Combined Media Release – 11th Sept, 2016
Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group and Euroa Environment Group
After three years of discussions and meetings with the local community, VicForests has announced the imminent logging of a controversial coupe in the Strathbogie Forest. The announcement occurred, not with a letter or email or even phone call, but by nailing a logging notice to a tree in the coupe and expecting locals to find it! It follows a lengthy campaign earlier this year by the Forest Group, Euroa Environment Group and Firefighters for Forests to halt a planned burn of more than 3000 hectares of the Strathbogies’ remaining forests which was ultimately re-negotiated with DELWP but at a high community cost.
The Strathbogie Sustainable Forest Group has consistently argued for evidence-based decision-making regarding forest management in the Strathbogies. Spokesperson for the Group, Sim Ayres, says “There is not an extensive forest up here. What we have left after 150 years of clearing for agriculture and pine plantations is a small, quite fragmented forest, a forest that is under increasing threat, yet which still has amazing, magical hidden treasures that our community values and is prepared to fight for.”
VicForests plans to log up to 10 coupes covering 450 ha in the heart of the Strathbogie Forest. Sim Ayres again, “We’re not opposed to logging and we’ve said that over and over, but we are totally opposed to logging that does not adequately assess the risk to other forest values. Neither the Government, nor VicForests understands what values exist in these coupes because they have never had a good look. From our local knowledge, we know that these forests are the last stronghold of a variety of forest dependent species in the entire Strathbogie Ranges; species including the threatened Powerful Owl and Greater Glider.
But what’s most at stake is the relationship between the Group and VicForests, and by default the Victorian Government. “We believe there could be a win-win here,” says Sim Ayres “given the chance. Once the forest’s values are thoroughly assessed, then it will be clear where and how much forest might be available for sustainable logging. And our local community wants to have that conversation. We should not be in a rush to log these forests. We need to get it right. A moratorium on logging, pending a VEAC investigation is not a cost, but an investment in the future. But this unilateral action by VicForests will set the clock back years and usher in a new phase of conflict.”
In a previous meeting with the Group, VicForests tabled the idea of developing a ‘Community Forest Management Agreement’ to guide future logging – it seems they were just more empty words.
Logging is due to begin on the 19th September – just over one week away. And when that first chainsaw starts up, the goodwill and thousands of hours of volunteer effort that have gone into this, will be scuttled because VicForests declared war on the local community.
Media enquiries –
Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group – Mr Sim Ayres 0455 246 141
Euroa Environment Group – Ms Shirley Saywell 0427 246 900