Destroying our native Victorian heritage

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By Brett Douglas

Logging of native forests in Victoria continues at an alarming rate, with nearly 5,500 hectares being chopped down every year. That’s equal to an area eight times the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground being logged every single day! I was astounded to learn that fact and also that Victoria now tops the list of states in Australia when it comes to logging native forests.

The destruction taking place here in Victoria is even greater than that happening in Tasmania, where many of that state’s biggest trees have already been felled (some were around 1000 years old). When you consider that the majority of native trees logged in Victoria are turned into wood chips to make paper it seems like such a waste. Australian paper brand Reflex is the largest domestic purchaser of pulp logs from Victoria’s native forests.

The situation in Victoria is perhaps best symbolised by the fact that two of our state’s emblems are already critically endangered and are seriously threatened by logging which destroys their natural habitat. These two species, Leadbeater’s possum and the Helmeted Honeyeater (a bird), are both on the brink of extinction. There are thought to be around just 130 Helmeted Honeyeaters left in the world, and only 20 breeding pairs in the wild.

Leadbetter’s possum was thought to be extinct by the 1930s but was rediscovered in 1961. After several decades of population growth the species is now in decline and took a further blow in 2009 when almost half of its population was killed during the Black Saturday bushfires.

Many other native species are also threatened by logging in Victoria, including koalas, frogs, birds and lizards. You may have seen the video that emerged back in February of a female koala and her young baby clinging to a tree as it was felled. It’s believed that the animals survived the fall, but the video highlights just how dangerous logging is for our native species.

The Abbott government recently made changes to the Renewable Energy Target regulations to allow the burning of timber taken from native forests to be used as a ‘renewable energy source’for the purpose of gaining renewable energy certificates. How ironic – there’s nothing renewable about it! The legislation was passed with bipartisan support from Labor and shows that both main political parties need to do more to protect our native wildlife.

The logging industry runs at a loss in Victoria, propped up by government subsidies. The jobs that are created are only short-term, with no long term prospects and they have dire consequences for our native wildlife. It’s easy to see how unsustainable this outdated practice is. A report prepared for the federal Environment Minister found that ending logging in the highland forests, north-east of Melbourne, would save about 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. This could then be converted into revenue under the Abbott government’s new emissions reduction fund, where it’s estimated the state of Victoria could potentially earn up to $30 million annually. It’s definitely time for a change.


What can I do?

1. Sign the Ethical Paper Pledge
Sign the Pledge at and join thousands of other businesses and individuals who have committed to stop purchasing Reflex paper until Australian Paper stops sourcing pulp from Victoria’s native forests.

2. Buy recycled paper. When you must use copy paper, makes sure it’s 100% post-consumer recycled. Visit for a list of products that fit this description. See more at:

Leadbeater’s possum

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