After years of discussion and campaigning, environment groups feel like they are losing the battle to protect Strathbogie State Forest with VicForests beginning its logging operation.
Euroa Environment Group and Strathbogie State Forest Group want a thorough assessment of the forest values to establish how much forest is available for sustainable logging and ensure it does not encroach on native species.
Victorian Environmental Assessment Council advice has been requested by the groups.
Not only were the groups disappointed with the decision to begin logging, but they were upset by the announcement being made by nailing a logging notice to a tree in the forest.
Strathbogie State Forest Group spokesperson Sim Ayres was expecting at least a phone call, given the amount of consultation with VicForests during the past three years about the long-term future of the Strathbogies.
However, VicForests said it did notify the community groups and the sign was a notice of safety zone area.
VicForests’ planning general manager Nathan Trushell said there has been no harvesting in the Strathbogie area since 2006-07 and the planned logging was a low intensity timber harvesting operation of 27ha.
Euroa Environment Group and Strathbogie State Forest Group were most concerned about the overall long-term logging plans which they have said would include up to 10 coupes of a combined 450ha, however VicForests said these future plans were still being finalised.
While he acknowledged logging as a necessary activity, Mr Ayres said a lot of the logs being removed would be too small to affect significant economic returns.
‘‘We’d be living in dreamland if we said there should be no logging at all,’’ Mr Ayres said.
‘‘But I don’t like the whole economics of what VicForests does. We have so much timber being taking out of our forests but it’s for such little financial gain.
‘‘VicForests doesn’t give us anything back for the timber it gets out of our forest so the financial returns are getting less and less.’’
Mr Ayres also questioned why there was a need to log so heavily when timber plantations had been established for about 25 years.
‘‘We did this so we wouldn’t have to harvest native forests … I think we could supply our nation-wide timber needs from plantation timber alone.’’
VicForests said plantation timber was a different species and quality to native timber and was used for different purposes.
VicForests will use the single-tree selection harvesting method, leaving behind an unevenly aged forest once harvesting is completed and remaining trees would either be retained as habitat trees or to continue to grow on.
Mr Trushell said the site would be re-established through a combination of retained trees, natural seedfall and proactively sowing native seed where needed.
Originally Published at http://www.countrynews.com.au/2016/09/21/3063/logging-starts-in-strathbogies