Gunns Ltd has dropped charges against Russell Hanson, former CEO of the Wilderness Society, but proceeding with its claim against fourteen remaining defendants. Five other environmentalists have had charges against them dropped since the case was initiated by the logging company in December 2004.
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The Conservation Council has expressed dismay that only four weeks have been allowed for consultation over a planned expansion of Adelaide’s urban boundary. The expansion will open an extra 2000 hectares for housing development in the South Australian capital.
Food crops like sugar cane and maize may be superseded as sources for biofuel by alternative source plants that could be cultivated without putting as much pressure on land and water resources. Possible alternatives include jatropha, a tropical plant that can grow on waste land, willow, American switchgrass and the ever-controversial hemp.
An inquiry into sustainable use of water from the Murray Darling system will be held by the South Australian parliament’s Natural Resources Committee. The inquiry, backed by the upper house in the face of government opposition, will look at agricultural usage both in South Australia and other eastern states.
Motorists in Auckland can now buy a fuel blend that combines regular petrol with bioethanol derived from whey, a by-product of milk processing. The new fuel, manufactured by the Gull Oil Company, will soon be available across New Zealand.
Forestry Tasmania gave staff a day’s paid leave and free bus rides to attend a pro-pulp mill rally in Tasmania, in what the Wilderness Society describes as an “inappropriate and insulting use of public money”. The Forestry department has also been accused of secrecy in its dealings with Gunns Ltd, having so far refused to release information on its wood supply deal with the company.
A rare species of velvet worm has surprised scientists with its proliferation after last year’s bushfires. The Giant Velvet Worm, which lives in decaying logs and is unique to eastern Tasmania, has proved not to be susceptible to bushfire, as was first thought, and actually appears to be thriving in the regrowing forest.