Methods questioned

By Country News

An environmental group has raised concerns about VicForests’ logging practices at the Barjarg Flat coupe.

And Strathbogie Forest Group committee member Mark Tame said blame lay with Victorian Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.

‘‘She refuses to meet any conservation groups or take any meaningful action in relation to the forest, even though she is well aware of the facts,’’ he said.

‘‘If Lily keeps doing nothing, this forest will eventually be destroyed.’’

Mr Tame said the Barjarg Flat coupe had close to the highest conservation values — in flora and fauna — in the entire Strathbogie Ranges.

‘‘When they started cutting last year, it wasn’t any resemblance to what they were planning to cut,’’ he said.

‘‘There are checks and balances built into the system, if they’re doing the wrong thing, DELWP can put a stop to it.’’

Mr Tame said conversations with Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning had been fruitless.

‘‘We get very little response from the minister, we have requested a meeting for the past three years and are not getting anywhere,’’ he said.

‘‘Steph Ryan is the only politician that has actually gone out and had a look.’’

A VicForests spokesperson said the low intensity single-tree harvesting operation started in January.

‘‘Single-tree harvesting is different from other harvesting methods as it removes a much smaller number of trees from an uneven aged forest,’’ corporate affairs general manager Alex Messina said.

‘‘The style of harvesting has been chosen as a result of discussions between VicForests and the local community.’’

Mr Messina said before any harvesting VicForests completed a thorough multi-layered planning process to consider the many environment values in the forest. This process aimed to identify any endangered native species and their habitat.

Mr Tame said VicForests vandalised last year’s logging operation, leaving an absolute mess.

‘‘They do an environment assessment but it’s all on paper, they don’t actually walk through,’’ he said.

‘‘The also fail to adhere to promised logging practices and subsequently ... trees are left looking like a plantation.’’

The area being harvested is about 40ha and is expected to take about two to three months to complete.

—Hayden Thomson