Bushfires legal action: WOTCH v VicForests
In January 2020 as the scale and impact of the bushfires was just being revealed, we launched an urgent Supreme Court action to protect the habitat of some of our threatened species most severely impacted by the bushfires. Our Supreme Court case against VicForests seeks to protect unburnt habitat for the threatened Greater Glider, Sooty Owl, Powerful Owl and Smoky Mouse. These animals were severely impacted by 2019–20 bushfires and all found to be among the ‘fauna species of most immediate concern’ by the Victorian government’s own preliminary response to the
We have found these animals in forest areas earmarked for logging. Yet, logging continues without protections in place to avoid serious damage to these species, and before the government has completed its work to protect our remaining wildlife and their habitat in response to the devastating bushfire impacts. Our case argues this logging is unlawful.
Without this legal challenge, VicForests will continue to log critical areas where these threatened animals persist. Since our case was launched, we have secured injunctions to halt logging in 26 forest areas for the duration of our case. These include forest in the Kalatha Valley of the Giants in Toolangi, along the iconic Koala Creek near Cambarville, in the Upper Thomson water catchment, and around Mansfield, Noojee and Warburton.
The trial has been listed for three weeks from 25 November 2021.
WOTCH is represented by Environmental Justice Australia, a leading public interest legal organisation. We have also engaged an outstanding team of barristers including Richard Knowles QC, Kathleen Foley and Julia Watson.