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Media release 16 January 2012
Central Highlands Action Group

Tree sit halts logging at Toolangi

More than 30 protesters are today halting logging operations at a large coupe on Yellowdindi rd in Toolangi state forest.

“The clear-felling of native forest in this area has been an ongoing source of dismay for local residents and today’s protest is yet another cry out to be heard by the many who believe that this special area should be granted permanent protection” said spokesperson Emma-Jayne Heather.

“These forests give us protection against climate change and provide habitat for native fauna which is such a feature of this area” said one concerned Toolangi local.

“Residents are also concerned that following the Black Saturday fires in 2009 that clear-fell logging in the area will increase the risk of mega-fires due to the large amount of wood waste which is left behind in coupes. The resulting mono-species regeneration after logging operations is far more combustible than the mature age forests which are being removed. This is a recipe for further fire disasters”.

“There is much evidence to support these fears, with recent publications by eminent ecological scientists such as Dr David Lindenmayer clearly indicating that clear-felling practices in the Central highlands area notably increases fire risk and thus threatens the whole region” said Ms Heather.

“Toolangi state forest has recently gained the nickname ‘the green hole in the black donut’. It is a comparatively small area of bush land which escaped the 2009 bush fires, making it a last sanctuary for many critically endangered endemic birds and mammals whose numbers further plummeted during the blaze”.

“Many of these creatures such as the Leadbeater’s possum and the Sooty and Powerful owls require hollows in trees in which to live. The ideal sorts of hollows are found mostly in trees which are 120+ years old. Such trees are increasingly rare in Victoria and logging is the main cause for the shocking decline in numbers of these species that we are seeing”.

“It is absolutely critical that what is left of the mature native bush in the Central Highlands be protected. Many nature reserves were destroyed in the Black Saturday bush fires and it makes sense that they be replaced with neighboring habitat which remains intact. The future of Victorian native plants and mammals depends on it” said one of the activists at Yellowdindi today.

The coupe in question contains predominantly Mountain grey-gum and Mountain Ash, both of which are ideal for forming hollows and are well known  for Leadbeater’s sightings.

The Yellowdindi coupe is one 8 adjoining coupes, potentially adding up to 250 hectares of denuded land between now and the end of the current 5-year logging schedule.

The protesters hope to hold off the destruction until the government intervenes and commits to providing national park status to the area.

Logging operations are being stalled via an intricate network of ropes woven around two log harvesters and then attached to two 30 metre tree sits from which two activists are suspended.

Another logging machine is being held by two demonstrators who are locked into the tracks, therefore rendering the machine unsafe to operate.

“We have such little mature forest left in this area” said one of the activists “we will regret it forever if we let our heritage slip away. We call on the Environment Minister to visit the coupe and see this destruction for himself. The state government must act to protect these forests”.