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December 8, 2010 – BY ADAM MORTON

THE Victorian government’s timber arm, VicForests, has been cleared of allegations it illegally logged old-growth forest and increased risk to a threatened species in the central highlands.

Green group My Environment accused VicForests of felling pre-1900 ash eucalypts and failing to protect habitats vital for the survival of Leadbeater’s possum, the Victorian faunal emblem.

An Australian National University scientist commissioned by the Department of Sustainability and Environment assessed one stump considered representative of all large trees in the logged area and found it was likely it started growing in 1905-06. Separate assessments examining pre-logging aerial photos found there had not been enough large, hollow trees in the logged area to qualify as a Leadbeater’s possum protection area.

VicForests spokesman Nathan Trushell said it showed systems were in place to care for the environment. But My Environment said it would consider a Supreme Court challenge to the audit.