Otway Ranges Environment Network



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The Great Myrtle Wilt cover up

Code of Forest Practices rainforest buffers ignored

Forestry Victoria ignores the revised Code of Forest Practices and applies a buffer of only 40 metres between rainforest and logged areas, when it should be at least 60 metres.

In 1996, the Code of Forest Practice for Timber Production (Code) was revised to include recommendations to protect Nothofagus dominated Cool Temperate Rainforest from myrtle wilt. (See advice from CSIRO ignored)

Prescriptions in the revised Code require the Otway Forest Management Plan to provide a detailed strategy plan to manage rainforest. However if a detailed strategy plan does not exist then a 60 metre rainforest buffer needs to be applied for stands of Nothofagus that make up greater than 20% of the rainforest canopy. (See Code)

However Forestry Victoria interpret the Code to mean that the absence of a Forest Management Plan requires forestry officers to follow Code prescriptions, not the absence of a 'detailed strategy plan'. This admission was made to the Otway Regional Forest Reference Group (See Point 5.)

The 1992 Otway Forest Management Plan (OFMP) does not have a 'detailed strategy plan'. Instead the OFMP refers to the now outdated requirements in the 1989 Code to provide 20 to 40 metre buffers next to Otway rainforest.

As far as Forestry Victoria are concerned, they believe they can ignore the 60 metre provision outlined in the 1996 Code of Forest Practices.

Buffer advice from CSIRO ignored

Critical CSIRO recommendation omitted from the Code of Forest Practices:
CSIRO advice to treat current rainforest buffers as an "interim minimum recommendation" were not included in the revision of the Code of Forest Practices.

Suppression of Myrtle Wilt research. Case Studies:

Forestry Victoria has attempted to suppress critical Myrtle Wilt research, for fear of the impact the research could have on exposing problems with logging.
  1. Department suppression of the Cameron & Turner Myrtle Wilt Report
  2. Cameron & Turner research recommendations deleted by Department

Suppression of myrtle wilt research breaches Otway Forest Management Plan

The suppression of recommendations for further research is a direct breach of Section 8.4.3 of the Otway Forest Management Plan which gives high priority to: "Investigate the extent, rate of spread and floristic impact of Myrtle Wilt."

Instead, DNRE (Forestry Victoria) have done everything possible to make it difficult for the public to get access to myrtle wilt research reports. When draft reports have been publicly released, recommendations for further scientific investigation have been deleted from them.

The Department failure to conduct research leaves the public ill-informed and allows the current logging practices to continue without knowing the implications to rainforest. To further confuse the public, DNRE forestry officers have made numerous confusing and contradictory public statements regarding the findings of scientific research.

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