VICTORIA'S timber industry has been given a glimmer of hope in the latest report into the Leadbeater’s Possum protection measures but the Andrews Labor Government now needs to step up, says Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh.
The review of the effectiveness and impact of timber harvesting exclusion zones around Leadbeater's Possum colonies has finally been released after months of delay.
The review confirmed:
· More possums have been detected than expected.
· More than 90 per cent of the possum’s potential, or most likely occupied, habitat in the Central Highlands has never been surveyed.
· There is only limited data on the number of Leadbeater’s Possum colonies and habitat in Victoria’s National Parks and reserves.
· Further field studies across all land tenures are urgently required.
· VicForests has suffered $14 million in lost revenue as a result of the zones, and timber availability has been forecast to reduce by 65,000 cubic metres.
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
“If the timber industry is going to survive, the Andrews Government must rapidly change its policy direction and accept that the Leadbeater’s Possum and a viable forestry sector can co-exist.
“Daniel Andrews must decide if he’s backing a $7 billion industry that support up to 50,000 jobs across Victoria, or if he’s going to sacrifice all of that in order to save a couple of inner city Labor seats with Greens preferences next election.”
Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull
“There are now 618 confirmed Leadbeater’s Possum colonies, a huge increase on numbers two years ago, and that’s just from looking in a relatively small area of general public forest.
“The Andrews Government must urgently get on with recommended comprehensive survey work across all landscapes because this review makes it crystal clear past population estimates were grossly inadequate and have distorted public debate.
“The future of thousands of jobs in Victoria’s forest industry are in the hands of Daniel Andrews. Will he action the recommendations of this review, or will he continue his stealth campaign to create the Great Forest National Park in the hope of saving his own skin?”
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