GECO and Central Highlands Action Group, 5 December 2011
Conservationists are taking action across Victoria today to expose and hold accountable the Baillieu government and Vicforests for the ongoing destruction of threatened species habitats.
Conservationists in East Gippsland and in the Central highlands have halted logging operations this morning.
In Toolangi, Central highlands, the group has seized four logging machines which are attached to a tree sit, 50 metres up in the tree canopy. In East Gipplsand local community members are occupying a logging coupe in their water catchment, near Bonang, in known Long Footed Potoroo Habitat.
“Vicforests is responsible for logging in areas where endangered species have been recorded. The East Gippsland Long Footed Potoroo and the Central highlands Leadbeaters possum are in major decline. These areas are the last strong holds for those species and must be protected immediately,” said spokesperson for East Gippsland, David Caldwell.
“VicForests continue to force the Leadbeaters possum, towards the edge of extinction. This is one of Victorias most threatened species who’s very existence depends on these Mountain Ash forests of the Central Highlands.” Luke Pavia, spokes person for Central Highlands.
“The Ballieu Government has proposed to exempt such logging operations from adhering to the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act . This will weaken the already inadequate protection laws that are supposed to ensure survival of our most vulnerable species.” David Caldwell.
There is general disappointment within the wider community about unnecessary secrecy surrounding the protection of threatened species in Victorian State Forest. Vicforests refuse to make public, the results of their pre-logging, flora and fauna surveys, and have not been able to prove that adequate habitat exists in surrounding areas. They are obliged under the FFGA to do so. If these measures have not been complied with then logging operations being conducted are in breach of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and are thus unlawful.
Conservationists in the coupes want to be assured that these measures have been complied with before any logging proceeds.