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Friday analysis: if someone shouts in the forest does anyone hear it

Pic: Victorian National Parks Association

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, sustainably managed forests will help us move to an economy based on renewable, reusable, and recyclable materials.

And as the world celebrated International Day of Forests on Monday, VFPA CEO Deb Kerr was calling on all sides of politics to invest in the future of our production forests.

She was not alone. Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia joined the chorus of voices around the world celebrating International Day of Forests and the essential role sustainably managed forests play in supplying much-needed timber to our renewable industries, while supporting jobs and regional communities.

However, in Victoria, many were not listening.

The Weekly Times reported this week that around 500,000 tonnes of windblown trees have been left lying on the floor of Wombat State Forest, felled by a storm last June.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and VicForests have reportedly been blocked by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s conservation regulator from clearing the tens of thousands of messmate, narrow-leaf peppermint, manna and other gums from site.

Apart from the ridiculous loss of a valuable resource, many have described the situation as a “ticking fire bomb”, according to the Weekly Times.

The Weekly Times understands DELWP has threatened VicForests with legal action if they go ahead and start harvesting, while also writing to the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation opposing the deal.

And some people weren’t listening on Thursday in the State’s Upper House when the Opposition tried to amend legislation which would block third-party legal action against timber harvesting.

The bid failed when key cross-bench MPs refused to back it.

It was a savage blow to the Opposition’s bid to save the native timber industry in Victoria.

Most telling was a comment from Independent MP Cliff Hayes who told the Upper House: “The minister has assured me that this bill, if passed, will not make it more difficult for environmental groups to take legal action against VicForests… ‘’

As Assistant Shadow for Public Land Use Melina Bath put it, this comment was despite Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio stating that the Bill’s intent was to provide more “clarity and certainty” in the Timber Code of Practice.

Again, as Ms Bath put it, how do these people sleep at night?