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BEAM Mitchell Environment Group at odds with VicForests over Tallarook logging plans

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By Colin MacGillivray’

BEAM Mitchell Environment Group representatives say they are still concerned about a VicForests logging program in Tallarook State Forest despite meeting with the forestry body last month.

BEAM president Peter Lockyer said the meeting with VicForests, which the group had pushed for, did nothing to assuage his concerns about the potential logging of old-growth timber and damage to native flora and fauna.

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Mr Lockyer said a BEAM citizen science survey had discovered a high number of old-growth trees in coupes planned for logging in Tallarook State Forest.

He said plans to log the areas contradicted the State Government’s policy of not logging old-growth areas.

“VicForests have said that they will only cut 50 per cent of the trees in the logging coupes. That is still 50 per cent too many,” he said.

“VicForests has not bothered to do an old growth forest assessment, even though most of the coupes to be logged have not been harvested for more than sixty years – so far back there are no records of earlier logging as we understand.”

A VicForests spokesman said the coupes Mr Lockyer was referring to had not been scheduled for harvest and therefore had not yet been surveyed by VicForests.

The spokesman said old growth assessments were completed at every coupe and old-growth trees, if identified, were excluded from harvesting.

“VicForests has held several meetings with BEAM recently to address the group’s concern, including a meeting in the Tallarook State Forest with senior forestry and ecology experts,” he said.

“At the conclusion of this engagement, BEAM advised that they would formally provide VicForests with a response to its planned operations. We are disappointed that they failed to do so before distributing [a media statement].

“BEAM’s claims regarding VicForests’ intentions to harvest past the Victorian Government’s planned cessation of native timber harvesting and that it cannot be ‘bothered’ to conduct old growth assessments are wrong.”

Mr Lockyer said logging activity in the forest would impact endangered species and contribute to climate change.

“As climate change advances, we need to do all we can to draw down carbon from the atmosphere. Keeping old growth forest is an important way to do this,” he said.

“Surveys conducted over the last 12 months have found more than 100 greater gliders, as well as powerful owls, sooty owls and koalas. All of these iconic animals face increasing risk of extinction. DELWP released 400 koalas into the forest five years ago. It is crazy to then decimate their habitat through logging.

“It is Victorian Government policy to phase out all logging in native forests by 2030. Despite this, VicForests admitted that their logging techniques are designed to allow the trees left behind to grow to a size better for logging in another 30 years.

“So VicForests, an agency owned by the Victorian Government, is planning its current logging operations with an eye to logging again after 2030. This is unacceptable.”

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