Call to end logging in Victorian Forests by Indigenous nations #Voteforests

November 22, 2018 at 9:12 pm 2 comments

Sovereign indigenous clans ifrom Taungurong, Wurundjeri and Gunai Kurnai statement on sovereignty, land and forests

Aboriginal clans and families from the Taungurong, Wurundjeri and Gunai Kurnai peoples read a statement on sovereignty, land use and forests which called for a moratorium on the logging of Victorian forests by the Victorian Government. Conservation of Victoria’s native forests raises concerns over presercving our water, a safe climate and preventing species extinction.

The statement was met with a standing ovation from the packed crowd in the Brunswick Town Hall who had come to hear and discuss the Future of Victoria’s Forests in an event organised by Brunswick Friends of the forests.

Our Victorian forests have the tallest flowering plants in the worlds and species that are globally unique and threatened with extinction. They form an important and intrinsic part of the culture of our indigenous people.

The forests are also the source of much of Melbourne’s drinking water, and continued logging is reducing the water that the catchment areas can supply to Melbourne. This is occurring as climate change is causing weather systems to move further south, resulting in less rains.

Forests are important as carbon sinks, for the ecosystems and habitats that they provide especially to endangered species such as Victoria’s faunal emblem, Leadbeater’s possum, as well as ensuring quality water to the population of Melbourne.

Sovereignty, land use and spiritual connection

Victorian forests are also important in the sovereignty, land use and spiritual connection of our first nation peoples. Victoria is moving ahead with treaty negotiations with our indigenous nations and the fate of our native forests are an essential part of addressing this.

Sovereign indigenous clans in Victoria consisting of the Taungurong, Wurundjeri and Gunai Kurnai peoples met on 14 and 15 September 2018 to discuss land and forests and formulated a statement on forests that calls for an immediate moratorium on logging and destruction of Victorian forests. This statement was read out at a forum on the future of Victoria’s Forests held by Brunswick Friends of Forests at Brunswick Town Hall on 21st November 2018.

Read more on an election scorecard on indigenous sovereignty and issues that affect indigenous Victorians prepared by ANTAR Victoria.

Scientific research unequivocal on need to preserve forests

If indigenous sovereignty isn’t enough, the scientific research of Professor David Lindenmayer from a western scientific point of view is unequivocal that continued logging does not make environmental, social or economic sense, and cannot be justified using conventional economic accounting, let alone triple bottom line accounting.

Prof David Lindenmayer

A 2009 study by Lindenmayer and colleagues identified that Australian Eucalyptus regnans Forests in central Victoria have the World’s Highest Biomass Carbon Density. Just in terms of their carbon sink capacity they should be preserved and not heavily logged. Read the full study: Re-evaluation of forest biomass carbon stocks and lessons from the world’s most carbon-dense forests

His most recent research just published shows that continued logging in the Thomson dam catchment, which supplies 60 percent of Melbourne clean drinking water, would result in the reduction of water for 600,000 people by 2030. This at a time when climate change is affecting rainfall southern Australian patterns moving them further south with a long term projected decline in rainfall.

The abstract of the study: Resource Conflict Across Melbourne’s Largest Domestic Water Supply Catchment, says:

Based on an estimated consumption of 161 litres of water per person per day, the loss in water yield resulting from logging would equate to the lost water for nearly 600,000 people by 2050.
Given the strategic importance of water from the Thomson Catchment, our analyses suggest that native forest logging should be excluded from this catchment, particularly in the context of increasing human consumption of water and decreasing stream inflows from the catchments. Previous work has shown that the economic value of the water across all of Melbourne’s Water Catchments, including the Thomson Catchment, is 25.5 times greater than the economic value of the timber produced from the all native forests, based on integrated economic and environmental accounting (e.g. under the System of Environmental and Economic Accounting [SEEA] developed by the United Nations). It is not the difference in value between water and timber that is important, it is the change due to the use of an ecosystem service, resulting in the reduction of water yield. Therefore, we suggest that ongoing logging of the Thomson Catchment, when it is known to reduce water yields, is a questionable natural resource management policy.

Read the article by David Lindenmayer and Chris Taylor at the Conversation: Logging must stop in Melbourne’s biggest water supply catchment

Continued Victorian Government support of VicForest logging is also at variance with public opinion. In Victoria 64 per cent found logging for wood production unacceptable, and another 11 per cent were undecided. Notably, the regional opinion was only slightly smaller than the urban opposition to logging, according to The Sydney Morning Herald Article.

The study found harvesting native forests was viewed as unacceptable by 65 per cent of regional and rural residents – including in areas with timber industries – not far shy of the 70 per cent disapproval by urban respondents.

For instance, 62 per cent of residents in Victoria’s Central Highlands and Gippsland regions viewed logging of native forests for wood production as unacceptable and just one in five supported it.

Public opinion strongly against logging native forests

Candidates quized

Towards the end of the forum the three Brunswick candidates had a brief opportunity for presenting their party policies on forests and logging.

Christopher Anderson (Save the Planet), Cindy O’Connor (Labor), Tim Read (Greens)

The ALP candidate Cindy O’Connor was given a difficult time in the question time that followed. She promised as much as she could in terms of advocacy in caucus for forest protection if she was elected. Unfortunately Labor has had 4 years to devise a solution and phaseout of logging and hasn’t done so. Many of the people at this forum will clearly not be giving Labor their first vote based upon the lack of action on forest conservation.

Some of the social media from the evening:


  • Heather Keith, Brendan G. Mackey, and David B. Lindenmayer, Re-evaluation of forest biomass carbon stocks and lessons from the world’s most carbon-dense forests, PNAS July 14, 2009 106 (28) 11635-11640;
  • Taylor C, Blair D, Keith H, and Lindenmayer DB. (2018) Resource Conflict Across Melbourne’s Largest Domestic Water Supply Catchment. Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra,

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