– Brendan Sydes, CEO & Lawyer, EJA

Victoria’s Department of Land Environment Water and Planning has withdrawn proposed changes to the Victorian Code of Practice to Timber Production.

The draft changes, released for public comment two weeks ago, proposed removing content relating to threatened species protection from the current 2014 Code.

Conservation groups sounded the alarm about removing key protections. According to the Victorian National Parks Association, “the proposed Code revision deletes more than 400 specific protection rules that currently apply to conserve Victoria’s threatened fauna, habitats, ecosystems, historic and recreation sites right across the landscape”.

In response to concerns raised by the VNPA, The Wilderness Society, Goongerah Environment Centre and others, the Minister has now advised that the Code changes will be withdrawn.

According to the Department:

  • Through the consultation process the Department has heard and acknowledges the concerns raised about the current draft changes to the Code of Practice for Timber Production (the Code), in particular that some environmental protections could be removed.
  • The draft changes were intended to make the Code stronger, clearer and more enforceable, not reduce or remove current environmental protections.
  • To ensure the community and stakeholders maintain trust in this important work we have decided to withdraw the current consultation on the first stage of the Code review and move to the comprehensive review of the Code, which is planned to commence later this year. This will allow us to demonstrate how existing environmental protections will be maintained within the total package of regulatory reform.

This information and some additional details about the process from here can be found on the Engage Victoria website.

Our lawyers working on forests protection have considerable expertise in the complex web of regulations which attempt to manage the impact of logging on threatened species. In addition to the comprehensive review of the Code mentioned above, there are a number of other reforms under development following the damning review of the regulation of timber harvesting released earlier this year (we’ve written about the review here).

We’ll continue to scrutinise these changes carefully and provide legal support to conservation groups working for better protection for Victoria’s forests.