Blockade on Mt Baw Baw tourist road enters third day

Logging has been stopped on the Mt. Baw Baw tourist road at Icy Creek for a third day. A conservationist from Forest Conservation Victoria (FCV) is suspended in a tree 25 metres off the ground on a platform tied to logging machinery.

The group is protesting the ongoing destruction of Victoria’s native forests across Victoria and calling for an end to the destructive practice.

“The Labor government continues to log Victoria’s forests, while the world is calling for urgent and progressive action on climate change. Post-logging burns emit huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, polluting the environment and suffocating local towns. These forests also play a vital role in storing carbon and mitigating the devastating effects of climate change,” said FCV representative, Sarah McConnell.

“Australia is on a fast track to climate catastrophe. You cannot have a serious federal or state climate policy without including the protection of forests. To continue logging what little we have left amid a climate emergency is suicidal,” Sarah McConnell said.

These forests are rich eco-systems which support many of Victoria’s unique and threatened flora and fauna, including the threatened Greater Glider which has been found in the area. The forest on the chopping block runs along the main road to Mount Baw Baw and is an iconic route to a treasured tourist destination.

“This particular coupe adds to the extensive clearing that runs along Ballantynes Ridge which has been decimated over the past 2 years. It’s devastating to see the ongoing destruction. Logging of native forests is completely unsustainable, and they will never recover. We need to see immediate and meaningful action taken to protect our natural environment,” said Hayley Forster of FCV.

“Logging has permanently scarred the landscape in this area and entire hillsides have been completely wiped out. It is appalling that the Victorian government logs these places which are home to threatened species and are the catchments which supply Melbourne with its water,” Hayley Forster said.

Forest Conservation Victoria is committed to campaigning for native forest protection. With climate emergency at the forefront of the upcoming federal election, forest protection and stronger environmental laws need to be a major priority. State and federal Labor and Liberal parties have no policy to bring an end to destructive logging of native forests, despite communities Australia wide wanting to vote for environmental protection.

Forest Conservation Victoria acknowledge the thousands of years of custodianship over the land by the Wurundjeri and Gunnai Kurnai nations. We pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

Media Contact:
Christine S

High quality photos attached. Video on request.

About the author

Forest Conservation Victoria is committed to defending Victoria's native forests from the destructive clear-fell logging industry.

Government authorities disrupt peaceful protest at Granite Mountain, East Gippsland

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.

https://www.facebook.com/forestconservationvic

Illegal logging discovered at Ballantynes Saddle as forest blockade enters second week

This morning community group Forest Conservation Victoria discovered illegal logging of a threatened species of tree, the Tree Geebung (Persoonia arborea) in an area they have blockaded for over a week.

A report has been submitted by forest survey group Fauna and Flora Research Collective (FFRC) to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Government owned logging agency VicForests are required by law to protect the Tree Geebung and have instead bulldozed some of the mature individuals in the coupe. The report states that 14 Tree Geebungs have been found and 6 have already been logged.

> Read the FFRC report here.

A conservationist is suspended 25m in a tree on a platform tied to machinery preventing logging from continuing. The forest is situated on the iconic Mt. Baw Baw tourist road, a popular and well used scenic route from Melbourne to Mt. Baw Baw.

Last year an into DELWP's management of forests demonstrated the departments failure to regulate logging in Victoria and stated that their enforcement policy is completely inadequate. The department needs to ensure the protection of the Tree Geebung and investigate this illegal logging carried out by VicForests.

“The Environment department have repeatedly failed to prosecute VicForests for past cases of illegal logging. VicForests have been found to have illegally logged rainforest in East Gippsland but the case was thrown out by the courts due to the departments incompetence just last year, ” said Christine Schuringa of Forest Conservation Victoria.

“The logging industry and the environment department cannot be trusted to follow their own regulations. Time and again we have seen them continue to destroy threatened species habitat, log old growth forest in East Gippsland, and it has fallen on community members to hold them accountable,” Christine Schuringa said.

Last week threatened Greater Gliders were found within the Ballantynes Saddle logging coupe. Government records also show sightings of the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum within a kilometre of the forest currently defended by protesters. It is unknown how large the Leadbeater’s home range extends but the law only requires a 200 metre buffer around a sighting of the possum.

Considering the rapid decline of threatened plant and animal species, it is critical that drastic action is taken to ensure their survival. This comes less than a week after the release of the damning UN Biodiversity report, which highlights that land-clearing and logging are pushing species to extinction.

“We are facing an extinction crisis in Victoria where ecosystems are being pushed closer and closer to the brink of collapse from logging. Weak state and federal environmental legislation, and a rogue state-owned logging agency mean threatened habitat is still being logged. Concerned citizens now have no other option but to take action in an emergency situation where the government is failing us,” said Sarah McConnell of FCV.

“While VicForests are trying to defend their rights to log threatened species habitat in court they continue clear-felling Victoria’s publicly owned native forests behind locked gates and believe they are a law unto themselves. The so-called ‘progressive’ Labor government has repeatedly failed to ensure that our precious and unique plant and animal species are not being logged to extinction,” Sarah McConnell said.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Christine S -
High quality photos attached, vision on request

About the author

Forest Conservation Victoria is committed to defending Victoria's native forests from the destructive clear-fell logging industry.

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