Victorian forests Major Event Review

Victorian forests Major Event Review

Logging in Victoria’s bushfire affected forests to be reviewed

A Major Event Review announced into the logging of forests and wildlife affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.

Photo: Ben Baker

Victorian forests and wildlife were heavily affected by the 2019-20 Bushfires. Image: Ben Baker

Major Event Review (MER) announced

On 2 December 2020, Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Minister for the Environment and Jonathon Duniam Commonwealth Assistant Minister for Forestry announced a Major Event Review (MER) into logging of forests and wildlife affected by the 2019–20 bushfires—following agreement between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to conduct a review. 

The review will be undertaken for all five of Victoria’s Regional Forest Agreement regions (East Gippsland, Gippsland, North East, Central Highlands and West Victoria).  

This review is announced in a context where the State Government has recommenced logging in East Gippsland’s forests.

What it means for Victoria’s forests

While details of the review are yet to be announced, a MER is an important step to ensuring Commonwealth and Victorian governments are held to account in their responsibility and obligation to consider the impact of logging and care for Australia’s threatened species.

Ferns starting to grow back In East Gippsland forest following fire devastation (March, 2020). Image: Ben Baker

The 2019–20 bushfires mean that reform of the logging industry is more urgent than ever before.

A MER is an important step in recognising logging impacts are far greater in vulnerable bushfire affected forests, and the need for change. The 2019–20 fires impacted vast areas of forest and more than a billion animals perished—now more than ever before, logging cannot continue as previously.

In November 2019, the Victorian government announced an end to native forest logging by 2030. However, that announcement was made before last summer’s bushfires, and there is an urgent need for that timeline to be brought forward.

As the review is developed and implemented, the Wilderness Society will be pushing these elements:

  1. Independent panel overseeing MER. The independent panel must be given a mandate to truly reform logging in the context of the impacts of the 2019–20 bushfires, and must include experts in forest ecology and heritage, that are independent of government and the logging industry.
  2. Logging in green unburnt forests, in areas that were fire-affected, and other important forest areas must not proceed while the MER is underway.
  3. Actions to protect threatened species habitats must be clearly identified.
  4. Urgent action to reduce logging volumes, and remove logging from threatened species habitats identified.
  5. Actions to bring forward the 2030 exit from native forest logging, in the context of the impacts of the 2019–20 bushfires. 
  6. Comprehensive engagement with Traditional Owners.

The review is expected to take six months to complete.