The Red Gum forests of Barmah-Millewa - along the banks of Australia's iconic Murray River - are a haven for threatened species and a homeland of deep significance to Indigenous Traditional Owners.
This rich landscape of forests, wetlands, floodplains and woodlands is internationally significant. Together, the Barmah forests, on the Victorian side of the Murray and the Millewa forest, in NSW, comprise the world's largest red gum forest. The forest is also a Ramsar listed wetland, supporting globally significant populations of rare and threatened bird species.
In 2010 new National Parks were declared to secure the future of this extraordinary ecosystem. Now, in 2014, these National Parks are under threat.
The Victorian and New South Wales Government want to trial destructive 'thinning' practices inside the National Park. This means logging red gum trees with mechanical harvesters in around 400 hectares of the Park, building roads and using herbicide in this sensitive environment. This perverse 'scientific logging' trial could be used as a model to push for destructive intervention in other National Parks across Australia and the globe.
The Federal Environment Minister can put a stop to this destructive proposal. Tell Environment Minister Greg Hunt to use his powers under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to disallow the proposed 'ecological thinning' program in Red Gum National Parks.
These trials must not be allowed to proceed because:
They will have a significant impact on a sensitive environment of international significance; the felling of trees, the use of mechanical harvesters and herbicides and the development of road infrastructure will degrade the natural values of this area.
The science is not proven. No one knows if this kind of thinning program will actually have a beneficial effect. It will take a minimum of five years before the results of the trial can be assessed.
The trials would take place in a RAMSAR wetland site providing crucial habitat to rare and threatened species.
The trial sets a precedent for destructive intervention in National Parks.
There is a range of other sites, outside National Parks, where sensitive active management approaches could be trialed.