There have been increasing incidents of forest protestors entering coupes without prior authorisation and notice, and encroaching on areas where mechanical harvesters are felling trees.
VicForests would like to reiterate that active coupes are dangerous environments – posing a significant risk of serious injury or death, and that these incursions also create an unacceptable workplace risk to machine operators.
VicForests asks for all protestors to adhere to Timber Harvesting Safety Zones and, in the strongest possible terms, urges anyone entering an active coupe to notify safety officers at the coupe landing.
The ABC has corrected its report on 19 December 2019 claiming that VicForests had illegally harvested outside its Allocations Order.
The ABC amended the article and stated: “Editor’s note: This story has been edited to clarify that no formal finding of illegality has been made.”
VicForests had complained to the ABC about the article after it was published.
VicForests made its complaint after a similar earlier incident in a 2018 story, in which the ABC also incorrectly claimed VicForests had harvested illegally.
On that occasion, the Audience and Consumer Affairs Investigations Manager said the ABC accepted that the relevant online story: “stated incorrectly that ‘An ABC investigation recently found VicForests had illegally logged some areas because it was operating outside of its allocation’.” This claim was corrected some months after the complaint.
VicForests has submitted to the ABC that it has not upheld its own Editorial Standards 2.1 and 2.2:
2.1 Make reasonable efforts to ensure that material facts are accurate and presented in context.
2.2 Do no present factual content in a way that will materially mislead the audience. In some cases, this may require appropriate labels or other explanatory information.
VicForests awaits a formal response from the ABC to the complaint submitted in response to the December 2019 article.
VicForests reiterates that it is confident that all its current harvesting operations are consistent with the Allocation Order and that it takes its responsibility to harvest native timber seriously.
VicForests’ CEO Monique Dawson has committed to the continued support of 10 contractors and 90 workers who have been impacted by a force majeure notice because fires have meant timber supply cannot be guaranteed in the foreseeable future from East Gippsland.
VicForests response to The Age article 'While Victoria's forests burnt, logging continued'
17 January 2020
VicForests has not conducted any timber harvesting operations in East Gippsland since 20 December 2019.
All available VicForests foresters, planners and harvest crews, are involved in, and in many cases leading, local fire response. This includes direct firefighting, firebreak works and managing emergency road clearance.
VicForests is balancing its significant contribution to the fire response with the need to ensure sufficient timber supply to avoid processor shutdowns as this would deepen the impact on towns already affected by the fires.
VicForests operates in accordance with Forests (Fire Protection) Regulations and procedures that are more rigorous that Total Fire Ban restrictions.
Around 20% of the timber felled through harvesting is left as biomass to support forest regeneration.
VicForests responds to Victorian fires
7 January 2020
VicForests staff and contractors are supporting the fire response and state-wide recovery efforts currently underway across the east and north-east parts of Victoria.
VicForests response to the ABC regarding a news item making inaccurate allegations about our harvesting activity
19 December 2019
The following comments from VicForests CEO Monique Dawson were provided to the ABC:
“It is normal for the TRP to include some coupes or areas outside the Allocation Order. VicForests cannot harvest these areas without prior special approval from the regulator.
Typically, areas beyond the AO include road accesses, regenerating coupes from previous TRPs, and sometimes a part of a coupe whose boundary follows natural features that fall outside of the AO.
VicForests does not harvest without appropriate approvals, and when an area is recognised to be outside the Allocation Order we have always sought and received required permissions from the regulator or the Minister before harvesting.
The ABC claims have focused on a coupe called Squirrel’s Paw.
The current, more detailed, Allocation Order 2019 has clarified and confirmed that Squirrel’s Paw is within the harvesting area. This is consistent with VicForests’ view that Squirrel’s Paw was within the harvestable area when it was harvested.
VicForests is confident all its current harvesting operations are consistent with the Allocation Order.”
VicForests has today released the Timber Release Plan (TRP) amendment following the Victorian Government’s release of the Allocation Order.
VicForests Chief Executive Officer Nathan Trushell said the TRP provides detail on which coupes will potentially be harvested - subject to forest protection surveys, operational assessment and stakeholder consultation.
VicForests Celebrates Victorian Forests on World Forest Day
21 March 2019
Victorian forests are vital for the economic, social and environmental future of our state. They support thousands of jobs across Victoria in the native timber, processing and manufacturing industries, provide beautiful locally grown and sourced materials for buildings and furniture and are a vital ecosystem protecting and fostering local biodiversity.
This World Forests Day, VicForests acknowledges and celebrates the important role of forests in our society.
VicForests continues to provide important education and community support activities across Victoria, highlighting Victorian forests' contribution and their place as the ultimate renewable resource.
There is 7.1 million hectares of public forests across Victoria with 94 per cent protected in parks, reserves or unsuitable for native timber harvesting.
VicForests is a state-owned business that takes a science-based approach to harvesting timber, undertaking this task on a sustainable cycle, allowing regrowth of 50 to 100 years, and operating under rigorous Government regulation and independent scrutiny.
VicForests has announced its successful 3-year re-certification under the Responsible Wood standard.
An audit was conducted across the business in December 2018 and recommended VicForests re-certification highlighting its thorough workplace and contractor safety standards, contractor management and continued contribution to research.
The Responsible Wood standard is endorsed by the international Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) – the largest such system in the world which covers more than 300 million hectares of forest, has 49 national members and equates to around two-thirds of the world's total certified forest area.
VicForests is supporting Patchwork Collections Yarra Valley Inc. with a $2000 contribution toward the purchase of backing fabric, wadding and threads.
The grant, delivered under VicForests’ Community Support Program, ensures Patchwork Collections Yarra Valley can continue their vital work providing quilts to those in need.
Since 2010, Patchwork Collections Yarra Valley has provided hand-made quilts, free of charge, to local community members impacted by hardship, illness and given to very sick children at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
Deloitte Access Economics Study Provides Insight into Economic Impact of Native Timber Industry
30 November 2018
VicForests, today, released a study by Deloitte Access Economics showing the economic impact of native forestry in Victoria.
Commissioned by VicForests, The Economic Impact of VicForests on the Victorian Community found the native timber industry generates significant revenues and supports thousands of jobs across regional Victoria.
The study found VicForests, its customers and contractors generated $770 million in revenue during 2015/16 and supported over 2500 jobs, many which are in regional areas.
VicForests Response to ABC Claims of Illegal Harvesting
21 November 2018
VicForests refutes claims made by ABC regarding illegal harvesting.
The ABC have based their story on a narrow interpretation of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004. Under the Act, VicForests must comply with the terms and information described in the Allocation Order as gazetted.
VicForests is confident its operations are consistent with the Allocation Order including the forest zoning scheme.
VicForests, today, released the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) audit report (May 2018) and reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing certification of FSC® Controlled Wood standard.
In conjunction with the results, VicForests released its FSC® 2020: VicForests Controlled Wood Roadmap outlining the steps for VicForests to achieve its goal and address non-conformities raised in the audit.
VicForests will resubmit for certification of FSC® Controlled Wood standard by 2020.
Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s Central West Investigation Draft Proposals Paper
31st August 2018
VicForests welcomes the release of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s (VEAC) Central West Investigation Draft Proposals Paper.
The VEAC report provides an important opportunity for public debate around the conservation, use and sustainability of public forests and reserves in central west Victoria.
Through its Community Forestry program, VicForests undertakes operations in many areas reviewed by the VEAC investigation including Mount Cole, Mount Lonarch, The Wombat and Wellsford State forests and the Pyrenees ranges.
A media story has been prominent in the last two days alleging VicForests admitted a research project it is undertaking in East Gippsland may cause the death of Greater Gliders.
These claims are misleading. It’s important to clearly state some facts:
The words in the email referred to in the story were written a year ago and had nothing to do with the current research project.
VicForests apologises to the many interested parties who found the story distressing.
VicForests will continue to operate in a safe, efficient and sustainable manner, balancing needs of the environment, our staff and rural communities whose livelihood depends on a successful forestry industry.
This information may assist in providing some facts around the current story. read more
NAIDOC week statement
VicForests would like to take the opportunity during NAIDOC week to reflect, acknowledge and respect the long-held forest based cultural and spiritual connections that Aboriginal people have. These connections are significant, current and respected. Aboriginal people developed and implemented land management techniques and fire regimes over millennia which shaped the forests that Australians know, love and value.
Aboriginal people are a part of the forest and timber industries and we encourage this going forward.
With respect to this year’s NAIDOC week, ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ we would particularly like to acknowledge Aboriginal women and their connections to forests and community. As well we’ve recently met with female Traditional Owners from the East Gippsland region and we would like to take this opportunity to once again thank them for their generosity during these meetings.
Finally, we wish Aboriginal communities an enjoyable NAIDOC week.
VicForests today released to the Mirboo North community a social impact scoping summary report that assessed concerns and support around plans to harvest coupes near the town.
VicForests’ General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Alex Messina, said he has released the report to give stakeholders, including the Preserve our Forests Steering Committee, the community and Local Government a summary of feedback provided to VicForests during interviews in August 2017.
VicForests today released to the Noojee community a social impact scoping summary report conducted last August that assessed concerns around plans to harvest coupes near the town.
VicForests’ General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Alex Messina, said he has released the report because it will give stakeholders including local residents and the Baw Baw Shire Council a summary of the feedback provided to VicForests during the interviews in August 2017.
Media Statement following hearing in Federal Court
10 May 2018
The Federal Court today continued an injunction brought against VicForests by the Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum (FLBP), preventing VicForests from harvesting timber in five coupes in the Central Highlands and West Gippsland.
The application for an injunction was submitted by FLBP, as part of the Amended Statement of Claim; a follow-on of the original case brought against VicForests in March regarding the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act exemption.
A Spot-tailed quoll was recently sighted in the Erica State Forest.
Spot-tailed quolls are rare; they are listed as Threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC)
VicForests today released pre-harvest maps of a Noojee timber coupe indicating that total protected and buffered areas comprise 13 hectares, or nearly one quarter (24%), of the gross coupe area.
This area includes about 7ha of additional voluntary visual buffers in response to community preferences to screen the “Backdoor” coupe from the centre of the township.
The Noojee coupe plan is available on request.
Federal Court grants interim injunction
24 April 2018
VicForests will defend an application for an injunction brought by the Friends of Leadbeaters Possum Inc (FLBP).
The court today granted an interim injunction regarding six coupes until 2 May, 2018, when the Court will hear arguments about whether a final injunction will be imposed.
VicForests announced today that it would retain habitat areas around about 20 habitat trees identified through field assessments and three night surveys of the Noojee Backdoor coupe, scheduled for harvesting towards the end of April.
Alex Messina, VicForests General Manager Corporate Affairs said “This is part of a routine and thorough pre-harvest process designed to double check and update desktop data before any harvest.
After listening to the Noojee community VicForests has confirmed it will implement a 100 metre wide buffer on a timber harvesting coupe nearby to ensure the area will not be visible from the centre of town.
This buffer, which is an extension to the existing environmental buffers, was confirmed at an Open Day VicForests hosted in Noojee on Sunday 18 March.
The Neerim South Wetlands played host to the 2017 Neerim Frog Festival, celebrating a decade-long rehabilitation of the wetlands by Neerim District Landcare group.
Following a ‘pilot’ festival last year supported by VicForests, this year’s Neerim Frog Festival attracted more support, activities and attendees, who came out to see, and appreciate, Landcare’s work on the wetlands.
Consultation period runs from 4 December 2017 to 12 January 2018
VicForests is seeking input from local community members on the proposed updates to its Timber Release Plan, relating to timber harvesting operations in North East Victoria, West Gippsland and East Gippsland regions.
Listening to the community ensures that we are aware of what is important to them, so that we can incorporate these things into our plans. (More.)
A $2,000 investment in Warragul-based charity, Baw Baw Combined Churches Food Relief, will go towards helping more than 700 families within the Baw Baw Shire access emergency food supplies.
The grant was provided by VicForests, as part of its Community Support Program, and will go towards the operational costs of the volunteer-run organisation, which relies on donations and contributions to continue providing its vital services to those in need. (More.)
Cann River Community Centre this year awarded two prizes worth $250 each as part of its 2017 Arts, Crafts and Photography Expo thanks to VicForests’ Community Support Program contributions.
The Expo, running from 3 to 7 November, had 189 entries from 61 artists, which showcased the artistic skills of the local community with a wide range of art forms represented, including quilting, painting, photography, drawing, soft textiles, woodwork and mixed media. (More)
VicForests has commenced a stakeholder consultation phase to encourage relevent stakeholders to comment on our expertise in, and execution of, forestry management practices as journey towards our goal of seeking Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Controlled Wood (CW) certification for our operations in the regions of Central Highlands and East Gippsland. (More).
Click hereto read more about our plans to seek FSC®
VicForests has achieved a positive profit from operations before tax of $1.5 million in 2016/17, highlighting the continued demand for native timber in Victoria. This is a good result considering the operational challenges we have faced. The company’s result after tax was a loss of $3.2 million, due to a decrease in the accounting valuation of the area of State forest available to be harvested for timber. (More)