A Supreme Court ruling hammered the final nail in the coffin of Victoria’s native timber harvesting on Tuesday.
The Victorian native harvest bans will remain in place until the native timber industry is phased out after an appeal by state-owned forestry company VicForests was thrown out on Tuesday.
As reported by AAP, VicForests appealed a Supreme Court decision to halt logging in parts of the state after finding the forestry company failed to survey for protected glider species adequately.
Court of Appeal president Justice Karin Emerton dismissed the appeal alongside Justices Cameron Macaulay and Stephen Kaye and ordered VicForests to pay court costs.
In May, the Victorian state government announced plans to end native timber harvesting by 2024, six years earlier than planned, claiming the sector had become unviable due to ongoing legal action.
VicForests’ last annual report recorded a loss of $54.2 million.
Environment East Gippsland and Kinglake Friends of the Forest, which launched the initial court actions, welcomed the decision and called for more national parks.
“Litigation is an expensive and risky undertaking for small community groups, but our decision to turn to the law has been vindicated,” Environment East Gippsland’s Jill Redwood said in a statement.
“We hope to see public money, for so long wasted on propping up the logging industry, now invested in restoring the forests for our climate and wildlife.”
On Friday, VicForests released an amended timber release plan to support the new transition timeframe, including 184 new logging coupes and 12 coupe boundary changes.
The TRP covered areas where you may conduct operations in state forests, including timber harvesting. These areas are divided into sections of the forest called coupes.
VicForests’ Board has approved the amendments to the TRP per the requirements of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004, and a notice concerning the amended TRP was published in the Victoria Government Gazette S 323 on 23 June 2023.
“All timber harvesting and regeneration operations are subject to Victoria’s strict environmental regulations, including the State’s Forest Management Zoning scheme,” VicForests said in a statement.
“VicForests is committed to complying with or exceeding regulatory controls to ensure the sustainable management of forest areas.”
Wood Central will update the story as more information becomes available.