MP’s logging lockout
Log out for now
Mountain Views & Upper Yarra Mail
By Kath Gannaway
5th February 2008
The Armstrong catchment as photographed last week by the Wilderness Society is one of the areas in which Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato is lobbying her government to put a halt to logging.
GEMBROOK MP Tammy Lobato has weighed in to the growing controversy over logging in Melbourne’s water catchments.
The state Labor MP last week called on the Brumby Government to put a hold on logging areas in the normally restricted and highly regulated water catchments.
Speaking out against the Brumby Government’s policy to grant VicForests contracts in the Armstrong Creek catchment between Warburton and Marysville, Ms Lobato said she believed the logging should cease until a study into the relationship between logging and water being carried out by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) is completed.
“If that study is about the loss of water and its quality, I certainly believe we should wait until it is completed,” said Ms Lobato, who last year spoke out against the State Government’s decision to allow genetically modified crops.
DSE’s director of public land policy, Nina Cullen, confirmed the four-year study was due for completion in September.
She said the fundamental objective of the Wood and Water Project study was to assess options to increase water yield in Melbourne’s water supply catchments while meeting existing timber supply catchments.
Ms Lobato is backing similar calls by the Shire of Yarra Ranges and a number of conservation and environment groups which have called on the government to ban logging in the catchments.
“My main concerns are that this is a water catchment area which supplies the most pristine and high quality water for Melbourne’s drinking supply, and that it is home to some very significant flora and fauna including 100-year-old mountain ash and the endangered Victorian faunal emblem, Leadbeater’s Possum.
“Logging in the water catchment area in a time when Victoria is experiencing the most severe drought in decades causes me great concern, as well as the threat it poses to the habitat of the Leadbeater’s Possum,” Ms Lobato said.
Ms Lobato said she has had calls from constituents who are alarmed at the increased number of logging trucks coming down the Warburton Highway and has spoken with people from within the timber industry who are appalled at the destruction going on in the catchments.
“There are signs up there saying keep out because this is pristine water catchment and I see it as a total contradiction that you have right now 11 bulldozers and workers in there logging it.”
Ms Lobato’s stance has been applauded by The Wilderness Society who also deemed the Shire of Yarra Ranges stand as “a courageous move in the interests of its ratepayers and the Melbourne public”.
“What you really must look at is where the logs are going and the majority of it is going to woodchip and in that case there is no flow-on effect except to share holders of those companies,” said Wilderness Society spokesman Luke Chamberlain.
Mr Chamberlain said the most recent figures from VicForest showed 85 per cent of Victoria’s native forests were going to woodchip waste and sawdust.
He said the society was unable to get figures from the government on how much of that was from the catchment contracts.
“The issue here is that these are the most carbon dense forests and we need to be managing them for carbon and for water and looking at other resources such as plantations for timber.”
Timber Communities Australia (Victoria) coordinator Scott Gentle accused Ms Lobato and the Wilderness Society of being opportunistic and using the drought as a means of killing off the logging industry and pre-empting the outcome of the DSE study.
“The Armstrong catchment is all regenerated forest. There’s no old grown timber harvested there or anywhere else in the Central Highlands,” he said.
“The study is being undertaken at the moment by the government to determine what will happen in these sub-catchments and this whole thing is a beat up to try to pre-empt it.
“We have the State and Federal governments Regional Forest Agreement where scientists have ensured world’s best practices are used by the industry. The Shire of Yarra Ranges’ forest policy also states logging is a permissible activity.
Asked if it would have been a wiser decision by the government to hold off of the Armstrong allocations until the DSE report was out, Mr Gentle said the logging industry had already been forced to make major concessions to pressure from environment groups.
“The State ALP reduced the allocations by 30 per cent and the lines have been drawn and we are sustainable,” he said.
“Every time we give a bit they want more. Every opportunity they can grab to try to close the industry down, they will use it.”
Meanwhile, Ms Lobato said she had made representations before Christmas asking that the logging stop, and said she had now written formal letters to Premier John Brumby, Treasurer John Lenders and Environment Minister Gavin Jennings.
MP’s logging lockout
Leader-Lilydale and Yarra Valley,
Page 1 (Mon 18 Feb 2008)
Author: Bryan Allchin
PRO-logging protesters held Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato’s car to ransom last
Tuesday over comments she made in support of a logging ban in water
Sixteen women, whose livelihoods depend on the industry, chained themselves
around Ms Lobato’s car in Yarra Junction.
Timber Communities Australia, which organised the protest, said the women
were angry at Ms Lobato’s calls for logging in Upper Yarra water catchments
to be suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry.
“It is hard to believe that an ALP member can come out against their own
party’s policy and against an industry she has claimed to support since
gaining power in 2002,” the group’s national convener, Healesville’s
Kersten Gentle, said.
Ms Lobato has called on the State Government to stop logging in water
catchment areas in the Upper Yarra until the Wood and Water Study being
conducted by the Department of Sustainability and Environment is completed.
Ms Lobato said she had offered to meet with the protesters about her
concerns for logging in the Armstrong Creek catchment but had been rebuffed
“I have made it clear publicly that my concerns relate to the logging
within this particular water catchment and not the logging industry in
general,” Ms Lobato said.
The protest delayed Ms Lobato from meeting with constituents in Warburton,
and she is now reconsidering her approach to community liaison.
“When my constituents who want to meet with me in their own townships are
subjected to verbal abuse, I obviously need to consider whether my
commitment to being accessible by conducting mobile offices is posing
unacceptable risks,” Ms Lobato said.
The protesters unchained themselves when the police arrived.
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