A protester looks on as native timber logging continues in state forests.

By Evelyn Leckie

A Kinglake environmental group has called the State Government’s announcement to ban native timber logging by 2030 as inadequate, saying harvesting should stop now.

Kinglake Friends of the Forest, who protested against the logging of a 22.8 hectare area of Mt Robertson Forrest in July and also delayed logging in seven other areas including the Toolangi State Forrest, say logging must stop now.

The group’s president Sue Mckinnon said people and the government needed to treat the climate situation like ‘our house is on fire’.

“If we don’t change business as usual, there’s going to be catastrophic consequences and untold suffering according to 11,000 scientists,” she said.

“We have to keep the carbon in our trees in the same way that we have to keep coal in the ground – civilisation cannot afford to keep converting native forests to smoke and paper.”

Premier Daniel Andrews announced last week that VicForests will extend existing timber supply agreements until 2024, but will stop by 2030.

“This industry is going through a transition. It means it’s not good enough for us to merely cross our fingers and hope for the best. We need a plan to support workers and support jobs,” Mr Andrews said.

“With a 30-year plan for transition, we’re providing much-needed certainty for workers and their families.”

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the plan was the largest environmental protection plan in the state’s history.

“We’re taking this step to protect our precious natural gifts for generations to come, while striking the right balance between environment and jobs,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

As part of the plan $120 million will be set aside to support the transition for industry workers.

But Opposition leader Michael O’Brien criticised the announcement, saying the industry ban would gut regional communities.

“This sustainable industry has been the backbone of regional Victoria for generations and Daniel Andrews is putting an end to the livelihoods of tens of thousands of mums and dads who rely on the industry,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The Liberal Nationals will pull out all stops to fight for regional Victoria and will rally against Daniel Andrews and his arrogant decision to rip the heart out of regional Victoria.”