An environment group called Knitting Nannas of Toolangi is taking a complaint of intimidation to police after a logging truck drove past one of their gatherings at an “unacceptably high speed” last week, north of Melbourne.
When members of the group posted photos of the truck on Facebook, it sparked a torrent of abuse from pro-logging advocates, including a photo of giant tree on the back of a logging truck.
The log, believed to be four or five metres in circumference and hundreds of years old, had “hug this” painted on it, a reference to the term “tree huggers” which is often used to describe environmental campaigners.
The photo sparked outrage amongst environmental campaigners.
A spokeswoman for the group, who have campaigned against the logging of environmentally sensitive logging coupes in the area, said the photo showed a “lack of respect” for anyone who opposed logging.
The spokeswoman asked not to be named because of fear of reprisals.
She said the group was formed to stop intimidation from pro-logging groups.
“We’re now being subjected to the same treatment,” she said.
Loggers ‘giving the finger’
Members of the Knitting Nannas said they were taking their complaint to police in hope the intimidation would stop.
Jill Redwood from another group, Environment East Gippsland, said it was the loggers “giving the finger” to environmental groups.
“It was recklessly provocative and shows total contempt for community values and the concerns about our forests,” she said.
“It was put up the same day I and two other groups were meeting with department [Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning] to start process of working out giant tree prescriptions [to protect them],” she said.
Loggers are not supposed to cut down any tree over nine metres in circumference.
Nathan Trushell, of VicForests, the state-owned business responsible for logging, said it does not “condone this type of behaviour.”
“We are following up with the contractor concerned to address the issue,” he said in a statement.
“Our contractors are very responsible in the way the conduct themselves but this was a clear error in judgement from the individual involved.
“We apologise to anyone who was offended by the photo.”