Australian Supreme Court Halts Logging Project as Animals Seek New Habitat Amid Fire Destruction
The Australian Supreme Court has stepped in to put an immediate halt to a logging project in east Victoria while it waits for cases about the health of native species to be heard in court, according the Brisbane Times.
The state's logging agency VicForests must immediately stop logging several areas that were earmarked for clear-cutting. Environmentalists had argued that that devastation from the fires in East Gippsland had put an inordinate amount of strain on native species in Victoria. They argued that areas that were left unscathed must not be logged while surviving animals try to find a new habitat, as the Australian Broadcasting Company reported.
Justice Kate McMillan said there was "a real threat of a serious or irreversible damage to threatened species and their habitat should harvesting operations continue in the coupes," according to the Australian Broadcasting Company. "The recent bushfires have caused extensive environmental damage, the severity of which is only beginning to be understood."
Wildlife of the Central Highlands filed the case against VicForests. It is looking to stop 10 areas that are scheduled for clear-cutting. The current injunction stops three of them from continuing. They will seek an injunction for the other seven forests when the issue is before a court again in a few weeks, as The Guardian reported.
Wildlife of the Central Highlands claimed the areas targeted for logging are habitat for the greater glider, the smoky mouse, the sooty owl, and the powerful owl — all have been identified by the Victorian government as being of immediate concern because of the bushfires, according to The Guardian. The plaintiffs say that logging the areas where these animals have been spotted is illegal until the government creates a plan to protect the wildlife.
Environmental Justice Australia, which represented Wildlife of the Central Highlands in court, told the justices that the animals had seen their habitats destroyed in the fires so the unscathed areas will now take on a larger role in conservation. Considering that, the trees should remain standing for the short term, according to the Brisbane Times.
Danya Jacobs, a senior lawyer with Environmental Justice Australia, said it was a good result for threatened species "who suffered a huge blow after the catastrophic bushfires," as The Guardian reported. She added, "important unburnt habitat is now safe from logging, while this case moves to the next stage."
"This case is an important test for whether laws designed to protect threatened species are able to do so in the aftermath of this summer's catastrophic bushfires," said Jacobs, as the Brisbane Times reported.
Victoria's Premier, Daniel Andrews, said the fires destroyed 40 percent of the area in East Gippsland that had been slated for logging, as the Australian Broadcasting Company reported. In 2019, Andrews announced that logging in Victoria would be phased out by 2030 because of dwindling sustainable supplies.
"I don't think we yet know exactly what the impact is on the current timber release plan or our timber transition plan in terms of whether the volumes we thought would be available will be," said Andrews, as the Australian Broadcasting Company reported."There has been impact from these fires, and we will have to assess what that impact is."
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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