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

Logging halted near Kinglake: locals say no to business as usual

For the second week in a row, local residents have walked into an active logging coupe and disrupted operations to bring attention to the ongoing destruction of Victoria's forests.

Logging is occurring in some of the last remaining forest in Kinglake in Victoria's Central Highlands that has not been logged or burned in bushfires. Forests like these fragments left in Murrundindi in the Kinglake area are critical refuges for threatened species including the Greater Glider, that has been identified within logging coupes. The Victorian government is yet to release an Action Statement outlining how the Glider will be protected. This Statement is required by law under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

Of even greater concern to local residents is the fact that logging continues in these forests in a climate emergency. While scientists around the world are highlighting the importance of protecting forests and carrying out massive scale revegetation to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and address the sixth mass extinction, the Victorian government continues to allow logging in some of the most carbon dense forests on the planet to fulfil contracts with Nippon Paper to make copy paper. Around 80% of Victoria's forests end up at the Australian Paper manufacturing plant (owned by Nippon) to make Reflex and other brands of copy paper.

"There is no time left for the Central Highlands," said Gayle Cole from Toolangi. "The forest ecosystem is critically endangered. One percent of old growth forest remains".

"The government's hands are tied by unions and vested corporate interests. We have to think creatively and bring an end to this horror immediately." she said.

Following intense public campaigning, Officeworks agreed to stop stocking Reflex copy paper by 2020 if it was found to be sourced from unsustainable logging. Bunnings has made the same public statement in regards to its native wood products. Time will tell if these retailers are true to their word.

In the meantime, Kinglake locals say they will continue to disrupt business as usual (unsustainable logging) in their forests as long as the Victorian government continues to ignore public opinion and the science on logging native forests.

Kinglake residents will hold a public meeting to discuss what can be done to save the last of their forests on Sunday 20 October at the Kinglake Community Centre, corner of Whittlesea-Kinglake Rd and Extons Rd, 2 to 4pm.

#notbusinessasusual
#forestsforcarbon

About the author

Eco-shout is a catalyst to action for environmental and social justice.

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