VicForests welcomes ACMA's investigation report that the ABC breached broadcasting rules
9 November 2022
VicForests welcomes the report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation breached broadcasting rules in coverage of VicForests’ harvesting on steep slopes in April 2021.
Statements in each of the broadcasts conveyed that the Office of the Conservations Regulator (OCR) had found logging breaches by VicForests had put Melbourne’s drinking water at risk. ACMA found that these statements by the ABC did not accurately reflect the OCR’s published statements.
We continue to be disappointed by repeated claims of systemic unlawful timber harvesting on steep slopes. In the interests of transparency we are publishing the data, this being the same data that was provided to parties that resulted in misleading and false claims.
As we have stated, the regulations provide that up to 10% of a planned harvest can exceed 30 degrees as long as any potential environmental impacts, such as soil movement and erosion are carefully managed. This has been a longstanding rule and was clarified in last year’s Code amendments.
Any analysis that only includes post-harvest slope measurement is not an accurate assessment of slope compliance against the regulations.
Our analysis based on the latest available elevation data from LiDAR and Victoria’s publicly available dataset, VicMap Elevation DEM 10m published in July 2020 shows that of the 365 coupes in the Thomson and Upper Goulburn catchments, 2 coupes (0.5% of all coupes) may not align with regulatory requirements. Further, pre-harvest slope surveys in 9 showed that the planned harvest areas were below 30 degrees and therefore compliant with the regulatory requirements. Two were road improvement operations and based on an existing road footprint. Further our analysis showed that one coupe access track was prepared and subsequently was not harvested and one coupe was pre-VicForests.
We take our responsibility of sustainably harvesting coupes within our state forests for today and future generations extremely seriously and reject allegations that we have engaged in widespread and systemic breaches of slope prescriptions.