The Victorian Government must urgently protect what’s left of our wildlife, and fund a long-term recovery plan.
This summer, severe bushfires raged across Victoria.
Lives have been lost, communities destroyed. Millions of animals have died and there is a very real possibility that some species may have been wiped out entirely.
We’re all feeling the horror of this devastation. We all want to know how to help.
With a lack of Federal Government leadership, the Andrews Victorian Government must step up and:
- Protect and help what’s left of the surviving wildlife, animals and habitat, including immediately stopping logging in Victoria’s native forests.
- Restore our lost forests and habitat, once the fires clear, with an urgent long-term plan and significant funding
- Transform our economy away from coal towards renewable energy and cancel subsidies for fossil fuel projects, to stop these catastrophic fires getting even worse.
- 120 animals, birds, plants, insects and fish are now at the brink of extinction in Victoria alone
- 1.4 million hectares have burnt, just in Victoria
- The fires have burnt more than 50% of their habitat for 185 rare and threatened Victorian animals, plants and other creatures
- Logging goes on in Victoria, even as fires continue to burn
- The Victorian Government has funded some wildlife food drops and rescue operations, but our wildlife needs a safe home for the long run. We must end the drivers of habitat destruction: logging and coal-fueled climate change.
Continue reading for more details of what we’re calling for.
Protect what's left
Even while our forests burn in East Gippsland, logging continues in our last remaining forests elsewhere in Victoria, which are home to the unique greater glider and more than 70 other threatened species.
The logging industry is even pushing to log in forests that have just burnt, and the Andrews Government might let them. It’s a shameless exploitation of the bushfire tragedy for corporate profit.
In the short term, while the full impacts of these fires are being assessed, we urge the Victorian Government to:
- Immediately stop logging in native forests. Bring forward transition funding for forest industry workers to move into new, sustainable jobs. The Government also needs to change the laws that allow loggers to destroy our precious forests just to make cheap paper.
- Urgently protect remaining habitat. It’s vital to protect the last remaining pockets of habitat, so that surviving animals have somewhere safe to call home. After fires, our threatened animals and birds are especially vulnerable to predators like foxes and cats, and our plants are threatened by deer and weeds. We need an urgent plan to protect wildlife and plants as they struggle to survive after the fires.
- Provide urgent veterinary and food interventions to save wildlife. We need to allow vets and wildlife carers to find injured animals and provide life-saving medical care. We also need to supply emergency food to wildlife, based on what different animals need and making sure it doesn’t increase chances of them being predated by feral animals.
Restore habitat and nature
Once the immediate recovery work has started, we need to urgently look at how to restore our forests and nature long-term.
For decades, Victorian Governments have let developers and big corporations destroy habitat for private profit - whether it’s mining companies polluting the environment or property developers destroying endangered grasslands on the edge of our cities.
For years, our National Parks have been chronically under-funded by both sides of politics in Victoria. Threatened species have had little to no funding committed for recovery plans and actions, and feral invasive predators and species have been allowed to run rampant and push native plants and animals to the brink of extinction.
We cannot let this continue.
We call on the Victorian Government to commit to urgently create a long-term plan to:
- Significantly increase protection and funding for our most threatened and endangered species, including specific plans for each species (the NSW has a $100m dedicated fund for this purpose, we could replicate this here)
- Create new national parks to protect habitat, including in our precious ancient forests which are being logged
- Significantly increase funding for invasive species management, including research for humane controls
- Significantly increase money for habitat restoration
- Recognising the ancient knowledge held by Aboriginal people about land, fire and animals, and ensure they play a lead role in this restoration work
- Revisit the laws that protect nature (the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act) to make them stronger and to stop big corporations destroying habitat for private gain
Transform our economy away from coal
Catastrophic fires, sea level rises and killer extreme weather events will become even more commonplace unless we transform Victoria to tackle the climate emergency.
Yet, the Victorian Government still gives taxpayer money to fossil fuel companies in Victoria and gives them approval for their polluting projects (like the coal-to-hydrogen project in the Latrobe Valley, exploring for gas off the coast of Victoria and in the Otway basin, and a monster gas ship in Westernport Bay).
The Victorian Government still has no plan to phase out coal in Victoria, yet we’re home to the most polluting coal power plant in Australia, Yallourn.
The Andrews Labor Government urgently needs to:
- Replace our three polluting coal power stations with renewable energy, including Yallourn, the most polluting coal power station in Australia
- Stop subsiding dirty coal and gas projects with public money.
- Extend the ban on gas drilling across Victoria, which will expire this year.
We also need to support communities, businesses and workers as they face climate impacts already happening, and as we transition to a clean, renewable economy in a just and fair way.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT, RESTORE AND TRANSFORM VICTORIA
Header image: Forest in East Gippsland via Lizardstomp.