ alongside these significant rainforest habitats. “In the native forest surrounding the Cores and Links an additional 15,000 hectares will be protected from timber harvesting in perpetuity,” Mr Jennings said.

The agreement includes $5.5 million in cash and in-kind support for HVP. In agreeing not to harvest the native forest HVP have retained the rights to any future carbon and biodiversity credits derived through the ongoing protection of the areas. “The result reflects this Government’s commitment to sustainable forest management and the long-term protection of key biodiversity areas in our forests,” Mr Jennings said.

Various Dodgy Roading, Weed and Drainage Images Strzelecki Ranges. Certified by Forest Stewardship Council as world's best practice!!!

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges: Flynns Creek roading after logging of 30 year old pine plantation.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges: Flynns Creek catchment. Eroding roads as observed by FSC auditors.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Flynns Creek Catchment. Eroding roads and appalling drainage dog many of Hancock's plantations.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Taylors Road conversion of wet forest into Shining Gum plantations.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Taylors Road failing Shining Gum plantations.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Middle Creek weed infestation.Hancock has taken no responsibility to control weeds over much of their land base including Middle Creek.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges Middle Creek Catchment. FSC certified weed fest.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges/Gippsland Lakes Catchment. Roadside slumping Traralgon Creek Catchment.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges/Gippsland Lakes Catchment. Unsurfaced roads used to extract timber Flynn's Creek.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges, Tonnes of silt destroying planted buffer Traralgon Creek in the Gippsland Lakes catchment.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges, Un-rehabilitated extraction track disolving into silt slurry Traralgon Creek.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges, Sediment infiltrating weed bed prior to entry into Traralgon Creek.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Further slumping of roadside batter Traralgon Creek and sites of most other harvesting operations.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Traralgon Creek Catchment. Slumping - Bird Track - Slope saturated due to inappropriate misdirection of concentrated drainage above this site.

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Predictable outcome of spoon drains on steep slopes - plague of "modern road engineering".

August 2008: Strzelecki Ranges. Traralgon Creek Catchment. Permanent stream crossing Bird Track - Out of sight, Out of mind??? You've got to be kidding!