Protesters descended on Strathbogie State Forest last week, blocking the road leading to the forest in an attempt to stop timber harvesting.
Conservationists are protesting VicForests’ decision to undertake harvesting in the forest that would see 50 per cent of trees in the planned harvest area logged.
Victorian Greens forests spokesperson and Member for Eastern Metropolitan Samantha Dunn called on the Victorian Government to halt logging, saying it put the great glider possum at risk.
‘‘VicForests is all too happy to continue to push Victoria’s threatened species to the brink of extinction,’’ she said.
‘‘The minister should stop sitting on her hands and put proper protections for the greater glider in place. VicForests are using this opportunity to log their best known habitat while they can.
‘‘It’s time Victoria moved away from unsustainable native forest logging before it’s too late for both our species and the industry. A move to sustainable plantations is the only way forward.’’
Yet VicForests has hit back at the claims, stating it has met with community members on many occasions to discuss their concerns and although it supported the right for anyone to protest, those protesting against the harvesting operation ‘‘do not necessarily represent the views of the wider Victorian public’’.
VicForests community forestry manager Bill Paul said a survey conducted by Arthur Rylah Institute had been undertaken looking into a number of threatened species in the forest, including greater gliders.
‘‘Following this, our conservation biologist spent three days walking the area with a conservation focus and individually marking trees to ensure best available habitat is protected for the greater glider,’’ he said.
The trees, which were last harvested several decades ago, will be harvested via single-tree selection, a method that removes about 50 per cent of the trees in the planned area, leaving behind trees of varying ages to either grow larger or provide habitat for native species.
The area being harvested in the Strathbogie forest is about 0.1 per cent of the total forest.
The harvested wood is expected to be used to produce furniture, flooring, staircases and housing material, as well as firewood and paper.
VicForests estimates the harvesting will directly create 25 jobs.