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  • Jessica Craven
  • From: Herald Sun
  • July 18, 2011 9:37AM

UPDATE 12.21pm: CONSERVATIONISTS will try to halt a controversial logging operation northeast of Melbourne today.

Protesters will walk into the logging exclusion zone at Sylvia Creek, near Toolangi, in a bid to stop logging work.

Luke Chamberlain, spokesman for The Wilderness Society, said protesters wanted to stop the destruction of one of the few old forests in the area to survive the Black Saturday bushfires.

“Logging must stop once anyone’s on the site,” he said.

Mr Chamberlain said the area included mountain ash trees which were home to the endangered Leadbeater’s possum, Victoria’s animal emblem.

“Most of these ancient trees will be wood-chipped to make Reflex paper, it’s a disgraceful waste when we could be using plantation timber to supply all the paper we need,” he said.

“We’re calling on the State Government to protect Victoria’s native forests for the sake of our wildlife, and to preserve these vital stores of ‘green carbon’.”

VicForests spokesman Nathan Trushell said no possum habitat or old growth trees would be harvested.

“VicForests inspects all areas prior to harvesting to identify old growth Mountain Ash forest and potential Leadbeater’s Possum habitat,” Mr Trushell said

“In this case, a section of Leadbeater’s Possum habitat has been identified outside of the area planned for harvesting.  This habitat will not be harvested.

“At all times, a Special Protection Zone is created around any area which meets the criteria for Leadbeater’s Possum habitat and the area is excluded from harvesting operations.”

Mr Trushell said VicForests maximised the amount of sawlog produced by all of its operations.

“Timber that does not meet these high sawlog standards is utilised for the production of quality paper products, rather than being left behind on the forest floor,” he said.