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28 Jun 10 @ 07:19am by Emily Webb

Sarah Rees, Stephen Powell, Bernie Mace, Steven Meacher, Lorraine Leach, Adam Menary and Sera Blair

Sarah Rees, Stephen Powell, Bernie Mace, Steven Meacher, Lorraine Leach, Adam Menary and Sera Blair

YARRA Ranges Council is putting its weight behind a community push to stop native forest logging within the shire.

At a packed meeting on June 23, residents from Toolangi and Healesville heard from council representatives and environmental lobby and conservation groups.

Lyster ward councillor Samantha Dunn told the audience of more than 300 at Healesville Memorial Hall that the forestry industry’s claim that it was a “significant driver of the Yarra Ranges economy” was a myth. She said the industry contributed $24 million annually – .02 per cent – to the local economy and accounted for 91 of the 35,000 jobs in the shire.

“Timber workers should have a job but it is time to (move) to plantation logging and get out of our native forests,” Cr Dunn said.

She was joined by councillors Tim Heenan, Jeanette McRae and Noel Cliff. Event organiser Steven Meacher said logging had already proceeded at sensitive sites that were approved after Black Saturday.

“The Department of Sustainability and Environment is considering VicForests’ application for 148 more coupes, with a decision expected soon,” Mr Meacher said.

Healesville resident Bernie Mace said he was concerned about an application for further logging coupes on Mt St Leonard.

“I want the profile of the mountain to be respected and retained by VicForests,” Mr Mace said.

He said the proposed logging was at the base of the mountain, which was at the start of the Bicentennial National Trail, a world-renowned 5330km trail.
“It would be a catastrophe if that was logged.”

Wilderness Society’s Victorian forests campaigner Luke Chamberlain said clear felling – the type of logging done in parts of Yarra Ranges – was akin to vandalism. Mr Chamberlain said native forest logging was an unsustainable industry both environmentally and economically and that it was time to look to plantation logging.

On June 8 councillors voted to write to politicians and call for an immediate halt to logging and future logging on the Bicentennial Trail and Mt St Leonard.

Do you think logging of native forest in the Yarra Ranges should be stopped?