VicForests response to recent allegations on ABC Statewide Drive
23 February 2023
VicForests is aware of several false and misleading allegations made on ABC Statewide Drive on 21 February 2023.
We were not found to be illegally harvesting
The Supreme Court has not found that VicForests' 'illegally harvested'. These words do not appear anywhere in the 168-page judgment. The Judgment is available here.
The Court’s findings and Orders are about additional surveying that needs to be undertaken before future timber harvesting operations to meet the Court's new interpretation of what is required under the regulations. The Court has also ordered new additional protections beyond the specific rules in the regulations.
VicForests is a Government agency subject to the ordinary governance obligations and control of other Government agencies. There has been no view expressed by the Court that VicForests would act in any way other than in compliance with these orders. Suggestions that VicForests is continuing to harvest illegally or is 'rogue' are unfair and untrue.
We are currently developing new survey techniques for detecting any Greater Gliders and their home ranges, and any Yellow-Bellied Gliders, their feed trees and all hollow bearing trees to comply with these Orders.
In the meantime, we have not undertaken any timber harvesting that would breach the Court Order.
VicForests has appealed the decision with the matter listed on 23 March 2023. Given that this matter is still before the courts we will not be commenting further on this.
We are not logging in national parks
Works in the Wombat State Forest and the Dandenongs are in direct response to removing debris and treating hazardous trees resulting from storm events in 2021.
Works conducted in these areas are not harvesting operations. The claim that we are logging in national parks is untrue.
We are proud to be working in partnership with the Traditional Owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, to assist in restoring their Country in the Wombat State Forest and the surrounding areas. We are working with other Traditional Owners to support them in restoring their Country to health.
Managing and recovering fallen trees and debris following the storms is a sensitive operation requiring specialised planning and expertise. That’s why we have been engaged to assist with this important work.
We are not logging endangered species habitat for cheap paper
The areas in which VicForests plans its harvesting operations are allocated by a government Allocation Order. These areas have been specifically designated for timber harvesting. In a normal year VicForests would harvest around 0.04% of the forests, or 4 trees in every 10,000. All harvested areas are re-grown by law with our compliance audited on a regular basis.
Prior to undertaking timber harvesting, VicForests undertakes comprehensive planning to ensure that all operations meet the harvesting and biodiversity requirements under Victoria’s strict environmental regulatory system.
Through our planning process, special protections are applied for the management of threatened species and their habitat. Such protection measures comply with, and often exceed, regulatory prescriptions.
Our sustainable native timber harvesting focuses on the retention of habitat and protecting threatened species. We assess all coupes for the presence of threatened species and habitat values.
There are many different qualities of timber that can come from an individual tree.
Pulpwood is the residue of the sawlog harvesting program. It is the top part of the tree harvested for sawlog production, or whole trees that are not suitable to be sawn. The use of pulpwood in critical products like paper and toilet paper means that the whole tree is used economically. It would be a poor environmental outcome if the non-sawlog parts of harvested trees were left in the forest to dry out and become heavy fuel.
In the last financial year, we sold 341,121 m3 of sawlog and 577,127 m3 of pulplog.
In addition to pulplog, we provide the state with structural timber used for homes, high grade wood for furniture, pallets, musical instruments and a range of other every day, essential products.
The demand for firewood continued with sales of 36,749 m3.