Recent information from our friends in WOTCH (Wildlife of the Central Highlands) suggests that VicForests propose to log sections of the Tallarook State Forest in the near future. A map of the area, as we understand it, is attached below.
BEAM is alarmed at this proposition on a number of fronts
- VicForests has a shameful record in forest management, failing to meet FSC standards consistently. [Bunnings recently banned the sales of VicForest timber for this reason];
- Logging native forests may well cease by 2030, so this appears a “6 o’clock swill” effort to cull as much forest as possible, unnecessarily;
- The quality of the forest trees as timber in the Tallarook State Forest is poor. 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? Seriously, when existing forest areas are so valuable in carbon draw down, and Victoria prides itself on its climate change action commitments?
- VicForests got an $18million grant last year to clean up its act, and only returned a $2million profit as we understand. If this was a private business not subsidised by the taxpayer, it would have folded years ago. Victoria can’t afford to be propping up a “basket case business” like this when so many decent businesses must remain closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It doesn’t stack up. VicForests is a decades-old festering sore that continues as an environmental flashpoint across this State.
- 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.
- The Tallarook State Forest contains several threatened species listed in the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, including the vulnerable Powerful Owl and Southern Greater Glider. In this time of extinction crisis, it is likely that the Forest contains many other species not yet recorded in the forest or listed as threatened. This north-west island of mountain forest is a significant link for species moving between the plains and the Great Dividing Range.
- There are important jobs in the timber industry. The jobs in plantation timber are secure. The jobs in native forest logging, however, are comparatively few and disappearing, but there are a lot of jobs in recreational tourism threatened when native forests are diminished.
BEAM calls on all of our respected local members, to intervene and stop this proposed 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. Mitchell Shire could better use the funds that subsidise VicForests in the destruction of our forests for a financial loss. As a triple bottom line analysis, the demand that we must make post-Covid, this proposal is a loss on all three accounts.
It should NOT proceed, and we ask for their active support to save our forests.
Peter Lockyer, President