great forest national park 10 September 2016

The Great Forest National Park is one step closer

Thanks for speaking out about how much you love forests!

A few months ago, thousands of people in ACF community emailed the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews asking him to create the Great Forest National Park. Thanks so much for speaking out!

He listened. He has just publicly announced he will support the Forest Industry Taskforce process to continue.

For more than six months I’ve been locked in negotiations over the future of Victoria’s forests with fellow conservationists and people from the union and logging industries.

The process hasn’t been easy. More than once we nearly walked out. But we’ve just managed to land a historic ‘Statement of Intent.’ 

Everyone in the taskforce has agreed on the need to create new national parks and reserves, to protect wildlife like the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum. We've agreed that the forestry industry needs a secure wood and fibre supply from a mix of sources and if people’s jobs change they will receive help to make sure it is an orderly and just transition. This is huge.

Political breakthroughs like this are usually thrashed out in Parliament or around the Cabinet table. What makes the Taskforce so unique is that the people most affected by the issue are actually sitting together around the table, collectively solving our shared problem.

We tried this approach to protect Tassie's forests and it worked – until it was derailed by political self-interest. We all learnt invaluable lessons. We’re trying again in Victoria and it seems to be working.

But we are only half way. The scope and scale of new parks, the future mix of wood and fibre supply and the timelines for change are still up in the air.

And standing in our way is the fact that logging companies are still clear-felling the tall wet forests that cloak Victoria’s stretch of the Great Dividing Range – largely to make Reflex office paper, when plantation and recycled fibre are a perfect alternative. Until we secure further forest protection, flashpoints such as continued logging could easily derail our progress to date.

Which is why public pressure from people like you is so important. Agreement inside the tent is simply not enough. The Premier also needs to know how much everyone wants their forests protected – now.

Will you send a new message to Premier Daniel Andrews, thanking him for his support for the Taskforce and calling for immediate forest protection while the negotiations continue? 

The announcement by the Premier to continue the talks show how real and promising this opportunity is. But the logging must stop. So please raise your voice to the chorus for change!

In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.

Jess Abrahams

Nature lover. Mountain biker. Healthy Ecosystems Campaigner at ACF. Find me in the forest.