MEDIA RELEASE: 14 June 2017
Threatened species including the iconic red-tailed black cockatoo and some of the most vulnerable and fragmented forests left in Victoria will be at risk under new plans to re-open logging in the west of the state.
An analysis of VicForests’ new logging plans for western Victoria shows logging will target areas known to contain high numbers of threatened species and large areas of endangered, vulnerable or depleted native vegetation types.
“More than 30 threatened native animals and plants have been found in or closely adjacent to a third of all proposed logging areas,” Victorian National Parks Association executive director Matt Ruchel said today.
“The high level of threatened species found in these areas is indicative of their ecological importance as prime habitat and should rule out any future logging operations.”
VicForests’ new Timber Utilisation Plan 2017 is the first to be published since the state-owned logging agency controversially took over management of logging in western Victoria on the eve of the 2014 state election. Much of the timber to be harvested is for low-value uses including commercial firewood, poles, posts and some sawlogs.
“The new logging plans are completely at odds with the sensible and sustainable management of our western forests and woodlands, and a recipe for ecological disaster,” Mr Ruchel said.
Stretching west from the Hume Hwy to the South Australian border and north to Gunbower on the Murray River, the proposed logging plan covers a huge part of the most cleared and fragmented parts of Victoria, and more than six forest management areas.
“Logging has been scheduled for around 60 state forests, including the Otways Forest Park, the Wombat Forest, Mt Cole near Ballarat, the Wellsford Forest near Bendigo and even woodlands just west of the Grampians,” Mr Ruchel said.
“It is a profoundly flawed approach to on one hand, provide millions of dollars for revegetation and recovery works with thousands of volunteer hours in our most cleared landscapes, while on the other opening up the last remaining native forest remnants on public land to logging.
“In just one example, more than 10 areas in the southwest scheduled for logging under VicForests’ plans have records either within or adjacent of the nationally endangered south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo.
“Victoria’s red-tailed black cockatoo has been subject to a huge recovery effort and is one of 20 priority species listed under the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy and yet under these plans its habitat could be logged.”
The Victorian National Parks Association is calling on the Andrews Government to ensure that no logging commences in western Victoria, that the proposed logging plan is comprehensively reviewed, and that the government consults with the community before it proceeds, if it proceeds at all.
Matt Ruchel, VNPA Executive Director – 0418 357 813.