Peter Murphy - Preston Environment Group - July 2011
actions and decisions on behalf of the Department of Environment
and Conservation (DEC), brings into question their ability to uphold
those responsibilities and obligations required of them under their
own Enforcement and Prosecution Policy 2008 and Conservation and
Land Management Act 1984; especially when it comes to protecting
one of the worlds few Biodiversity Hotspots in
the South West of Western Australia: the native forest.
back to 2001, when the then State Labor Government - under the leadership
of Dr Geoff Gallop and advised by the Environment Minister, Dr Judy
Edwards - took an axe to the then Conservation and Land Management
(CALM) and proceeded to chop-out the rot which had tainted the department
as an instrument of the corporate logging fraternity. At last! Cried
the people, CALM had been exposed and the public would finally see
an end to the conflict of interest and lack of transparency that
had plagued the department for nearly two decades. CALM could now
genuinely concentrate on the job the public expected of them: to
conserve and protect Western Australias natural heritage.
restructuring of CALM followed, with a number of staff opting to
remain in conservation, while others moved to the newly formed Forest
Products Commission (FPC); whose primary role was to log the native
forest and on-sell the logs to the nearest bidder. It was also decided
that a name- change for CALM was (for obvious reasons) warranted;
hence the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) was born.
Unfortunately what Gallop and Edwards didnt anticipate; was
that within the restructuring process - what also had to be disassembled,
was an entrenched colonial culture of `search and destroy
that had evolved over decades. In other words: how was Gallop and
Edwards to possibly know which ex-CALM managers/staff were the genuine
conservators, and which ones couldnt see the forest for the
cultural conundrum raised its ugly head during an FPC logging operation
at Yabberup forest (near Donnybrook) in 2009, when the FPC (during
logging operations) - broke every logging guideline and practice
cited in their own Silvicultural Guidelines Manual - all under the
supervision of DEC. A DEC inquiry followed, with the FPC cleared
of any wrong-doing and issued (from DEC) with nothing more than
a Cautionary Note.
was followed by controversy surrounding a DEC mammal trapping survey
carried out in Arcadia forest (30-kms east of Bunbury) during 2005/06,
which revealed a small colony of rare mainland quokka still hanging
on. However, when the bankrupt FPC proposed to log Arcadia in 2011;
conservationists cried foul - citing DECs own survey proving
that Arcadia was indeed home to a small colony of rare mainland
quokka and therefore couldnt possibly be logged. However,
to conservationists disgust, the DEC mammal survey disappeared
off the radar. This dodgy action also brought into question DECs
Quokka Recovery Plan (2010 - 2019), which (as I write) still sits
on DEC CEO Kieran MacNamaras desk - gathering dust. Why hasnt
such an important recovery plan costing the WA taxpayer thousands
of dollars; still not been implemented?
there was DECs experimental fire (lit during a
total fire-ban during April 2011) at Benger Nature Reserve near
Harvey, which (predictably) escaped and incinerated hundreds of
native animals (some on DECs own threatened species list).
DEC has promised an inquiry into the fire, but as usual; it will
be DEC investigating DEC (see Benger fire video on www.globalwarmingfg.com).
serious breaches, which contravene several State and Commonwealth
Acts, are only the tip of the iceberg and there are far too many
other examples to document in this article.
may refer to me as a DEC cynic, however a recent DEC logging and
burning workshop in the *Wellington Discovery Forest, brought home
the reality that the rot that Gallop and Edwards had tried to extricate
within the department is still active. Advertised as a Sustainable
Forestry workshop and with the fine print spruiking: how
logging and burning the native forest can enhance forest biodiversity
values. But isnt it the FPCs role to log the forest,
while its DECs responsibility to protect its biodiversity
public will soon be presented with a draft Forest (Logging) Management
Plan for the period 2013 to 2024. However, DEC recently recommended
that the current FMP (2004 to 2013) requires an amendment to increase
the karri logging-quota from 117,000 cubic metres pa, to 170,000
over a 10-year period. Not something that you would expect from
an agency whose primary role is to protect forest biodiversity values.
And if and when, the new FMP is implemented - dont expect
areas of high conservation state forest to be declared as new national
or conservation parks; especially if the state forest is habitat
to endangered species.
WA taxpayer expects government agencies such as DEC, the Environmental
Protection Authority and the Conservation Commission to act on their
behalf in protecting one of the few Biodiversity Hotspots
on the planet, so that their intrinsic ecological values can be
enjoyed for now and by future generations. But how can the public
have confidence in a flawed submission process; especially when
the proposed FMP (2013 -2024) has already been compromised by the
symbiotic relationship between DEC and the bankrupt FPC (FPC Annual
the symbiotic relationship between DEC and the bankrupt FPC isnt
urgently dealt with by the Barnett Government, then all the good
intentions for protecting one of the few Biodiversity Hotspots
on the planet initiated by the Gallop government will leave future
generations asking: why didnt we take a stand and stop the
unnecessary destruction of our natural heritage?
high conservation Wellington Discovery Forest was excised from the
Wellington National Park in a deal struck between the Greens (WA)
and the loggers (Hansard - Nov 26/2004). The WDF is now used by
DEC and the loggers as an eco-education site to demonstrate to primary
and high school students on how Third World logging and burning
practices enhance forest biodiversity values.