Otway Ranges Environment Network



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The case against logging of Otway native forest

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Logging in the Otway State Forest (public forest) is managed by Forestry Victoria, part of the State Government - Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Approximately three square kilometres is logged each year.

There are two parts to the logging industry - the woodchip industry, and the sawn timber industry.

Community opposition to logging

The opposition to logging is strong and growing.

An opinion poll was conducted in September 2001 within the federal electorate of Corangamite. The results showed that 69% of people were opposed to clearfell logging in the Otways. Download pdf poll results.

The Great Geelong City Council, Surf Coast Shire, Warrnambool City Council and Moyne Shires are all opposed to native forest logging within Otway water supply catchments.

Clearfell logging

Clearfell logging removes all vegetation. The trees that are not useful for sawn timber are trucked directly to woodchip mills, for export as woodchips. More info

Problems with clearfell logging include:
  • The structure of the forest is lost. More info
  • Fragmentation of forest and loss of habitat causes problems for wildlife - moving, mating, hunting, foraging for food etc. More info
  • If any trees are left standing they are often poisoned. More info
  • After logging the areas are burnt using NAPALM dropped by helicopters. More info

Economics of logging

The Government makes a loss each year from logging in the Otways. The Victorian public is actually paying about $1 million for the destruction of the forests.

Sawn timber

Government revenue from sawn timber makes up only 40% of total revenue. Most of the money the Government receives from logging is from the woodchip industry. More info

The two sawmills that produce sawn timber from the Otways make a loss. (The owners profit from logging because they also have shares in Midways - a big export woodchip mill in Geelong.) More info

Most of the sawn timber from the Otways is low grade - called scantling. This is cannot be used for structural purposes. More info

Only 6% of Otway hardwood is high quality and suitable for use as furniture grade timber (B+). More info

The use of hardwood timber (eg. from native forest) has declined dramatically in the past decade. As opposed to softwood (pine), the use of which has dramatically increased. Many past uses of hardwood have been replaced by softwood.

For years the sawmillers have regularly attempted to justify logging with 'plans' of upgrading their sawmills to 'value add' timber.


Most of forest that is logged ends up as woodchips that are exported to make paper. More info

Without woodchipping, logging in the Otways would be even more unprofitable. This has been recognised by Auditor General reports.

About 70% of trees cut down go directly to the woodchip mills to get woodchipped. More info

When the sawlogs (for sawn timber) are sawn, there are a lot of offcuts which also get chipped for woodchip. In total about 90% of the trees removed from the forest becomes woodchip or sawdust. More info

There is no legislated limit to the amount of woodchips allowed to be taken out of the Otways. Woodchips from the Otways now exceed the limit in the management plan by almost 60%. More info

More than twenty years ago the, then, Forest Commission realised that logging would become unviable without woodchipping. DNRE introduced woodchipping. More info

One of the forest officers, Malcolm MacDougall, who was responsible for introducing woodchipping in the Otways left the NRE to work for Midways, the largest woodchip mill in Geelong.


The Otways is an important water supply catchment, supplying water to 300 000 people, and industries in the region from Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Great Ocean Road, Colac, Warrnambool, and inland towns. More info

Logging in the Otways reduces the amount of water that is available to households and industry in the whole region. Scientific research has shown that if logging stopped in Warrnambool's water catchment, the water runoff would increase by 28% in 60 years. For Geelong the figure is 10%. More info

After a forest is logged, the amount of water runoff in creeks and rivers decreases. This is because more trees regrow than were there before logging. Trees act like a pumps, pumping water from the ground and evaporating it from their leaves (transpiration). More info

Fires in catchments decrease the water yield dramatically. Logging dries out the forest, increasing the chance of fire (see below). More info

The economic value of water lost because of logging, is worth more than twice the value of woodchips and timber from logging. More info

Logging and logging roads also effect the water quality of creeks and rivers. More info

Logging roads increase the risk of landslides which have had a devastating impact on water quality. More info

Government fails in forest management

The Government and logging industry claims that logging is okay because there is a forest management plan and code of forest practices. The Government frequently fails to comply to these; and fails to protect the values of the forest. More info

The legislation that is in place to 'protect' endangered species and stop threatening processes is not followed. There aren't effective controls in place to protect endangered species in the Otways such as the tiger quoll and the slender tree fern. More info

Logging increases fire risk

Logging increases the risk of fire in the Otways, by drying out forest. More info

Fires are often caused directly by logging, particularly the practice of burning areas that have been logged. More info


Tourism in the region is worth $1 billion each year, and employs thousands of people. Logging is subsidised by taxpayers by about $1 million and employs about 60 people, while destroying forest. More info

Logging of forest degrades the beauty of the Otways and destroys scenic forest that has the potential to be used in the booming forest tourism industry. More info

When the Government logs, it ignores its own prescriptions to preserve scenic quality. More info

Despite the Government's own recommendations to develop tourism in the Otways (the Great Ocean Road hinterland), they continue to log the forest. More info


Endangered species and vegetation communities (eg cool temperate rainforest) do not have the protection that is required. The legislation that is meant to protect plants and animals that are endanger is not followed. More info

The Government recognises some forest areas as being important habitat for endangered species (eg. the tiger quoll), but logging is still allowed in these areas. More info

Logging increases 'threatening processes' such as habitat fragmentation, loss of hollow bearing trees, and Myrtle Wilt, a disease which kills rainforest Myrtle Beech trees. More info


The native forest logging industry in the Otways only employs about 60 people.

The loss of water because of logging threatens jobs in industries that rely on water from the Otways, particularly the dairy, and Milk and Food Processing industry.

Logging destroys opportunities for tourism development and associated jobs. More info


Logging in native forest is very dangerous with a death/injury rate many times higher than that of the average. The union which represents native forest loggers often claims that other methods of logging (eg selective logging) are too dangerous to the workers. Logging of plantations is safer than logging of native forest, and creates more jobs because of the maintenance needed for plantations.


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