Recently, we had the pleasure of showing Stephanie Ryan, the National Party candidate for the new Victorian seat of Euroa, around the Strathbogie Forest. Stephanie has a busy schedule and we only had an hour or so, but we had time to talk and drive to several of the proposed VicForest coupes. And of course we showed her what can happen to a ‘mixed-species‘ logging coupe when things go wrong.
We impressed on Stephanie that we’re not opposed to logging per se, but we are totally opposed to the current logging methods used by VicForests. The new Vic. Nats. candidate was well informed about how VicForests and the Timber Release Plan operate and we left her in no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the local community was opposed to VicForests’ plans.
Stephanie agreed to relay our group’s feelings to her fellow National member, Peter Walsh, Minister for Agriculture and also encouraged us to write to him personally outlining our concerns and how we envisage a way forward.
So, what is the best way forward?
There has been no examination of land-use in the Strathbogie Ranges since the Land Conservation Council’s studies in the 1970-80’s, despite significant changes in just about everything to do with land management: technology, markets, biodiversity conservation, water use and yield, population pressure, other forest industries and climate. Our group feels strongly that it’s high time for the Victorian Environment Assessment Council to undertake an independent study of all the issues relating to the sustainable management of these forests. And that’s what we’re pushing for, right up to the the November State election and beyond.
In the meantime, we want a moratorium on all logging in the Strathbogie Ranges, so that we don’t lose any more values ‘while the jury is out’.
We appreciate Stephanie giving us some of her precious time and hope we can work constructively together in the future.