Victoria's first forest blockade for 2019 has been disrupted by state government authorities at Granite Mountain in East Gippsland and a conservationists life put at risk.

Yesterday morning at 11.30am more than a dozen state Government authorised forest officers, VicForests and police arrived at the Granite Mountain old growth forest blockade in East Gippsland. Protesters from Forest Conservation Victoria (FCV) were directed to move their camp and vacate the road, but the conservationist occupying the tree-sit platform attached to a tripod structure blocking the road refused to leave their tree, despite risking arrest.

As a result, with complete disregard for the safety of the conservationist, authorities illegally and dangerously began road works to gain access to the logging area by excavating adjacent to the tripod structure blocking the road.

The risk of such an operation was overwhelming, as a logging machine not designed for road works was used to clear an area only centimetres away from one leg of the tripod structure. The path was cut into a steep hillside risking trees falling onto the tripod, further endangering the person’s life.

Despite the extremely dangerous situation and without proper consideration of risks to the persons safety, the police, VicForests employees, and authorised forest officers allowed and carried out the roadworks. The authorised officers claimed the roadworks were part of “timber harvesting operations” despite clearly being outside any designated logging area, as shown on a VicForests map posted nearby. Vehicles now have access to the old growth logging coupe and machines have started bulldozing the forest.

Alannah from Forests Conservation Victoria said: “Within hours of the authorities attending the protest they began roadworks which endangered the life of the conservationist, so they could continue logging old growth forest. It was heart-wrenching to watch them have such disregard for someone’s safety and put the person’s life at risk to continue to log some of the last old growth forests at Granite Mountain.”

“It is absolutely appalling that the Andrew’s Labor Government has gone to these extreme lengths to put the interests of its own logging company, VicForests, ahead of public safety and forest protection” stated Alannah.

The brave conservationist remains suspended in the tree as government forest officers camp beneath in a desperate attempt to arrest the person. Logging has now started, but the person’s actions are still preventing log trucks from entering and leaving the area as they continue to take a stand for Victoria’s native forests.

“It’s clear after today where the government’s priorities lie. They have chosen the decimation of forests for private profit over calls from most Victorians to end native forest logging. Over four-thousand emails have been sent to the Victorian Premier calling for an end to the logging of old growth forest at Granite Mountain” said Robert Pergl from Forest Conservation Victoria.

“Logging machines are now destroying the forest again, but our team will continue protesting and supporting the incredible actions of the person remaining in the tree-sit, who has gone above and beyond to send a message to the government that logging our native forests into extinction will not be met without resistance.” Said Robert.

“At this critical point in time, with mounting evidence that these places are crucial for the survival of threatened species, our water security, and the climate, these forests need to be protected now before it’s too late.” Said Robert.

Forest Conservation Victoria acknowledge the thousands of years of custodianship over the land and waters of so-called East Gippsland by the Bidwell, Ngario and Gunnai Kurnai nations. We pay our respects to elders past present and emerging and acknowledge the sovereignty was never ceded.

About the author

Forest Conservation Victoria is a community group run by people deeply concerned with continued native forest logging and are campaigning for the protection of Victoria's unique and threatened eco-systems.

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