Until the trees run out.

When the Andrews government announced “an immediate end to the logging of old growth forests in Victoria” (7 November 2019) I thought, like most, that meant an immediate end to the logging of old growth forests in Victoria. Duh. What else could it possibly mean?

Well. What the statement actually means is that the government will (supposedly) immediately cease the logging of mapped old growth forests in Victoria while continuing (definitely) to log the life out of the unmapped areas. Old growth, new growth, all of it. Business as usual for the next decade.

There is much about the forestry industry that will probably always remain a dark, dirty mystery to me and this mapping business, which I came across in Ed Hill’s brilliant breakdown of the announcement, has been messing with my head for far too many hours.

Basically, as I understand it, VicForests decides what areas contain old growth and map them as such. But there are still unmapped sections of the forest that contain old growth trees. These unmapped areas aren’t protected. At all. This is why we can’t pop those champagne corks just yet.

Now, backing up a sentence or two. VicForests decides what areas contain old growth. How? Well, first they decide that old growth is 120 years plus as it takes that long for a Mountain Ash to reach maturity. Then they decide they’ll call any trees between 50 – 120 years old as young, regrowth trees. So a 100 year old Mountain Ash that has never been logged and is on its way to another 100 years of life and is in an unmapped area of forest gets classified as young, regrowth and ready for the bulldozers. Allowing this state-owned company to self-identify old growth forests is, in the words of Ed Hill, “like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”

The government’s contract with Japanese-owned company, Australian Paper, ends in 2030. Victorian forests are staring down an ecological disaster, all because of Australian Paper. Again, in the words of Hill, “this contract will continue until the trees run out, and the industry collapses”.

I bet some of those trees are wishing they could actually run out. Could pick up their roots and hightail it to safer ground. Start a new life, a new family. A new, stronger ecosystem.

The mycorrhizal networks of the Mountain Ash clan in Victoria must be in overdrive. What are they saying to each other?, I wonder. What panicked, underground messages are zipping along with the nutrients? How are they dealing with their eco-grief? I hope they know that some of us care and that help is on the way.

What You Can Do

  • Avoid Reflex paper. Tell your friends, family and work place to do so too.
  • Check out Ethical Paper. They have a list of the planet-friendly stuff.
  • Sign up to the Ethical Paper Pledge, as a business or individual.
  • Support the creation of the Great Forest National Park and the Emerald Link.
  • Join environment groups and communities for a Nature for Life rally at Parliament steps on 28 November 2019.
  • Write letters! Real letters, on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, of course. Much more effective than online petitions. Here are the main peeps who need to hear from you: Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change / Premier Daniel Andrews / Peter Williams, CEO Australian Paper / Officeworks, Coles, Woolworths and any biz that stocks the Reflex brand.

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