Hancock Watch

June 2008 Updates

College Creek, site of national conservation significance now under imminent threat. Its destruction signed away by Conservation Mininster Gavin Jennings and Hancock CEO Linda Sewell August 18 2008.

New: Cores and Links Background Information here

June 29, 2008: 100 Strzelecki Residents call to Save College Creek. Hancock, The Victorian Government, Wilderness Society and Victorian National Parks Association have sold this community out by supporting logging in College Creek and other icon areas of the Strzeleckis.

Sell Out 30 May Media Release by Wilderness Society and VNPA

New Strzelecki upoloaded onto Youtube here

June 27, 2008: ABC TV features Cores and Links 'Debacle' Story

The $5.5 million Strzelecki Deal

Two images of the Cores & Links. The second image represents what will happen to rainforest reserve after this deal goes through. Red represents rainforest, white represents hardwood to be logged

June 2 2008: Friends of the Earth smell a rat in rainforest deal

But Wilderness Society claim opposite: "TWS campaigns manager Gavan McFadzean said without it, the Strzelecki Ranges were under threat from logging and woodchipping. "We are pleased to see the Victorian Government moving to protect native forests in the Strzelecki Ranges," he said. (Age 30/6/08)".

Who put Mr McFadzean up to make such ridiculous claims?

June 2 2008: Cores and Links Agreement Reached Latrobe Valley Express

Strzelecki Ranges: Ancient Myrtle Beech deep in side College Creek. This catchment now under threat of clearfelling after Minister Jenning's May 30 announcement. More information on College Creek here.

Flynns Creek 'horror story'. Pines bite the dust on main tourist road.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008: Nine year old Shining Gum plantations in the Albert River catchment. Exceedingly poor growth is occurring in many of Hancock's hardwood plantations. Future buyers beware!

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008: Sunset for forests along Asplenslip Road, Turtons Creek catchment. Asplenslip is the a boundary of the cores and links reserve. More information on this plantation here.

Asplenslip Road (marked in yellow) in proximity to cores and links reserve.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008: Habitat tree on Asplenslip Road. This tree 'blew' over due to much of its base being dug out to widen logging road. Prime koala habitat.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008: Koala claw marks on dead tree, another victim of Hancock's activities in the Strzeleckis on Asplenslip Road.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008: Under the now defunct 2006 Heads of Agreement, logging was only supposed to occur at Asplenslip if 100m rainforest buffers were left on Craig Court. Of course another promise not kept.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008: Recent logging of 29 year old ash and herbicide spraying near tributary of Franklin River, about 2km west of Mt Fatigue. Native forest in background in mainly state forest.

Logging observed on this webpage (yellow mark) in Franklin River catchment in proximity to cores and links reserve. Rainforest also occurs in this area but was not included in Cores and Links Reserve due to limitations of Cores and Links Study in 2001.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008, Franklin River catchment outside Cores and Links Reserve off Franklin Road.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008, Franklin River catchment. Access Roading in logged 28 year old Mountain Ash forests.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008, Jack River catchment. 30 year old hardwood growing in cores and links. Targeted for logging by Hancock. Note poor growth quality. More information here.

Current Hancock logging (yellow mark) inside Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve Jack River.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008. Jack River catchment. New roading and culverting off Kelly Road inside Cores and Links.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008. Regenerating rainforest gully Jack River tributary. Skirted Tree fern.

Strzelecki Ranges June 2008: 30 year old Mountain Ash in Strzelecki Cores and Links Reserve. Soon to be logged by Hancock.

Strzelecki Ranges. Middle Creek catchment showing proximity of plantations to house. Note orange discolouring occuring in pines.

Strzelecki Ranges. Pine Logging in close proximity to Mount Square Top.

Haunted Hills west of Morwell River ~5km south of Yallourn. Poor growing bluegum plantations. Hancock will almost be solely relying on these bluegum plantations to supply Maryvale Mill in the near future. Growth rates are below expectation 5 - 15 MAI/yr. Some plantations in the Hancock estate have failed entirely.

Photo taken from Haunted Hills, Morwell River Catchment, looking east into Hazelwood Coal Mine.

More exceedingly poor growth from Haunted Hills bluegum plantations. Maryvale Pulp Mill is predicting that they will be relying solely on plantations by 2017. Will this really be possible if plantations continue to under achieve? Surely recycled fibre is a better alternative.

View looking south west into Haunted Hills. Approximately 700ha of bluegum plantations have been established in the past decade, not including those plantation on ex pine sites

Latrobe Valley Express 2/6/08

Cores and links agreement reached

Final forest deal by Celine Foenander and Stephanie Charalambous

p1 THE controversial Strzelecki Ranges 'cores and links' deal has been settled with the State Government and Hancock Victoria Plantations (HVP) agreeing to permanently protect 20,000 hectares of sensitive native forest.

The new deal ups the ante on a Heads of Agreement signed between the State Government, HVP, Australian Paper, Trust for Nature and community representatives in October 2006, which outlined a $7 million buy back of 8000 hectares of forest in the cores and links area.

However, that deal was not legally binding and the deadline for the sale passed four weeks ago.

The cores and links cover 8482 hectares of HVP-owned forest in the Strzelecki Ranges; 2411 of which is plantation and 6071 of native bush. The plantation provides a buffer around the rainforest.

It was established in 2001 after a report found the area contained the highest value conservation sites in the Strzeleckis including 'core' rare cool temperate rainforests and 'links' from Gunyah Gunyah Rainforest Reserve to Tarra Bulga National Park.

Under the new deal the cores and links area will be returned to public ownership and protected.

The State Government will pay $5.5 million and offer "in-kind" support to HVP.

An extra 15,000 hectares of native bushland surrounding the cores and links which the government and HVP claims contains significant rainforest and animal habitat, will also be protected from timber harvesting.

However 1500 hectares of plantation within the cores and links will be subject to a once-off harvest and regenerated with local species over the next 20 years.

This was also agreed to in the 2006 deal to enable HVP to meet a contractual obligation to Australian Paper's Maryvale mill.

Environmental groups have condemned last week's decision saying it does not resemble the terms of the 2006 Heads of Agreement.

They have also hit out at the government and HVP for not consulting with them on the final agreement and fear it will cause the destruction of the Strzelecki cores and links area.

Friends of the Earth spokesperson, Anthony Amis described the decision as a "smokescreen" which would allow HVP to gut what was left of the rainforest reserve.

"We're not happy at all. It has essentially doubled the amount of logging in the reserve," he said.

"Areas such as College Creek which has national conservation significance, have no protection at all."

Mr Amis siad HVP should never have been given the right to log 1500 hectares within the cores and links. He said environmental groups did not agree with it in 2006, but understood the company's contractual arrangements.

"We now get 1500 hectares on the most sensitive area, we would never have nominated for logging in 100 years.

"It shouldn't be logged at all and Australian Paper will be linked to it. They're now going to be linked with logging highly contentious areas for making their paper products."

He said the 15,000 hectares of native forest surrounding the cores and links which would not be touched, would never have been logged because of its "dubious sawlog and pulp quality".

Friends of Gippsland Bush spokesperson, Susie Zent agreed the extra 15,000 hectares had no known significance in it ability to protect the cores and links area and was made up of fragmented pockets.

"They're not connected to anything, they haven't been assessed," she said.

"Having fragmented pockets of custodial land is of no value whatsoever."

She said the major purpose of the cores and links agreement was to connect the Gunyah Gunyah Rainforest to the Tarra Bulga National Park and allowing HVP to undertake its one-off harvest would "further fragment" the cores and links area.

"This decision is leading to further fragmentation which will lead to the demise of these cool temperate rainforests. That fragmentation wipes out flora and fauna in any region," Ms Zent said.

"As far as biodiversity outcomes it's an absolute disgrace, the government hasn't acted in good faith..."

The $5.5 million Strzelecki 'Deal'.

Under this deal, 350ha of rainforest reserve at College Creek, a site of National Conservation Significance will be gutted. Another 1150ha of rainforest reserve will also 'bite the dust'. Hancock have a very poor history of leaving adequate rainforest buffers in the Strzeleckis.

June 29: Some of the 100 concerned residents on a tour of the College Creek Area

The $5.5 million Strzelecki deal

Two images of the Cores & Links. The second image represents what will happen to rainforest reserve after this deal goes through. Red represents rainforest, white represents hardwood to be logged.

Victoria's Environment Minister Gavin Jennings has responded to concerns that the recent Strzelecki Ranges 'cores and links' deal will lead to the fragmentation and destruction of sensitive rainforest.

The Government's announcement was not in line with the original Heads of Agreement signed between the State Government, Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP), Australian Paper, Trust for Nature and community representatives in October 2006.

Friends of the Gippsland Bush spokesperson, Susie Zent said the new agreement did not honour the original point of the cores and links project, to connect the Gunyah Gunyah rainforest with the Tarra Bulga National Park.

The State Government will pay $5.5 million plus 'in-kind' support to HVP and it says that an extra 15,000 hectares of bushland will be protected, with 1500 hectares subject to a one-off harvest by HVP.

At this stage no detail has been provided to show which areas will be logged and as local groups were excluded from the final negotiations, there are major concerns that even the most sensitive areas are at risk.

Minister Jennings said it was clear two months ago that an agreement between the government, HVP and the environmental groups could not be reached. 'The difficulty was that negotiations had completely broken down between Hancock, the government and the community. 'At that point we had the option of either saying 'it's all too hard' or alternatively embark upon negotiations to keep the agreement alive and to deliver on the government's election commitment.'

What the Minister conveniently forgets in that statement is that he, and his predecessor gave an undertaking that if the community wasn't happy with the deal, it would not proceed. It was never to be 'a deal at any cost'.

Mr Jennings also responded to claims by Ms Zent that the extra 15,000 hectares that would be protected in the new agreement was not necessarily of any significance to the cores and links. He said 'The disappointing thing for any environmentalist around Australia will be to hear other environmentalists say that protecting native forest is not important.'

That is an outrageous statement for any Minister to make and Susie Zent barrelled into him saying 'The protection of native forests outside the Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve is a separate issue and confuses people. 'Enhancing existing parks and reserve systems is critical in maintaining the biological integrity of the region,' she said. An independent scientific review commissioned by the Strzelecki Forest Community Group comprising three shires, the Trust for Nature, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and environmental groups, identified the Cores and Links as the key Biodiversity Areas linking Tarra Bulga National Park to Gunyah Gunyah Rainforest Reserve. 'Retaining the integrity and continuity of this rainforest reserve is critical in maintaining the biodiversity values of the Strzelecki bioregion. Fragmentation leads to species extinction on local and regional levels' Ms Zent added.

The announcement by the Government and HVP allows for double the volume of wood and areas of National and state significance to be harvested, compared with the areas protected by the previous Environment Minister under the Heads of Agreement signed by the Strzelecki Forest Community Group the Trust For Nature, HVP and Australian Paper.

'There were very specific areas which were targeted strategically for a one off harvest. This was agreed to by the government and the company on maps attached to the HoA. It did not include the harvesting of College Creek, a site of National significance or Merriman's a site of State significance. Both Core areas of rainforest,' Ms Zent said

'We applaud any moves to protect 20,000 hectares of native forest, however outside the cores and Links, the custodial land varies in size quality and is often isolates. Where is it? What has the government signed off on? How will it be protected? 'Is the minister going to amend the VPC Act which allows for the conversion of all native forests on former VPC Land. Friends of Gippsland Bush are still waiting for 12000 hectares of native reserves to be set aside, which was promised to the people of Gippsland in 1997. 'This is not a good deal for the community or the future managers of the reserve, the Trust for Nature, as they have been excluded from negotiations after 10 years of hard work. 'We cannot support any agreement (nor did minister Thwaites) which contributes to the destruction of the core areas of Rainforest of the Strzeleckis', Ms Zent added.

Jack River core area soon to be gutted by Hancock.

Merrimans Creek another logging wipe-out will happen here in areas previously protected by the 2006 Cores and Links Announcement

This supposed conservation reserve soon to fall at Merrimans Creek

It will be interesting if people ring the Wilderness Society and Victorian National Parks Association to establish if they still endorse the destruction of Rainforest sites of National and State significance. Their endorsement of this proposal has been used by the Minister and Hancock Victorian Plantations to validate this deal, with HVP actually requesting media to contact groups associated with the press release below. For TWS call Gavan McFadzean, on 0414 754 023 and for VNPA call Matt Ruchel, VNPA, on 0418 357 813

Give Gavan McFadzean (above) from the Wilderness Society a call and ask him about rainforest protection in the Strzeleckis.

How TWS and VNPA groups supported this dodgy deal, sending out the following press release with zero consultation with Friends of Gippsland Bush, Strzelecki Forest Community Group or Friends of the Earth even though FoGB and FoE had been working and monitoring in the Strzeleckis for the since 1996 and were privy to negotiations under the 2006 Heads of Agreement. On the other hand TWS and VNPA had minimal experience in the region, meaning that TWS and VNPA (probably?) had no idea about the technicalities of what they were signing, leaving them wide open for criticism about sending national sites of conservation significance to the Maryvale pulpmill. Shortly after publicly supporting the Strzelecki deal, the following press release was supposedly withdrawn from both the TWS and VNPA websites. This really is AMATEUR HOUR from supposed professionals! 3 days after publicly stating their support VNPA state that the announcement was a stuff up and less than a week after publicly supporting the deal, Gavan Macfadzean refuses to talk to media and instead cowardly forwards media to Friends of the Earth!

On June 3 2008 Strzelecki Campaigner stated in an email: "Had a brief chat with Matt Ruchel. He confirmed that VNPA had not been involved in any discussions/negotiations with Ben Hart or DSE and that the press release on the announcement was a 'stuff up'."

From a media outlet dated On June 10 2008: "The Wilderness Society seem to be backing away from their initial support of the deal. I received a media release from them ( which was sent to me by HVP!!) praising the deal, and after 48 hours of chasing, several phone calls and e-mails, I finally got a response from TWS - referring me to Friends of the Earth!! Who, clearly, don't support the deal at all. So they're obviously not interested in explaining why they support it, or if they still do. It's quite strange. We'll keep following the story."

As one Strzelecki campaigner put it on June 10 2008 about obvious TWS and VNPA greenwash: "But it's too late, HVP and Government are using this support to undermine what the locals and scientific reports are saying. HVP are also using Wilderness Society and VNPA to bypass FoE and FOGB to keep their FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label which the Maryvale mill uses to flog off its paper."

An email dated June 10, 2008 reveals that McFadzean willingly sacrificed the Strzelecki Rainforest Reserve (and the voluntary work of 12 years by local conservationists), in order to look good with Government to negotiate possible outcomes for East Gippsland. This now means that no local forest campaign is safe from being undermined by the Wilderness Society. The Government says jump. TWS will say how high!

"Dear Phil, Today 14 MCG sized football fields of native forest will be destroyed in Vic, the Gunyah tree is no less or more important. I am in the Ministers office today trying to save the last stands of old growth in East Gippsland. I can assure you I will work to protect as much of it as possible over the coming years, as I have over the past 20. I am across the Strzelecki decision and am aware that it unfortunately did not protect everything we all wanted. Unfortunately no government decision ever has. That is why we are still campaigning. Please do not send me any further emails on the subject. Cheers G - Gavan McFadzean - Victorian Campaigns Manager"

Strzelecki Ranges: Smiths Creek Rainforest May 2008. Smiths Creek lies next to College Creek and both creeks flow into Middle Creek. This is what Hancock plan to do to College Creek in the near future. What environmental groups in their right mind would support this kind of activity in sites of national conservation significance?

Friday 30 May 2008 Media Release

Sell Outs!