On Saturday, the Victorian people will vote on whether they support continued clearfell logging of Otway native forests for woodchips.
Voters will choose either a Great Otway National Park (Labors policy) or the Liberals policy of continued destruction of biodiverse forest and the effects of logging devastation of our regions water and the undermining of future forest-based tourism.
In the last few weeks the woodchip industry has conducted a large public relations campaign designed to deceive the general public into believing logging in the Otways is for sawlogs (ie. timber). That somehow clearfell logging of three square kilometres of Otways each year is all to supply the Colac sawmills with sawlogs. But what about the 70 out of a hundred trees cut down that are trucked to Geelong to be woodchipped? Or the fact that only six out of a hundred trees are actually value added?
Most of the trucks that blockaded the Great Ocean Road on the weekend, cart logs from the Otways to Geelong to be woodchipped. Relatively few loads of trees go to sawmills in Colac. The 18 or so truck drivers who work half a year receive at least 75% of their income from the woodchip industry.
These facts were exposed during the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) process. The West RFA is what is actually undermining the argument that logging should continue in the Otways. It is information that OREN obtained during the RFA process that has been used to expose the fact logging in the Otways is woodchip driven and unsustainable.
The Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN) took these facts and presented them to local councils across Western Victoria. As a result the Greater Geelong City Council, Surf Coast Shire, Warrnambool City Council and Moyne Shire all endorsed an end to logging in the Otways. Even the Colac Otway Shire is split on the issue with half the council supporting no logging in Otway catchments.
The Liberals make reference to a report released earlier this year by Professor Jerry Vanclay, claiming that this report recommends that current levels of logging in the Otways are correct.
This report does not recommend that. Instead it concluded that the data used to calculate the present rates of logging for the Otways is inadequate.
The community and regional local government believe the optimal rate of logging in the Otways is zero.
Otway Ranges Environment Network
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