Two images of the Cores & Links Rainforest Reserve. The second image represents what will happen to rainforest reserve after this deal goes through. Red represents rainforest, white represents hardwood to be logged.
"The announcement means a 1500ha clearfell in the most biologically significant forest area of the Strzelecki Region. Strzelecki Rainforest will be the biggest loser out of the whole deal. The company will be paid $5 million for logging these forests and will then also benefit financially by setting aside 20,000 hectares of native forest as 'carbon sinks'" said Mr Amis.
"Many of the forests to be reserved as 'carbon sinks' would not have been of interest to the timber industry anyway because they are on very steep slopes or are species not suited for pulping or sawing. Hancock have at least 20,000 hectares of additional native forest in the region which isn't going to 'reserved' as carbon sinks. Why? The only winner out of this deal is Hancock Victorian Plantations and it comes at the expense of the local environment and local community" said Mr Amis.
For 12 years local conservationists have monitored logging in the forests in the Strzelecki Ranges which were privatised by the Kennett government, and have sought greater protection for rainforest. In 2001 Biosis completed a biodiversity report into the Strzeleckis which in turn kick-started a campaign for an 8500ha Strzelecki Rainforest Reserve. The Reserve would link up the existing reserves of Tarra Bulga National Park to Gunyah Gunyah Rainforest Reserve. The local community was represented in the negotiations to set up the Reserve by the Strzelecki Forest Community Group. The 2006 Heads of Agreement on the Strzeleckis, whilst not perfect, would have allowed for once only logging in a portion of the reserve (~800ha), as a means of allowing Hancock to meet their 600,000 cubic metre pulp log shortfall to the Maryvale Pulp Mill.
Minister Jennings, however, has doubled the amount of timber to come from the Rainforest Reserve which potentially will amount to 700,000 cubic metres of pulpwood and 230,000 cubic metres of sawlogs. Rainforest in the Strzelecki's has less than one third protection as that which occurs in State Forests. It is extremely vulnerable to the disease Myrtle Wilt, which is increased by logging. Jennings has increased the logging volumes to come out of these vulnerable areas thereby increasing the risk of Myrtle Wilt in these rainforests."I doubt whether much of the regions rainforest will survive the oncoming onslaught. This decision could lead to rainforest ecocide" said Mr Amis.
Minister John Thwaites sought community input to form a Heads of Agreement in October 2006. Minister Jennings announced today that the 2006 Heads of Agreement no longer existed and would be replaced by a new Agreement signed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Hancock. The new agreement of course has had no community input at all. "Essentially HVP can take any volume they want from the Rainforest Reserve, destroying the ecological attributes of the Rainforest Reserve whilst the taxpayer tax payer gets to foot the bill. The Minister has effectively ignored all scientific advice and recommendations and sanctioned the company's agenda which was rejected by the Strzelecki Forest Community Group in 2005 and by Minister Thwaites in 2006.
FSC Watch Article: How to ransack what's left of the Strzelecki Ranges by logging 1.1 million cubic metres of a future rainforest reserve and high conservation value native forests. Starring Hancock Victorian Plantations and the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Kelly Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Hancock have started logging this controversial area with no consultation with local community groups, despite signing a Heads of Agreement supposedly protecting this rainforest area in October 2006. 19 months after the signing Hancock are ramping up their logging regimes inside the reserve in order to meet unsustainable contracts to Maryvale Pulp Mill.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Kelly Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. FSC certified roading drainage. Collapsing log landing batters after only 10mm rainfall. This is a rainforest reserve. How will this site remediate itself post logging. This 'shonky operation' also most likely breaches the Code of Forest Practice.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Kelly Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. FSC certified roading drainage and log landing. What will happen to this when it rains?
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Kelly Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. FSC certified roading operation. Literally tonnes of soil have been dumped off the side of this track, a clear breach to the Code of Forest Practices. A disgusting look in a rainforest reserve. Hancock have been operating in the wet.
Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Yellow marks where Hancock have entered into the Jack River Catchment at Kelly Track, Summerfield Track, Jack Road and Dubois Track.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Again no consultation with local community. This track is very wide and is more like a logging highway, situated in a supposed rainforest reserve. How will this be remediated. Is this logging company overkill?
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Hardwood planted in 1977, but in no way looks like a plantation. Another FSC certified ruse? 80-90% of the timber coming off this site will be sent to Maryvale Pulp Mill.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Have Hancock contractors been working under the influence of alcohol?
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. High quality reforestation, not plantation, now getting the Hancock logging treatment.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Lots of native vegetation had been logged here including blackwoods. Where are the blackwoods being milled and why aren't they left on site in this rainforest reserve?
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Does this look like a plantation to you? This is the quality of native vegetation being logged by Hancock.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Eucalyptus Viminalis being logged at this site.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Debois Track inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Viminalis seed pods.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Jack Road inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. This tree was logged for no apparent purpose and left on the forest reserve floor. Why?
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Jack Road inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Note high erosion potential on batters.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Jack River catchment: Jack Road inside Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Soil pushed into gully inside rainforest reserve.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment: Another rainforest wipeout has been occurring in this catchment since 2006. This recently logged coupe is no exception.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. The Smiths Creek debacle is occurring outside of the supposed Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. Hancock are redefining rainforest in order to grant measely buffers of <20m. This is 3 times less than buffers warranted in rainforest in State Forests. FSC have sat on their hands about this matter, with FSC auditor Smartwood allowing Hancock to get away with this ecological travesty since February 2004.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. Hancock at their worst can be seen in this photo which apparently represents best practice FSC certified rainforest management. A few Silver Wattles are apparently enough to protect the rainforest at Smiths Creek from the impact of wildfire and the disease Myrtle Wilt, which is spread via spores.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. A longer shot view of practically non-existent rainforest buffers, apparently sanctioned by FSC.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. Tributary of Smiths Creek, showing hopeless buffer falling onto Myrtle Beech Tree. This is a common way that Beech trees become infected with the Myrtle Wilt virus, which enters the Beech trees via wounds caused by tree fall.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. Closer view of lack of buffer at Smiths Creek. This rainforest survived gross disturbance in the 1970's from APM and is just recovering from those times. Now it gets 'hammered' again by inappapropriate logging regimes this time by Hancock. Why is FSC still doing business with Hancock?
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. More tree fall onto Myrtle Beech in Smiths Creek drainage line. High winds can cause surrounding trees to topple into rainforest, especially after logging.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. Wattle falling into Beech tree.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Smiths Creek catchment. Another alcohol can dropped by Hancock contractors? Can this explain Hancock's poor performance?
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Antonio Creek catchment/Jack River. In 2006 pines were logged from this site. Pines have been replanted and native species are also growing between the pines. Usually the native species are killed by an application of the herbicide Hexazinone. Hexazinone is residual and highly mobile if washed off site during rainfall events. Jack River flows into Nooramunga Marine Reserve which could get a dose of Hexazinone in the near future.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Albert River catchment. Trashed tributary/drainage line near Yarram/Madalya Rd which again breaches the Code of Forest Practices, as this drainage line was deeper than 30cm.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Albert River catchment. 30 year old Pine plantations 'biting the dust'.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Albert River catchment off Albert River Road. Native forest was logged at this site and replanted with Shining Gum in 2000. Problem now is that the Shining Gum are not growing very well at all. Alot of this 8 year old site was marked by very small and thin trees verging on failure. Hancock has a massive dilemma on the hands, in that their new Shining Gum plantations will apparently be almost exclusively supplying Maryvale Pulp Mill with hardwood by around the year 2016. Given that many of these plantations look like failing, how many others are in a similar bind? Rumours are already circulating that Hancock will be very hard pressed to meet contractual obligations to the Maryvale Pulp Mill and the failure of plantations will make this problem insurmountable. Hancock announced in 2006 that 1000ha of Bluegum Plantations had already failed in Central Gippsland, representing possibly two years contract to the pulp mill.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Albert River catchment off Albert River Road. Even worse growing Shining Gum plantations. What is the failure rate of Shining Gum and have investors been warned. Drought and poor soils could be a factor.
May 2008 Strzelecki Ranges/Morwell River catchment. Gray Gum Track about 18 months after logging commenced at this location in the Strzelecki Cores and Links rainforest reserve. Native vegetation trying to re-establish itself.
Sentinel Times (Leongatha) 6/5/08
Logging Deal Ditched by Ebonnie Lord
The $7 million deal save Strzelecki rainforest is no closer to resolution, 18 months after the State Government committed to the buyback.
The deadline for an agreement was last Friday. Friends of the Gippsland Bush (FoGB) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) are angry environment minister Gavin Jennings has excluded them from talks with logging company Hancock Victorian Plantations (HPV).
Chair for FoGB Susie Zent said when the 'Heads of Agreement' was signed in 2006, it was made clear by the then environment minister John Thwaites that there was a deal between Hancock, the government and collective community groups to protect the key biodiversity area called 'Cores and Links'.
"The Brumby Government is completely ignoring this purpose," Ms Zent said.
"FoGB as members of the Strzelecki Forest Community Group (SFCG), comprising South Gippsland, Latrobe and Wellington shires, the Catchment Management Authorities, the Trust for Nature (TFN) and community groups, who are signatories to the HoA, area at a loss to understand why Mr Jennings' staff would consider negotiating a deal with HVP.
Ms Zent said the 'one off harvest' of 1500 hectares that HPV are pushing for is not part of the deal.
"If this is what the government agrees to, it will mean the destruction of the proposed Rainforest Reserve linking Tarra Bulga National Park to the Gunyah Gunyah Rainforest Reserve.
"To make matters worse, the State Government will pay HVP millions of dollars to devastate the remnant wet and cool temperate rainforests of the Strzeleckis - areas identified as sites of National, State and Regional significance."
Ms Zent said this proposal would not be supported by the Gippsland community.
"Whatever happened to community consultation based on accountable transparent processes? Ms Zent asked.
FoE spokesperson Anthony Amis said they are also concerned that HVP and the Department of Sustainability and Environment are underhandedly working together to serve the contractual agreements, deliberately excluding the community.
"A recent Freedom of Information (FoI) Request explicitly shows that DSE and HVP had agreed on three options several days before the community was first invited in to negotiations in May 2006.
"The documents also showed that HVP's preferred option months prior to signing the Heads of Agreement was to knock out 460,000m3 of native forest as well as a large portion of the Cores and Links.
It appears that DSE was aware of HVP's plans, but the community was kept in the dark at the time" Mr Amis said.