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Hundreds rally for Victoria’s wildlife

By Country News

Hundreds of people from almost 45 conservation groups gathered on the steps of State Parliament in Melbourne for the Nature For Life Rally, to call for action in protecting Victoria's wildlife and natural environment.

The rally, on November 28, marked the five-year anniversary of the Andrews Government and the last parliamentary sitting week for the year.

It also came two days after workers in the timber industry protested the ban on timber harvesting from native forests.

Victorian National Parks Association’s executive director Matt Ruchel said their rally was planned months in advance to highlight a range of groups calling for more action.

“It's important to highlight the places and wildlife we care about,” Mr Ruchel said.

Save Our Strathbogie Forest president Bertram Lobert said the rally called for greater protections for nature in all its forms across Victoria.

“The rally is bigger than the forest industry; it's broadly about voter support for policy on environmental protection,” Mr Lobert said.

The group released a report containing 30 initiatives around nine key themes:

●Create new national parks and reserves in central-west Victoria.

●Protect native forests.

●Fund and manage national parks to high standard.

●Protect and enhance rivers.

●Protect bays, marine waters and coasts.

●Action for birds.

●Conserve private bushlands.

●Stop invasive species.

●ACT legislation for nature.

The protection of national parks would include Wombat Forest near Daylesford, Wellsford Forest near Bendigo, Mount Cole Forest near Beaufort and the Pyrenees Ranges near Avoca.

Mr Ruchel said almost a decade had passed since the last major addition to the national parks system in Victoria by the state government.

“The Andrews Government right now has a great opportunity in this term of government to create 60 000 hectares of new national parks and other protected areas in the central-west of Victoria.”

The VNPA also spoke about providing traditional owners with support to better manage parks.

The rally was followed by a picnic in the Treasury Gardens, which Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio was invited to attend.

Wilderness Society Victorian campaigns manager Amelia Young said the government needed to deliver on its promises to protect Victoria's forests.

“Recent Andrews Government commitments to immediately protect some forests and ban old growth logging need speedy delivery.”