Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Kinglake Friends of the Forest v VicForests – appeal decision: KFF

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Kinglake Friends of the Forest, Media Release, 27 June 2023

The Supreme Court of Victoria has announced [on Tuesday 27 June 2023] its decision on VicForests appeal1 of last November’s landmark court decision in Kinglake Friends of the Forest and Environment East Gippsland vs VicForests,2 known as “The Glider Case”.

The panel of three judges upheld Justice Richards’ findings that VicForests’ actions were in breach of environment laws.The orders limiting logging in forests that are home to endangered gliders will remain.

“This decision gives endangered forest species a fighting chance of survival. It’s testament to the power of communities to fight for the natural world; for the places we love and the wildlife we share them with”, says Sue McKinnon, President of Kinglake Friends of the Forest.

“The courts have shown that VicForests is incapable of observing environment laws: they must be abolished.”

“For years we have reported illegal logging to the Department of Environment. They have ignored VicForests countless breaches. We are concerned that now loopholes will be found to log critical habitat under other names, and the Department will continue to turn a blind eye”.

After a year-long court case, last November Justice Richards handed down a decision requiring state owned logging agency VicForests to a) thoroughly survey for endangered Greater Gliders and threatened Yellow Bellied Gliders in forest it planned to log, and b) implement certain protections for gliders living in forests scheduled for logging.

Last year the Greater Glider was “uplisted” from threatened to endangered. The species has experienced an 80 per cent decline in population over the last 20 years due to the cumulative effects of bushfires and native forest logging.

Last month the Victorian State government announced that native forest logging will end by the end of this year, 7 years ahead of schedule.

Last year the Victorian Auditor General found that Victoria’s logging regulator was failing to adequately regulate and prevent illegal logging by VicForests.

Concurrent to the appeal, VicForests is defending other allegations of illegal logging in Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH) vs VicForests. The decision on this case is yet to be handed down.

1. VicForests v Environment East Gippsland Inc [2023] VSCA 159
2. Environment East Gippsland Inc v VicForests (No 4) [2022] VSC 668

Related stories: Decision upheld; Gliders win in Victorian Supreme Court: Environment East Gippsland; Glider crisis; Log crisis; Citizen scientists find 60 endangered gliders in forest slated for logging: Kinglake Friends of the Forest; Gliders back in court: Kinglake Friends of the Forest


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