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Vic Auditor-General report is scathing of DELWP management

The Victorian State Government’s decision to halt native timber harvesting should deliver outcomes for the environment, protected species, and climate change, according to Victorian Forest Products Australia (VFPA). Source: Timberbiz

The ‘Protecting Victoria’s Biodiversity’ report, however, clearly shows the Government is failing in its responsibilities to the environment while deciding that native forestry must end.

Released by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office this week, the report is scathing of The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) management of Victoria’s biodiversity and its ongoing decline.

According to the report, “DELWP cannot demonstrate if, or how well, it is halting further decline”.

The report notes that data used by DELWP in its models is old, likely outdated and has critical gaps raising questions about the reliability of outcomes and thus decision-making.

It further states that DELWP “lacks performance indicators and reporting to demonstrate the impact of its management interventions on halting the decline of threatened species”.

The VFPA has asked how can the State Government assess what works and what doesn’t when it comes to forest management?

Importantly, the Victorian community must rightly question the Government’s approach with more than seven million hectares of public land supposedly set aside to achieve biodiversity outcomes.

“Native forestry supports the Government’s objectives to sequester carbon as well as protecting critically endangered wildlife like the Leadbeater’s Possum,” VFPA CEO Deb Kerr said.

According to a paper presented at the Forestry Australia National Conference in Launceston, native forestry coupes provide enduring feeding habitats for these critically endangered possums around 15-20 years post-harvest. Moreover, the Leadbeater’s Possum’s habitat is protected under the Code of Practice for Timber Production. Harvesting is prohibited in areas where the possum is detected.

“It is obvious that a new management approach is needed if the Government’s own department is failing our most precious endangered species,” Ms Kerr said.

“Like Indigenous Australians who actively managed our forests over eons, management of our entire public land through multiple uses will be critical to their survival – as opposed to environmentalists who champion their anthropological view of wilderness through a ‘lock up and leave’ approach,” she said.