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ARELJ Case Note - Applying the Cautionary Principle to Harvesting Timber in Victoria

Aleksandar Vuksic
Solomon Brothers

The recent Victorian Supreme Court decisions in Wildlife of Central Highlands Inc v VicForests
[2020] VSC 10 and WOTCH v VicForests (No. 2) [2020] VSC 99 mark the first injunctions made in
the wake of the Black Summer bushfires restraining VicForests from harvesting timber in
coupes on the basis that to do so would be a breach of the precautionary principle given the
impacts of the fires on threatened species and their habitat. The decisions highlight that the
scope of the precautionary principle is such that it may restrict harvesting of timber in coupes
already approved in the wake of unprecedented natural disasters such as the Black Summer fires.

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