Category Archives: logging

“One stop shop” quick environmental approvals -to “simplify” business

Humane Society International Australia (HSI) 9th October Media Release, called upon Prime Minister Turnbull to call a halt to the disastrous and seriously faltering program to hand the Commonwealth’s environment powers to the states and territories, and to remove the “one-stop-shop” Bill that would permit such devolution.  “It was the Howard Government, in which Mr Turnbull served as Environment Minister, that worked so hard to strike a sensible balance between national and state roles and responsibilities for environmental issues and it’s time to restore that balance,” said HSI Australia Campaign Director Michael Kennedy.

HSI logo

The Australian Government is committed to delivering a One-Stop Shop Bill for environmental approvals that will accredit state planning systems under national environmental law, to create a single environmental assessment and approval process for nationally protected matters.

The One-Stop Shop policy aims to simplify the approvals process for businesses, lead to swifter decisions and improve Australia’s investment climate, while maintaining the facade of high environmental standards.

It’s expected to result in regulatory savings to business of around $426 million a year, by reducing costs associated with delays to project approvals and administration. This policy is about savings for businesses, more convenience for planning approvals, not stronger environmental protection laws!


Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says that the “one-stop-shop will slash red tape and increase jobs and investment, whilst maintaining environmental standards.”  One of the major obstacles to creating a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals is that “Australia’s federal system of government is more like a scrambled egg than a neatly layered cake”.  Despite the wide range of ecosystems, territories, issues, biodiversity, and landscapes, they will all be unified under one process!  It will wind back 30 years of legal protection for the environment and put at risk Australia’s World Heritage areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.  On the contrary, we need MORE red tape to STRENGTHEN our environmental protection laws, not have them more easily processed!

It’s one-size-fits-all approach, of the Federal Government handing over approval powers to the States, for “development” projects!  The latter should raise the red flag – on what should be for the benefit of conservation, biodiversity protection and upgraded protection laws, rather than for businesses and “development” approvals!

The Commonwealth proposes to transfer some of its current responsibilities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) to the States. VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone says that “in the current economic climate, removing the roadblocks to job creation and productivity is crucial.”

So, this is about stripping back layers of approvals, and complexity, to make businesses more competitive, create “jobs” and increasing “productivity”, not more layers of environmental protection!

Biodiversity Offsets

Biodiversity offsets allow developers or mining companies, as part of their development approval, to buy and/or manage land to compensate for the clearing of forests and areas containing threatened plants and animals. They are supposed to be used as a last resort but have become standard practise in assessing major developments in Australia. State standards for environmental assessment and approval for major projects under the Australian Government’s “one stop shop‟ policy would mean more biodiversity offsets, and lower conservation standards in NSW and Queensland.  The use of offsets under EPBC can be multiplied tenfold when it comes to state based offsetting regimes. It is these very regimes that the government is currently looking to accredit as approvals regimes under the “one stop shop” policy.
Native species of animals can’t just be expected to adjust to “offsets”!  They are not meant to be pieces on a chessboard, to be moved by business “players” for their convenience.
A report by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) warns against relegating environmental approval powers to state governments, saying the environment will suffer.  State governments are seeking to ‘fast track’ major developments, such as coal mine and coal seam gas projects, reducing public participation and removing legal rights of local communities to mount legal challenges.  The EDO report shows the gap between the environmental standards in state and national laws is widening, not aligning!
The EPBC Act contains a number of valuable tools such
as a critical habitat mechanism, provisions for threat
abatement plans, recovery plans, wildlife conservation
plans and the listing of key threatening processes.  There is no wriggle-room for State vested interests!
With almost 1200 plant species and 343 species of animals considered endangered or vulnerable, the rates of species extinction in Australia are amongst the worst on the planet.
EDO analysis confirms the finding that, despite assurances
that the ‘one stop shop’ policy would ensure State and
Territory laws met national standards, no State or
Territory law currently meets all the core requirements of
best practice threatened species legislation.
Places You Love Alliance — Australia’s largest ever environmental collaboration, representing more than 40 conservation organisations across the nation — said a ‘one-stop shop’ for environmental approvals was in practice an ‘eight-stop shop’ that would create an administrative nightmare and significantly weaken protection for Australia’s unique places and wildlife.
“A ‘one stop shop’ would leave state governments in charge of assessing uranium mines and projects that would affect World Heritage areas and internationally recognised wetlands,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

If the One Stop Shop policy is implemented, Minister Hunt can simply hand over his powers for this project to the Victorian Government, which has a clear conflict of interest in the  Westernport project as both the proponents and regulators. Under the One Stop Shop, the approval of the Hastings port expansion will be a fait accompli.

The One Stop Shop policy will remove the last vestiges of federal oversight.


Since 1997, most native forests available for logging have been covered by RFAs. These have shielded wildlife and other heritage and conservation values from protection under Commonwealth environmental law by handing decision-making power to state governments. This is the same mechanism as the Commonwealth government’s proposed ‘one stop shop’ plan.

It is clear that the ‘One-stop-shop’ process would never raise the bar of state environmental laws, but would put in place a patchwork of different legal regimes that are far weaker than current Commonwealth conservation law, and inevitably trigger a new round of NGO legal challenges at the state and territory level.


Share This:

Australia to launch new strategy to save endangered native animals

A strategy to save 20 declining native mammals such as the numbat, the greater bilby and the eastern barred bandicoot by 2020 will be launched in Melbourne this week. Threatened species commissioner Gregory Andrews said this plan would help address Australia’s unenviable record of having lost 29 native species since 1788.

The extinction of species in recent history has eclipsed the rate that the Earth would naturally lose species, and this gap is growing. Last week, another eight species were added to Australia’s list of threatened species, adding to a growing list of more than 1,800 Australian species and ecological communities at risk of extinction. Extinction is not inevitable. Extinction is a choice.

Conservationists examined the Federal Government’s current strategy to protect 120 of the most endangered animals in Australia and found for nearly 70 per cent of the animals, habitat loss from practices such as mining or logging was the biggest threat.


(image: “Numbat” by Martin Pot (Martybugs at en.wikipedia). Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The conservationists will take their concerns to the first national summit on threatened species next week. It is being hosted by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, with the aim of bringing attention to species in danger and looking at how best to protect plants and animals.

Successive Australian governments have failed to protect the habitat of the country’s most endangered creatures. A report, compiled by the Australian Conservation Foundation, BirdLife Australia and Environmental Justice Australia, states that recovery plans consistently avoid any measures to limit habitat loss and that successive governments have “entrenched the process of extinction”.

Around half of all of Australia’s forests have either been cut down or severely disturbed since European arrival on the continent, meaning the habitat of a vast array of species has become fragmented or vanished.


(image: Greater Bilby -David Fleay Wildlife Park, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, South Queensland)


Not without irony, just last Wednesday, federal environment minister Greg Hunt approved the Watermark Coal Mine in New South Wales. China’s thirst for coal will come at a cost! The Shenhua mine will destroy 771 hectares of some of eastern Australia’s most threatened ecosystems. These endangered box and gum woodlands are home to rare and rapidly-declining species, such as the colourful swift parrot, regent honeyeater and koalas.


(image: Clearfell Wet Eucalypt forest in Maydena South-west Tasmania 2013)

That approval, given under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, is not the final step. Shenhua still needs a mining license from New South Wales, and three further approvals on water management and rehabilitation from the federal government.

Policy coordinator for the Australian Conservation Foundation said: “Threatened species protection isn’t just about feral cats. It’s about a diverse range of pressures and the biggest threat is habitat clearance. We have a choice – we either accept that we put developments in less environmentally sensitive areas or we will have species go extinct.”

It has been estimated that a ten-year investment of $290 million would reverse the declines of our threatened wallabies, bettongs and other macropods. We spend billions of dollars for submarines that will only last a few decades, but we cannot afford a few hundred million to save our precious wildlife?

It’s a tremendous challenge, against the tide of urbanization, mining, logging industries. Australia, the most biologically diverse nation on the planet, is paying a high price for economic growth.

(featured image: “Cutest Koala” by Erik Veland – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)


Olive Vale in Cape York is just one example out of many clearing permits currently in the pipeline.

Stop the Dozers


Unless we stop habitat loss and limit global warming, our threatened species like the koala and the cassowary don’t stand a chance.

Protect the wildlife we love!

Share This:

Cruel blow for new national park and Leadbeater’s possums

A plan for a new national park to protect the endangered Leadbeater’s possum has been dealt a blow with revelations VicForests locked in millions of dollars worth of new logging contracts.  (The Age, Nov 15th)

Rather than Democracy, Corporatocracy – or the power of corporations- determines the fate of our own Victorian fauna Emblem.

The decision to set up a taskforce to strike a “consensus” followed pressure during the campaign from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and and Energy Union, which had threatened to campaign against Labor on concerns that ending logging in the area would threaten Gippsland jobs.  Threats against “jobs” is more important than small and seemingly insignificant fairy possums!

VicForests’ latest annual report suggests “ending logging before the 2018 election could be difficult”.  Their annual report shows they’ve negotiated various contracts to harvest and haul 900,000 cubic  metres of wood a year for the next three or four years!

The same State government can’t endorse a new national park, and also be the owner of VicForests.  It’s a contraction of terms, and a conflict of interests.  What this national park needs to protect is the ancient old-growth forest of Mountain Ash, and threatened native species, not  the “logging industry and jobs”!  Economic growth and jobs will eventually eat up all our natural resources!

What needs protecting can’t have the same owners that threaten to destroy it, for short-term monetary gain. Our State’s fauna emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum, needs protection from the same State government that is threatening the park’s implementation.

The Victorian state government revealed long-awaited terms of reference for an industry taskforce, established to navigate the explosive battles between loggers and environmentalists over the state’s native forests.  The taskforce will investigate issues including protection of threatened species such as the Leadbeater’s possum, job protection and economic activity.

Logging, conservation of the possums, are in direct conflict.  How is this impossible task to be negotiated?  You can’t have the old growth forests intact, and also have them chopped down, with Leadbeater’s possums losing their only homes?  Opening up the canopy of the forest will make them more vulnerable to fires, then the problem of the pesky possums will be solved- “naturally”.   Their final demise, extinction, will solve this tricky problem. Native forests animals are a threat to job protection, and constrict economic activities!

Conservations and scientists — including David Attenborough — have long argued that the park is needed to protect the possum, which is believed to be perilously close to extinction.  Clearly, “conservation” of logging jobs has priority over the conservation of our native animals, even threatened ones.  They prefer the possums go extinct rather than have logging jobs threatened. The mighty dollar has enormous power to wield over these decision, and the Great Forest National Park would be a threat to incomes!



(image:  Corduroy road built from native forest in the highly contested Gun Barrel logging coupe (297-526-0001), in Sylvia Creek Forest, north-east of Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia. This photo was taken on 13 September 2011, at which point logging had been banned here after the Victorian Supreme Court extended an injunction blocking the state-owned timber company, VicForests, from logging until at least February 2012, when the trial begins with MyEnvironment, a local environment organisation. The area is an important habitat for the endangered Leadbeater's possum, whose population was decimated by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.)

Lobby groups with vested interest in jobs, and logging, need to be given the chop!  The CFMEU want access to the forests for the benefit of their members.

This “blow” to the forest plan needs to be dealt with internally, from the State government.  The government’s position on logging in native forests is ambiguous, despite promising a special taskforce to examine the issue and help secure the long-term survival of Victoria’s iconic Leadbeater’s possum.

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Gordian knot was an extremely complicated knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia in Asia Minor. Located in the city of Gordium, the knot came to symbolize a difficult problem that was almost impossible to solve.  Alexander the Great’s solution to the problem led to the saying, “cutting the Gordian knot,” which means solving a complicated problem through bold action.  The bold action needed in this case is to make the brave, courageous and glaringly obvious political decision – the implementation of the Great Forest National Park!  Not all groups can be appeased, especially if their aims are purely monetary and short-term.

You can’t have contradictory policies, and you can’t have your cake and eat it too!


Share This:

Environment group wins battle to protect habitat for threatened powerful, sooty, masked owls

The Victorian Government has agreed to set aside 2,000 hectares of forest in East Gippsland to help protect three threatened species of owl.

An agreement was reached on Friday between Environment East Gippsland and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) before the case was scheduled to appear in the Supreme Court.

SootyOwl(image: Sooty Owl)

Owls, gliders, frogs, bandicoots, potoroos and untold other species were wiped out in the 2009 Black Saturday inferno. It will take decades for the damage from this shockingly managed fire to start to recover. East Gippsland’s rare species that relied on the Snowy Park for refuge will now be under even greater threat and need all the help they can get.

Environment East Gippsland’s Jill Redwood said it was a “fairly significant” win for the threatened Sooty, Masked and Powerful Owls. The State government is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Act, and environmental protection laws, but they are the convicted eco-criminals here!

Brown Mountain’s remaining unprotected stands of 580ha (including a Powerful Owl nest site) to be included in a Special Protection Zone, including 185ha that was scheduled for VicForests logging.

When the law-enforcers end up as the law-breakers, the public must take action!

Click here to listen to Jill Redwood, Nathan Trushell and Nina Cullen.

The three key species of threatened forest owls that live in areas of Victorian State Forest that VicForests operate within are the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua), Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae novaehollandiae) and Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa).

This 10 month case sought to enforce the state government’s obligations to protect 3 threatened owl species – the Sooty, Masked and Powerful Owls.

Environment East Gippsland argued that the government had failed to protect the legal minimum habitat for threatened owls, and that bushfires in 2014 destroyed large areas of protected owl habitat. Meanwhile, VicForests had plans to continue clearfelling unabated in areas where the rare owls survived.

“This agreement is one step in the right direction – but the most cost-effective way to protect threatened wildlife and avoid future legal disputes is to permanently protect their habitat, especially all remaining old growth forests in East Gippsland. The owls are just one of so many rare native animals in need of urgent protection. We hope to see the new Labor government works with the community to find win-win solutions, rather than paying out $5.5 million a year for VicForests to continue clearfelling critically important habitat”.

For comment: Jill Redwood – 5154 0145

Share This:

Great Forest National Park urgently needed

Great Forest National Park needs your pledge.

Victoria is still far from having a comprehensive, adequate and representative national park and conservation system, and most major threats to nature identified in past reviews are still very much with us – habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, harmful fire regimes, over-grazing, modified water flows. Precious habitat remnants are being bulldozed for urban expansion or roads. Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia, populations of native birds and animals are in freefall, and less than 25% of our rivers and creeks are in good condition.

The Great Forest National Park proposes that Victorians create and add a new 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The basis for this tenure change is weighed scientifically, socially and economically against 5 key reasons;

1. Conservation of near extinct wildlife and plants after Black Saturday and in light of future fire events.

2. Water catchments of Melbourne, LaTrobe and the Goulburn Murray systems. The largest area of clean water and catchment in Victoria. Food bowl and community security.

3. Tourism. This is Victoria’s richest ecological asset, but these magnificent forests have not yet been included in a state plan to encourage tourism. Our rural towns want and need this boost to tourism.

4. Climate. These ash forests store more carbon per hectare than any other forest studied in the world. They sequester carbon, modulate the climate and can act as giant storage banks to absorb excess carbon if they are not logged. The financial opportunity in carbon credits is significant and can be paid directly to the state when a system is established federally.

5. Places of spiritual nourishment. These magnificent forests have been described as a ‘keeping place’ by the traditional owners, a place to secure the story of the land and places of spiritual nourishment that we pass on to future generations. There should be no price tag on the value nature brings to mental health and spiritual well-being.

The tallest flowering trees on Earth grow north-east of Melbourne. In their high canopies dwell owls, gliders and the tiny Leadbeater’s (or Fairy) Possum. Victoria’s precious and endangered faunal emblem lives only in these ash forests of the Central Highlands.

Mountain_Ash_in_Victoria(image: Mountain Ash, Black Spur, Victoria)

David Lindenmayer, from the Australian National University, is an ecologist and conservation biologist who has spent over 30 years studying the Mountain Ash Forest of Victoria.

‘There’s a little mixture of things that always want to have the last word. The Lyrebird is one and the Kookaburra is another and the Eastern Yellow Robin and the Pilot Bird are two others,’ he says.

Eastern_yellow_robin(image: Eastern Yellow Robin, Victoria)

‘The birds are calling less than in the morning, but still nevertheless calling, and they’re just confirming their territories before there’s an extraordinary change in the light in this long dusk period,’
says Lindenmayer.

The Mountain Ash, and one of Australia’s most endangered mammals, the Leadbeater’s Possum, are threatened by ongoing clear-felling and bushfires.
The population of large old hollow-bearing trees has collapsed. These are a critical habitat for the animals that use them, including Leadbeater’s Possum. There is a high risk that the possums will become exinct in the next 20-40 years.


(image source:

Home to threatened species, including Victoria’s animal emblem – the Fairy Possum, the proposed park will also be a sanctuary, providing real and lasting protection to some of Victoria’s, and the world’s, rarest plant and animal species. Prominent environmentalists Tim Flannery and Bob Brown have lent their support to the campaign. Sir David Attenborough has weighed into the state election, backing a call for the creation of a Great Forest National Park to protect the state faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum.

The environmentalist’s intervention comes as a survey found 89 per cent of Victorians support the creation of a new national park in the Yarra Ranges and Central Highlands.

Logging over many years had previously reduced the Leadbeater’s possum down to a fraction of its original range and now only around one per cent of mountain ash forest is old growth. A new ‘taskforce’ attempts to negotiate the future of the logging industry in the central highlands of Victoria and the possible creation of the new national park, in light of the critical status of Leadbeater’s Possums.

The state government — elected in November — has so far made no official commitment to the proposed 355,000-hectare Great Forest National Park, which would include both recreational areas and conservation zones.

The good news is that the Victorian Government has given its strongest indication yet that it is open to ending clearfelling and closing down the hardwood timber industry in key parts of Victoria’s Central Highlands to prevent the extinction of the Leadbeater’s Possum.

‘The time for further reviews and studies is over. The only thing that will save Leadbeater’s Possums from extinction is to immediately stop the clearfell logging of the forest it lives in,’
Greens Senator Rice said.

Join the Great Forest National Park Volunteer Campaign Team. Text ‘GFNP volunteer’ to 0428 029 437.

Send Your message of Support:

Share This:

Is Melbourne Water removing trees near you? What about the wildlife?

Animals are losing their trees in droves. There is a new tree removing policy for all dams and retarding basins in Victoria, treating small retarding basins as if they were big dams, and treating trees as problems, where previously they were considered desirable. See inside for locations. This policy applies in other states as well. VicRoads is also suddenly removing trees en-masse from roadsides and median strips! None of these policies gives adequate consideration to wildlife habitat or cruelty impacts. There is no overall coordinating policy for Australia to ensure the preservation of wildlife and wildlife corridors at local, state and national levels, nor to avoid heat-island creation and local climate change, or citizen despair. With constant clearing for new suburbs and roads all over habitable Australia, tree removal by governments and contractors is reaching the level of a national civil emergency.

Trees and Retarding Basins

The reason for this change of policy around retarding basins is that we have become so overpopulated, due to wilful government policy, that flooding has become a problem.

“When a natural catchment is progressively urbanised, the stormwater runoff characteristics of that catchment change accordingly.The runoff response becomes quicker and larger as the introduction of urban features (eg paved streets, tiled roofs, concrete driveways) reduces the capacity of the catchment to store and retard stormwater flow.” (Norman Himsley, “A guiding hand for flood retarding basins,” ANCOLD.)

Trees are blamed, when previously they were planted to keep the water table low, stabilise landforms, and suck up floodwater. If there has been a scientific review of the literature regarding the pros and cons of trees on dams, it has escaped me. For this reason, I am very leery of the new policy. ANCOLD is the source of the new guidelines, but you have to pay over $100 to access them, since Melbourne Water is using a private publication.

Victoria’s population growth

Victoria’s population growth – at around 2.4% is one of the fastest in the world, with a doubling time of under 30 years. Australia’s growth at 1.6% is the fastest of OECD countries. No wonder Victoria is now using the ANCOLD rules for *large dams* in order to manage small local retarding basins. These basins were adequate when they were made, before Jeff Kennett, Steve Bracks, and their successors, decided to rapidly grow Victoria’s population. (See and In Victoria, where Melbourne Water manages about 224 retarding basins, there has been a sudden onslaught of mass tree removal with very limited ‘community consultation’ and absolutely no viable plans for affected wildlife. In this article I have named some affected retarding basins. If you put them together you can see how this de-treeing policy will impact all Melbourne’s green wedges and wildlife corridors. How can anyone pretend that we can preserve Victoria’s wildlife and our pleasant green spaces if this population tsunami is allowed to go ahead?

Banyan Reserve retarding basin, Carrum Downs.
Removal of trees. Late January schedule.

Campbellfield retarding basin, Sages Road, Glenroy, 80 trees to go

Fairbairn Road retarding basin, Duff Street, (within the J and P Cam Reserve) at Cranbourne, tree removal

Glen Valley Retarding Basin located on Glen Valley Road in Forest Hill

Lernes Street Retarding Basin located on Hylton Crescent in Forest Hill

Glen Valley retarding basin – no info here.

Jack Roper Reserve (CSL) retarding basin in Glenroy. Tree Removal.

Masons Road retarding basin, Masons Road Reserve, Blackburn No information here. Just takes you to a Melbourne water search engine.

Navan Park retarding basin, Navan Park, off Centenary Avenue, Melton West No mention of removal of trees.

Roxburg Park retarding basin: Retarding basins at Shankland Gully (also known at St Clair Reservoir), Shankland Gully 2C, Lake Mcivor and Tiffany Crescent. Work includes removal of trees.

Ryans Road retarding basin, Diamond Creek. Removal of trees.

A community bulletin was issued in November 2017.

Retarding basin located in Taylors Lakes, Chichester Drive, neighbouring to both Lake Shelduck and Lake Heron. Removal of Trees:

“trees must be removed from the whole length of the embankment.”

Troups Creek West Wetland and Hallam Bypass retarding basin on Drysdale Avenue in Narre Warren North. Tree removal.

“Vegetation removal from the wetland; this will be replaced with plants that will improve the natural treatment of stormwater”

Yarraman Creek retarding basin, Elonera Road, Noble Park North. Removal of trees.

Undated community bulletin indicating works would have started on Monday 22 January 3pm – 4pm.

Christmas Hills land-sale. Melbourne water selling off public land previously earmarked for the Watsons Creek Storage Reservoir, which it says it no longer needs. There was some ‘community consultation’, but this land is going to be turned into a suburb.

RECENT PAST WORKSThompsons Road retarding basin, Lawson Poole Reserve in Cranbourne. Trees were removed.

Trees have been removed. There is a community information bulletin here: The following link leads nowhere useful:

Several more if you do a search for Melbourne Water and retarding basins.

Share This:

1 2