Media release from Goongerah Environment Centre, Wombat Action Group, and Extinction Rebellion, 21 May 2023
Victoria’s anti-protest laws targeting forest protectors were contested through a state-wide survey action for threatened flora and fauna yesterday. Under new laws that came in yesterday, people conducting surveys within a safety harvest zone may receive fines up to $11,095.20, which they could receive in the mail anytime within the next 12 months. All surveys were conducted in areas where a “Timber Harvesting Safety Zone” (public exclusion zone) is either already in place or where one could be applied any day.
The new laws also increase the maximum penalty to $22 120 or 1 year gaol term if found with a prohibited device within a THSZ. Flora and fauna surveys took place at five sites across Victoria: in Wombat State Forest, Toolangi, Alberton West, Powelltown, and Colquhoun forest in East Gippsland. Surveyors found endangered Greater Gliders, koalas, endangered Tree Geebungs (an old growth understory plant) and a critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum. Over 130 plant and fungi observations were recorded on the iNaturalist app.
All of today’s surveys were conducted in areas where a “Timber Harvesting Safety Zone” is either already in place or where one could be applied any day. Police were present at the protest in Wombat but did not issue on-the-spot fines. Four Greens MPs were among those who illegally entered a THSZ in Wombat State Forest to survey for plant species.
Amy Calton from Wombat Action Group states: “Protest must be protected, especially within a climate crisis. The government must repeal these outrageous laws and take meaningful action to protect the environment.”
Tuffy Morwitzer, from the Goongerah Environment Centre states: “We must end logging immediately and invest in conservation efforts to build back everything the industry has destroyed - exactly the kind of work citizen scientists were doing today by surveying.”
Felicity Law from Extinction Rebellion states: “At this critical time as we face climate catastrophe and as forest species plummet towards extinction we need forests protected.”
Tuffy Morwitzer - [email protected] - 0493 524 913
Campaigner for the Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO)
GECO ran the longest forest blockade in Australian history (Goolengook), and has run citizen science camps for the last 8 years.
Amy Calton - [email protected] - 0491 814 052
Facilitator of the Wombat Action Group (WAG)
WAG is a grassroots advocacy group campaigning to protect Wombat State Forest by engaging, educating and empowering the community to take direct action for forests.
Felicity Law - 0423 109 765
Spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion