East Gippsland timber jobs are being sacrificed by an unnecessary Andrews Government zoning change.
The Andrews Government has altered the prescriptions from General Management Zones to Special Management Zones for the Orbost spiny crayfish in East Gippsland timber coupes.
General Management Zones allow for a balanced approach to managing a forest for a range of uses including protection of landscape values, recreation and education opportunities, fire protection, conservation and forestry.
While Special Management Zones severely restrict timber harvesting through the application of greater controls.
The National Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said the Andrews Government passed the zoning change and stopped all timber harvesting, despite soil scientists saying it was unnecessary.
“The Andrews Government decision has effectively wiped out tens of thousands of hectares of productive forest coupes, putting local jobs indefinitely on hold and costing local harvesters significant income.
“Labor has used the zoning change to create buffer zones around temporary streams and drainage lines which has had an enormous impact on timber harvesting operations.
“Any subsequent contingency plans and surveys needed for the zoning change will take months to resolve – leaving local timber workers high and dry.
“The Andrews Government has used the Orbost spiny crayfish to roadblock the East Gippsland timber industry – it must reverse its decision and listen to sound science.”
Ms Bath called on the Minister for Environment in state parliament to remove the unnecessary prescriptions enacted by the zoning change.
“It’s concerning when the Andrews Government continues to ignore specialist advice and cherry pick the science to suit its green agenda.
“The Andrews Government must ensure any future prescription evaluations undergo thorough and rigorous regulatory impact statements to justify changes.”
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull said it’s incredibly concerning the change in zoning has been made without any consultation with industry of VicForests.
“The change will destroy the Timber Release Plan in East Gippsland, effectively halting timber harvesting well into the new year,” said Mr Bull.
“The Andrews Government must stop activists influencing the process and listen to the experts.”
Ms Bath said extensive buffers are already in place for the protection of habitat – there is no genuine scientific reason to change the zoning in the area.
“The move represents another unfair attack on our timber harvesters by Labor’s radical green ideology.
“The Andrews Government must remove these unjustifiable prescriptions and stop putting the legitimate livelihoods of East Gippsland timber workers in jeopardy.”