One of the world's great old growth forests...
Spot‑tailed (Tiger) Quoll photograph by Jeni McMillan
. . . threatened by logging
This video comes with a violence and language warning.
In the heart of East Gippsland, north east of Orbost lies Goolengook, one of the oldest and most spectacular forests to be found anywhere on earth.
The ancient Eucalypt, the largest flowering plants on earth, still survive here along with many unique and threatened animals.
Amazingly, this area is not protected, and is threatened by an intense logging and woodchipping regime which will destroy Goolengook forever.
Goolengook has become a forest icon through intense media attention during
Regional, State and National Environment groups have campaigned for years to have the breathtaking forests of Goolengook protected as an addition to the adjacent Errinundra National Park.
A current study into Victoria's timber supply has shown that East Gippslands forest and especially the good quality forest has been seriously overcut. Some in the logging industry are now claiming that forest conservation reserves, for example Special Protection Zones in Goolengook Forest, should be opened up for logging.
Read on to see what all the fuss is about.
East Gippsland's forests
East Gippsland's forests form a unique biodiverse ecosystem which has evolved since Australia separated from the ancient super‑continent Gondwana some 50 million years ago.
Over 300 rare and threatened plant and animal species are found within the region's one million hectares of forest. The old growth forests are the preferred habitat for animals such as the Spot‑tailed Quoll, Powerful Owl, Sooty Owl and the Long Footed Potoroo.
The region contains the largest contiguous areas of old growth and undisturbed forest in Victoria and is of national and international significance.
In 1987, the Victorian Government first officially proposed East Gippsland for World Heritage Listing. At the time, the proposal was not supported by the Commonwealth Government, but several studies since have confirmed the region has World Heritage values.
The East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement (RFA)
East Gippsland was the first region in Australia to have an RFA signed. This was an attempt by Federal and State governments to end the debate over the logging of native forests and to deliver jobs and job security to East Gippsland's logging industry.
Neither of these objectives has been achieved. Over the past six years, jobs in the logging industry have fallen by 60%, yet since the East Gippsland RFA was signed in 1997, woodchipping has doubled.
The old growth wet forests of Goolengook were one of the first areas subject to logging following the signing of the East Gippsland RFA. This was met with a high profile and long-running forest rescue protest. The East Gippsland RFA has been publicly denounced by all environment groups involved in the process. The East Gippsland REA has only succeeded in escalating forest conflict in the region.
The Forests of Goolengook
Goolengook encapsulates everything that is special about East Gippsland.
It contains an unrivaled assemblage of flora and fauna that includes a multitude of rare, vulnerable, threatened and endangered species and plant communities. Logging will destroy these flora species and degrade habitat for animals.
Goolengook has nine plants, animals or communities listed as threatened under the Victorian Government's Flora and fauna Guarantee Act (1988) and another nine plants listed as rare or vulnerable.
The Slender Tree‑fern is nationally rare and close to extinction in Victoria. The Long‑footed Potoroo, only discovered in 1980, and one of Australia's rarest mammals, will suffer from increased mortality from habitat destruction. The Spot‑tailed Quoll, the largest marsupial carnivore on the mainland, and related to the Tasmanian Tiger, is threatened with extinction and will suffer from loss of habitat and increased competition.
Goolengook is also a stronghold for the threatened Powerful and Sooty owls.
Breaking the Chain of Destruction
In the last 5 years approximately 30,000ha of East Gippsland's forests have been logged out.
For almost a decade up to I million tonnes of East Gippsland's forests have been made available for woodchipping each year for as little as 9 cents a tonne. That is less than one dollar for a big eucalypt tree, some of which are hundreds of years old.
Only 5% of Australia's original old growth forests remain while the national criterion for old growth reserves is 15%.
If logging goes ahead in Goolengook over I,000ha of outstanding old growth forests will be clearfelled, rainforest will be bulldozed and a number of threatened species will lose irreplaceable habitat.
Nesting and roosting trees for species which can only live in old growth forest will be destroyed.
Ancient forests are being clearfelled and turned into mono‑culture tree farms, destroying the biodiversity that has taken millions of years to evolve. This further heightens the significance of Goolengook, as it provides a rare opportunity to protect a number of species in one catchment.
This is Victoria's Noah's Ark but unfortunately the logging industry may see felling these forests as the solution to their problems.
A Goolengook National Park
Given Goolengook's biological importance and unrivaled array of natural values, we have a responsibility to pass it on intact to future generations. The to proposal to extend the Errinundra National Park to include Goolengook is the‑best way to guarantee the protection of these remarkable old growth forests and the wide array of rare and threatened animals and plants which live there.
Environmental organisations are campaigning to have Goolengook added to the adjacent Errinundra National Park. The Goolengook National Park proposal seeks to protect old‑growth forests, endangered species habitat and a variety of rare rainforest communities.
The proposal is based on scientific recommendations made by government scientists who studied Goolengook's forests and the flora and fauna it supports. Scientists describe Goolengookas one of the, most significant forests in south-eastern Australia.
This is the most reasonable expectation of scientists and environment groups, protecting a tiny area of the best of East Gippsland's forests. The proposal aims to include a further 5000 hectares within the Errinundra National Park. Half of what is proposed for National Park status is already part of the National Park reserve system, or not available for logging. The other half accounts for less than 0.3% of the East Gippsland Forest Management Area.
Lion of the forest: East Gippsland is a stronghold for the threatened Powerful Owl.
Who Wants to Log Goolengook?
East Gippsland Logging (EGL)
Since 1998, EGL has been the logging syndicate which undertakes logging operations in East Gippsland, under contract from the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE).
Daishowa Paper Manufacturing
Daishowa is the driving force behind forest destruction in East Gippsland, and would be the major recipient of woodchips from the area.
Daishowa established Australia’s first export woodchip mill in 1967, commencing operations in 1971, exporting woodchips from East Gippsland and the New South Wales south coast.
Daishowa exports up to 800,000m3 of pulp logs annually to Japan, from their export facility at Eden on the New South Wales south coast.
In early 2001, Daishowa merged with Nippon Paper Industries to form Nippon Unipac, now Japan's largest company and the seventh largest corporate entity in the world.
Midway Forest Products Midway is one of four woodchip mills based in Geelong. Midway have a statewide licence to extract and export 3 10,000 tonnes of woodchips from native forests each year. The woodchips are sent to Japan to be manufactured into paper and packaging products.
Until the recent slump in the export market a woodchip train carried logs from Bairnsdale in Gippsland to Midways.
The Goolengook Forest Rescue
Australia's Longest Ever Blockade
In early 1997 Australia's longest running forest blockade was established Goolengook, and is still there to this day.
For a brief period commencing on the eve of World Environment Day, June 4,1997, the chainsaws and bulldozers moved, in to destroy the forest. Only 100 hectares were destroyed before environmentalists regained the upper hand and re‑established the forest rescue blockade.
Logging has been stopped ever since. For nearly 5 years there has been an almost constant protest camp. Over 300 people have been arrested, including Australian Greens ‑Senator Bob Brown and mountaineer Brigitte Muir, the first Australian woman to climb Mount Everest.
To date, the Bracks government has rejected calls for the protection of Goolengook and the National Park proposal, and has sanctioned the logging of these forests in the near future.
Upon their election in February 2001, the Gallop, and Beattie Labor Governments in Western Australia and Queensland moved to protect ' their old growth and high conservation value forests ‑ why won't the Bracks government in Victoria?
It's time to turn up the heat. Over the next couple of years, you will witness, either the protection or destruction of what remains of Victoria's old growth forests.
These forests belong to all of us, not to any government, nor are they simply a resource to be plundered. Please stand up for their protection.
What You Can Do...
1. Write to: The Honorable Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria, 1 Treasury Place Melbourne, 3000.
2. Book a Goolengook Slide Show for your community group. Call: Andrew Picone on 9428 7872.
3. Join the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria's Fauna Survey of the Goolengook Block. 26 December‑3 January. Call: 9877 9860.
4. Join the Goolengook Forest Rescue Blockade. Call: Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) an (03) 5154 0156.
5. Join one of the organisations below or make a tax‑deductible donation:
Payable to: The East Gippstand Forest Fund (EGFF). Mail to: CROEG, Private Bag 3, Orbost 3888.
6. Use the media ‑ write letters to The Age or your local paper calling for Goolengook to be added to the Errinundra National Park or contact a radio station and do the same.
Fax The Age on (03) 9601 2414 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to Letters Editor, 250 Spencer Street, Melbourne 3001.
Call talkback radio 3AW an (03) 9696 1278 or 3L0 on (03) 9414 1774
For Further information Contact:
Goongerah Environment Centre Office Ph (03) 5154 0156
Friends of the Earth Ph (03) 9419 8700
Concerned Residents of East Gippsland: Ph (03) 5154 0145
The Wilderness Society Ph (03) 9639 5455
Environment Victoria Ph (03) 9348 9044
Field Naturalists Club of Victoria Ph (03) 9877 9860