'Calco Exit' Media
Conservationists to focus on Midway woodchips
Monday 23 February 2004
Today conservationists have welcomed the buy-back of the Calco Otway sawlog licence as a good first step in ending clearfell logging of native forest in the Otways forever. However conservation groups want all clearfell logging in the Otways to end as soon as possible and not continue until 2008 when woodchip and sawlog licences expire. If clearfell logging continues until 2008, another 10 square kilometres of Otway native forest is destined to be destroyed mainly for woodchips.
"We are happy that the State government has compensated the Calco sawmill and reduced logging. This is a good first step but there is still a long way to go." Said spokesperson for the Otway Ranges Environment Network, Simon Birrell.
"This summer there were only four logging crews when there are usually five. So less Otway forest is being logged as a result of Calco going."
"Conservationist will now focus on Midway woodchip mill and Murnane sawmill. These mills hold the last remaining Otway log licences and will not expire until 2008. Clearfell logging to meet licence commitments until 2008 will result in another 10 square kilometres of Otway native forest being destroyed. This is totally unacceptable."
"The destruction of more Otway forest is due to the Murnane sawmill that has refused offers for compensation which we understand are very generous. Murnane is also a shareholder of the Midway export woodchip mill based in Geelong that woodchips 80% of all the trees cut down in the Otways. To get woodchip logs out, Midway needs Murnane to continue to take sawlogs."
"We are deeply concerned by public comments that Murnane has made stating that he is waiting for the re-election of the Liberal government in the next state election and expect the Liberals to reverse Otway policy back to pro-logging."
"In response, conservationists are soon to launch a consumer awareness campaign that will specifically target the Murnane sawmill through the retail outlets that distribute Murnane products. Conservationists will ensure the entire community is aware of products that are sourced from Otway clearfelled forest and will provide advice on alternative products."
LOGGING in the Otways has been cut by a quarter with one of two remaining saw log licences bought back by the State Government.
The deal with Calco Timbers was a major step in creating a new national park stretching from Anglesea to Apollo Bay, Premier Steve Bracks said in Lorne yesterday for a two-day retreat for government MPs.
Ending logging in the temperate rainforests of the Otways by 2008 was a key government 2002 election promise.
The Government said it would spend $14 million to buy back logging licences and to promote tourism opportunities in the region.
Mr Bracks yesterday said the 20-30 jobs lost with the closure of Calco's operation would be more than compensated through tourism growth.
"A part of our commitment to the Otways region, when we announced our plan for a new national park, was that we would work with local communities to create new economic opportunities," he said.
"There is going to be many, many more jobs created by this new national park than ever there was in the logging of these forests.
"These jobs will be long-term, they will be value adding on tourism and they will also be in park management."
The Calco buy-out is believed to have cost about $3 million.
By Richard Baker
Logging in the Otways has been cut by 25 per cent following the State Government's purchase of one of the last remaining sawlog licences in the area, Premier Steve Bracks said yesterday.
He said the buyback of Calco Timber's licence meant there would be no more logging in native forests visible from the Great Ocean Road.
Mr Bracks said the Government was well on the way to achieving its 2002 election promise to end all logging in Otways native forest by 2008.
"It's a vision we had . . . to provide one of the best and most pristine national parks in Australia," he said.
The Government would not disclose what it cost to buy back the licence, but the sum is believed to be about $2 million.
The Government committed $14 million to buying back sawlog licences when it announced in 2002 that a new national park would be created between Anglesea and Cape Otway.
Environment Minister John Thwaites said 20 to 30 people would lose their jobs because of the buyback.
Mr Thwaites said the Government was negotiating to buy
the final major Otways sawlog licence before it expired in 2008. Under
Government policy, the licence will not be renewed even if it cannot be
He said that if logging was allowed to continue until 2008 under existing licences, another 10 square kilometres of forest would be destroyed. "This is totally unacceptable," he said.
Victorian Association of Forest Industries spokesman Pat Wilson said that while loggers were not particularly happy with the licence buy-out, "it was a State Government policy to phase out timber harvesting in the Otways by 2008 and that's what they're proceeding to do".
"We would have preferred that it be more of a transition to plantation, which is how it was originally announced during the election," he said.
Mr Wilson added: "As an industry, we're obviously not enamoured with (cuts to) timber harvesting.
"The Government's own studies in February the year before indicated that harvesting was well within ecologically sustainable levels . . ."
The Government also announced an extra $500,000 to complete a 92-kilometre walking track along Cape Otway.
It will bring total spending on the track to $2 million and give walkers an uninterrupted route between Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles.
"The funding will also pay for campsites along the route, signs and track improvements," Mr Thwaites said.
The Government believes the increased tourism created by protection of the forests and better walking tracks will provide a greater long-term economic lift to the Otways than logging ever could.
Mr Bracks said the 92-kilometre walk would rank with other renowned trails such as Tasmania's Overland Track and the Milford Track in New Zealand's South Island.
"Currently the longest unbroken stretch takes just two days to walk," Mr Bracks said. "The new links will provide for an uninterrupted, eight-day coastal hike."
The track is due to be completed by 2005.
Tuesday, February 24
CONSERVATIONISTS yesterday welcomed the buy-back of the Calco Timbers Otway sawlog licence.
But greens promised to wage a consumer campaign to get the last logger, Mick Murnane, out of the forest faster.
Otway Ranges Environment Network's Simon Birrell said he was happy the Government had compensated the Calco sawmill and reduced logging.
``This is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go,'' Mr Birrell said.
The Bracks Government has promised to end logging in the Colac-Otways when Mr Murnane's licence expires in 2008, turning the Otway State Forest into a national park.
It is estimated that by the time Mr Murnane's licence expires, another 10 square kilometres of forest will be lost.
He said there were only four logging crews this summer when there were usually five.
Premier Steve Bracks yesterday announced logging in the Otways had been reduced by 25 per cent.
``By negotiating a settlement with Calco we have taken a major step in attaining our vision of a new national park for the Otways,'' Mr Bracks said.
``This is a significant move towards our ultimate goal of no logging in native forests in the Otways by 2008.''
Current Government policy bans Mr Murnane from logging the controversial sites.
The Victorian Government has reduced logging in the Otways by 25 per cent after buying back a key saw-logging licence in the area.
Premier Steve Bracks declined to say how much the state paid for the licence but he remains committed to abolishing logging in the Otways by 2008.
He says the licence buyback is a major step forward toward establishing a new national park in the Otways.
"As part of the 25 per cent reduction in licences which we have bought out, there'll be no logging in parks along the Great Ocean Road precinct itself, that has now been eliminated," he said.
"The rest of the park, the more extensive
part will now be bought out as it moves to 2008."
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