Media Releases - 14 March 2024

End to calamitous VicForests finally confirmed

Logged mountain ash in Toolangi, Victoria. Image: Justin Cally

State owned logging corporation, VicForests, will come to an end on 30 June 2024, after twenty years of failed forest management that saw the collapse of the Mountain Ash ecosystem being formally recognised, and the uplisting of forest-dependent wildlife to Critically Endangered status.

The wind up of VicForests, revealed yesterday in the Supreme Court of Victoria by lawyers for the corporation during a hearing, is a welcome and necessary step forward for the protection and restoration of Victoria’s globally-significant native forests.

The Victorian government must now focus its efforts on creating the Great Forest National Park and other protected areas, to preserve Victoria’s iconic native forests for future generations. The government must also deliver on conservation economy proposals like the Emerald Link, so that all Victorians have the chance to enjoy these magnificent natural wonders.

The Wilderness Society Victoria says the aspirations of First Peoples to heal and care for Country, community participation in environmental decision-making, and transparent, science based decision-making must be prioritised in the path forward for the 1.8million hectares of forests so badly degraded by VicForests.

VicForests has been subject of successive illegal logging rulings from the courts, and has long been the target of concerns about poor organisational performance and culture. After over-seeing the unwarranted destruction of tens of thousands of hectares of globally-significant forests, the Allan government needs to exercise extreme caution and ensure the cultural, financial and legal issues that have dogged VicForests are not transferred over to the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) or Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV).

Matthew Landolfo, Campaigns Manager for Wilderness Society Victoria, said, “The end of VicForests is a welcome and necessary step towards the protection of Victoria’s globally-significant native forests. But, the restoration task left in VicForests’ wake is huge.

“To truly protect Victoria’s iconic native forests for the benefit of the whole community, the government needs to restore public trust in land management policy, by ensuring the cultural, financial and legal issues that plagued VicForests do not simply find a new home with DECCA or FFMV.

“What we need is a new approach, focused on extensive restoration and land management, led by First Peoples, which stands to generate thousands of sustainable new jobs across regional Victoria.”

In October last year, over sixty organisations including the Wilderness Society joined together to call for the failed experiment of VicForests to finally be put to an end. The joint letter laid bare the sordid history of VicForests, which will be looked back on as one of the greatest failures of environmental governance in this country’s history.