Otway Ranges Environmental Network

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Title

Otway Ranges Environmental Network

Website Frontpage

Description

Welcome to the Otway Ranges Environment Network

The Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN) comprises individuals and groups who care about the native forests in the Otway region of south western Victoria. These are the forests that grow along the hills near the Great Ocean Road and behind the tourist towns of Apollo Bay and Lorne (shown as green on the map below. Also see Otway overlays for use with Google Earth)

OREN formed in 1996 with the aim of stopping the practice of clearfell logging biodiverse native forest (on public land) in the Otways. After an intense eight year campaign followed by a six year logging phase out period, this outcome was achieved. The OREN/Otway campaign was strongly based on the politics of non violent direct action (see 2 page pdf) .

Thanks to the work of conservationists and Otway residents, working though the OREN "network", all clearfell logging of native forest on public land in the Otways came to an end in 2008.

Clearfell logging native forests for woodchips is now illegal in the Otways.

See overview of OREN/Otways forest campaign.

See list of organisations that worked with OREN.

See political campaign update for more details.

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Type of group

Network

Primary environmental focus

Conservation & Protection

Geographic sphere or activity

Local

Primary location

Apollo

Known address

c/o Apollo Bay Post Office, Apollo Bay 3233, VIC

Website link/s

Date of known website activity

March 2010

Known reason for group inactivity

Unknown

Founding Year

History of group

Overview OREN/Otway forest campaign (1995-2008)

What the OREN / Otways campaign has achieved

The Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN) has conducted a successful decade-long active campaign to stop clearfell logging and woodchipping of the magnificent biodiverse Otway native forests for all time. OREN’s work followed the excellent work of other conservation groups who fought to protect the Otway forests in the 1980's and earlier.

OREN was engaged in a community campaign that involved promotion of non-timber forest values such as nature conservation, sustainable forest based tourism and domestic water supply. These values were being compromised by relentless clearfell logging for woodchips. To educate the community, OREN produced detailed reports, operated this web site, produced calendars (2001 - 2004 & 2006), made stickers, gave public talks, publish articles and letters for newspapers, drew the media's attention to issues, and gave tours of the Otway forests. And more.

The OREN/Otway campaign was strongly based on the politics of non violent direct action (see pdf).

Woodchips make up about 90% of the Otway native forest that is clearfell logged (See graph), and generate over 60% of the forestry bureaucracy revenue. Hence OREN's key foe's were the woodchip industry (first Kimberly Clark and then Midway) along with the forestry bureaucracy. It was forestry bureaucrats who were actually responsible for inventing clearfell logging and then a market for native forest woodchips back in 1981. The loggers themselves were more often than not, the meat in the sandwich as they were the ones asked to clearfell log native forest that was controversial. Unfortunately the loggers forest union lacked any compromise skills, preferring to playing political games that helped the woodchip bosses rather than work with the broad community on issues and realistic solutions.

Despite this, OREN's lobbying and community campaigning influenced the Victorian State Government decision to announce new Otways policies in the 2002 State election. The State Government then subsequently passed legislation in 2005 that created a new Great Otway National Park and prohibits all clearfell logging for woodchips on public land by 2008.

Successes

February 1997
Wilddog Ridge forest protests stop clearfell logging along the Wild Dog Ridge near Apollo Bay. Eleven local residents are arrested by forestry bureaucrats. However OREN, with help from lawyers, prove in court the logging was unlawful and charges against all those arrested were dropped. Wilddog Ridge now a National Park.
December 1998
Kimberly Clark the manufacture of Kleenex tissues, stops sourcing woodchips from the Otways after a two year campaign. Read 'refuse to use Kleenex tissues campaign'.
1999 - April 2000
Riley's Ridge tree village camp stops logging in late 1999. Camp is continuously occupied for six months by conservationists who prevent forestry bureaucracy sending in the loggers again. Riley's Ridge now a National park. Also at this time forest protests at the Cumberland River and at Middle Spur in the Geelong catchment succeeded in halting logging.
March 2001
Sabine Falls logging never commences after mass community protest at a picnic on site. Arrogant forestry bureaucrats taught a lesson after removal of a popular picnic spot so logging could commence.
April 2001
Ciancio Creek rainforest forest protest showdown with forestry bureaucrats stops clearfell logging with a dozen or more conservationists and local residents arrested. OREN again with help from lawyers, subsequently proves logging was unlawful and charges were dropped. Ciancio creek rainforest now a National Park.
February 2002
Halls Ridge logging was stopped with no protest arrests after OREN negotiated with the State government to avoid logging contentious areas in the Otways for the remainder of the season.
6 November 2002
Within days of calling the Victorian 2002 State election, the premier Steve Bracks went to Triplet Falls in the Otways to make significant policy announcements that has changed the way the Otways are managed forever.
30 November 2002
ALP Bracks State Government re-elected with mandate from the Victorian people to end Otways logging and create new expanded Otway National Park. (Read 2002 ALP election policies). Liberals are electorally punished for supporting continued Otway logging under the RFA.
December 2002
All native forest logging informally suspended in the Geelong domestic water supply catchments.
October 2004
The Premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks acknowledged in State Parliament that the West Regional Forest Agreement (or West RFA) was cancelled when the Otway policies were announced.
September 2005
Legislation to create Great Otway National Park and ban logging after 2008 is passed through Victorian State Parliament. This legislation is supported by the Victorian Liberal Party.
March 2006
Victorian native forest logging industry acknowledges that the Otways/OREN campaign was a "watershed" that undermined the RFA resource security agenda for the entire Victorian native forest woodchip industry.
The threat to the Otway forests from clearfell logging came to a head in March 2000 when the Bracks and Howard governments signed the West Regional Forest Agreement (West RFA). This agreement was an attempt by the woodchip industry to ensure they would get acccess to woodchip logs from the Otways, through clearfell logging the forets until the year 2020.

The West RFA was a money-making dream come true for the woodchippers, and a nightmare for conservationists and the community. Under this agreement at least 3-4 sq kilometres of Otway forest would be clearfell logged and woodchipped annually for at least 20 years.
The logging interests almost succeeded.
Great Otway National Park
However history took another path. The Bracks’ government never put into place the legislation required to lock the West RFA into a legally binding agreement.

Instead the wishes of the community came first. Conservationists’ dreams became legal reality in September 2005 when legislation to establish the 102,000 ha Great Otway National Park and 40,000 ha Otways Forest Park was passed though the Victorian Parliament. The changes to legislation resulting from the National Parks (Otways and Other amendments) Bill will only allow native forest logging within the Otways Forest Park until 2008 when the last sawlog and woodchip licenses are due to expire.
West Regional Forest Agreement cancelled.
When the Bracks’ government was re-elected in by the Victorian public in the 2002 elecitons, it was given a huge mandate to abandon the West Regional Forest Agreement(West RFA) signed only two years earlier.

No RFA agreement anywhere in Australia has ever been so totally and absolutely dumped before.
Find out how the native forest logging industry reacted to the cancelled West RFA.

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Wild Dog Ridge Campaign Group/s contributing or engaging in the campaign Series
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Kleenex Campaign Group leading the campaign Series
Water Not Woodchips Campaign Group leading the campaign Series
Sabine Falls Campaign Group leading the campaign Series
Ciancio Creek Campaign Group leading the campaign Series
West Regional Forest Agreement Campaign Group leading the campaign Series