Logging concerns

By Jackson Russell

A Mitchell Shire environment group has raised concerns about the proposed logging of a section of the Tallarook State Forest by VicForests.

VicForests is currently planning to log 14 coupes in Tallarook State Forest with harvesting expected to begin within six to eight months.

The 14 coupes in Tallarook State Forest were included in last year’s Timber Release Plan, which was approved on December 18, 2019, in addition to another coupe approved in 2015.

BEAM Mitchell Environment Group president Peter Lockyer said the group was alarmed about the logging on several fronts, including forest management, timber quality and wildlife concerns.

“The forest generally is not of saw log size, so clear felling may well produce wood for pulp only. Are we to accept the clear felling of the Tallarook Forest, and all of its non-forestry values, for just paper pulp?” he said.

“The small tree size and consequent low timber value must be weighed against the benefits of a standing forest habitat for wildlife in the air and on the ground, carbon draw down, educational value and recreational value.

“This is a popular forest for walking, camping, cycling (with or without engines) and hunting. A clear-felled area provides none of these.”

Mr Lockyer called on local MPs to intervene and stop the logging.

“Even if there were no endangered species in the forest, the standing forest has far more value than subsidised clear-felling and the environmental disaster that ensues for so many years,” he said.

A VicForests spokesperson said a public consultation period was held last year.

“VicForests held a public consultation period between November and December last year for stakeholders to submit their feedback on our planned harvest in the Tallarook State Forest,” the spokesperson said.

“We received no submissions related to this planned harvest and the coupes were approved through our normal Timber Release Plan process.”

A State Government spokesperson said the Timber Release Plan included immediate protections from logging for 96,000 hectares of forest across Victoria to protect more than 35 threatened species.

“We take the protection of our natural environment seriously and the government is ending native timber harvesting by 2030, in line with the Victorian Forestry Plan,” the spokesperson said.

“The government has unveiled a $120 million package to help communities adapt with the transition of the industry, including developing new opportunities for employment and further support to local economies.”