MEDIA RELEASE 12 April 2022 |
VicForests’ newly released plans to salvage log parts of proposed Wombat-Lerderderg National Park reveal dramatic increase of coupes in and around Wombat Forest.
Adding dozens of coupes to this popular forest is a clear breach of last year’s firm commitments by the Andrews Government to log only a small area of the soon-to-be national parks.
“This is not a clean up operation, this is smash up operation, said Matt Ruchel, Executive Director of the Victorian National Parks Association. “It’s a broken promise by the Andrews Government. The new forest recovery timber release plan needs to be cancelled”.
“It’s alarming, completely over-the-top and outrageous,” said Wombat Forestcare Convenor, Gayle Osborne. “While a highly-targeted and sensitive clean-up operation may be needed in some places, this is essentially a snatch and grab”.
On 24 June 2021, The Victorian Government responded to the expert recommendations from the four-year VEAC Central West Investigation.
A commitment by the Andrews Government included a 24,000-hectare addition to create the new larger Wombat–Lerderderg National Park, and a number of regional parks.
Strangely, the commitment sanctioned continual logging in proposed regional parks and 17 existing areas in the proposed new national park (eight coupes up to 2029 and nine coupes up to 2025).
Now under the guise of ‘salvage logging’ rules, VicForests have expanded their logging operations by hundreds of acres. Some 175 new areas were tacked on to existing coupes – over 80 in the proposed national park, totalling 4000 hectares across Wombat Forest and surrounds.
The release of the so-called “Forest Recovery Timber Utilisation Plan” is unprecedented. The plan purports to deal with trees damaged by storms last year, but goes much further in practice.
With VicForests and DEWLP still planning storm clean-up operations along and around roadsides, this three-year ‘recovery’ plan is completely excessive. To further entrench and expand logging in national park-designated areas is disturbing.
Wombat Forest is a prominent hotspot for threatened wildlife, such as the Greater Glider, Powerful Owl, and Brush-tailed Phascogale, along with many others.
This move to exploit critical habitat conflicts with the Andrews Government’s recognition of the importance of protecting Victoria’s remaining native forests.
There is also concern about 500 hectares of new logging areas in Cobaw State Forest, which was proposed as a conservation reserve, and hasn’t been logged for a long time.
Groups are calling on the Andrews Government to cancel the Forest Recovery Timber Utilisation Plan, and implement the promised new parks immediately.