By Evelyn Leckie
CONCERNED Kinglake residents are protesting in the Mt Robertson Forest to call for VicForests to stop native forest logging in the area.
For the past two weeks, protesters have been walking into the ‘Spyglass’ coupe which is a 22.8 hectare area off Extons Road being cleared as part of a VicForests timber release plan.
The plan follows a long-standing agreement the State Government has with a paper mill company which allocates a certain amount of national forest area per year for timber milling purposes.
Kinglake Friends of the Forest conservation group have petitioned for six months for the Mt Robertson logging plans to be cancelled.
“This forest has survived three major fires – Black Saturday, 1926 and 1968 – and to think it’s now being intentionally destroyed by man is disappointing,” group member Sue Mckinnon said.
Ms Mckinnon said surrounding community members were concerned about greater gliders – a threatened species specific to the logging area, as well as the increased fire risk that comes with regrowing forests.
“Young regrowth forests increase fire severity, something the Kinglake residents could well do without,” a spokesperson of the group said.
“This regrowth area is adjacent to properties and within kilometres of the school and township.
“The paradoxes are the government is proposing to spend millions on a fire museum while they are increasing the fire threat to communities. They’re spending millions of dollars for protection of threatened species while their logging is the greatest threat to threatened species.”
A VicForests spokesperson said detailed coupe plans had been provided to stakeholders which includes extensive protections for greater gliders through a retained habitat zone on the eastern side of the coupe and they will be prioritising the retention of current and future hollow bearing habitat trees within the harvest area.
Kinglake Friends of the Forest group maintains VicForests have not surveyed the area for greater gliders.
“All steps were taken to greatly reduce the risk of bushfires when regenerating coupes by using low intensity post-harvest burning and mechanical disturbance techniques,” the spokesperson added.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio was contacted for comment.