December 18th, 2022CFMEU proposal to log Wombat Forest threatens iconic species: concerned locals, groups
An alliance of local conservation groups is horrified to discover that the CFMEU is seeking to source sawlogs from the Wombat Forest, in addition to the destructive salvaging of wind fallen timber currently taking place; compromising the very values that ensured it was designated to become National Park.
The groups say that in an open letter to the Opal Paper Mill in Maryvale, Gippsland, the union states that “there is a potentially viable option for alternative timber supply via the Wombat Forest…”. Recent court cases have established that VicForests has been logging illegally and so now has fewer options for obtaining timber, hence the proposal to further exploit the Wombat Forest.
Ballarat and Castlemaine Field Naturalists Clubs joined with the Moorabool Environment Group, Ballarat Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, Bacchus Marsh Platypus Alliance, Actively Conserving Trentham, Central Victorian Biolinks Alliance and Wombat Forestcarers to show their support for the campaign to oppose sawlog harvesting and halt the salvage works in the Wombat Forest.
On Sunday, December 11 more than 70 people from environment groups and the local community came to the Wombat Forest to express their anger at the continued destruction of the forest.
“Koala sightings in the Wombat have plummeted, as have many other species. We cannot allow for the continual degradation of remaining habitats further compromising these iconic species.,” Jessica Robertson, President, BWRC said.
“This proposed logging could be accelerating the decline of our beloved koala. Our government cannot verify true koala numbers in the area, we must assume they are endangered and protect their remaining habitat before it is too late.”
Dr Jodie Valpied, President, Bacchus Marsh Platypus Alliance: “Logging in the Wombat Forest would have a devastating impact on the Werribee River and Lerderderg River, which have their headwaters there. Logging causes erosion and river sedimentation, amongst other issues. This would have negative flow-on effects for the health of these rivers, their inhabitants, including platypus, and the people that enjoy these beautiful waterways. Instead of logging precious native forests, the paper-mill industry needs to do what they’ve been urged to do for decades – transition to ethical, renewable plantations and paper recycling. That is the only way to retain jobs long-term.”
Elspeth Swan of Ballarat Field Naturalists Club: “Members of the Ballarat Field Naturalists’ Club are disappointed that the promised new national parks and reserves have not yet been legislated and delivered and that logging is continuing. Scientific investigations have highlighted the need for greater protection for key areas in Victoria’s central west. It is difficult to understand why a range of threatened species is being put at further risk by continuing to ‘log’ in some areas. The continued destruction of habitat values is unsustainable.”
Members of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club have also expressed “dismay to hear that the Wombat Forest is under further threat from logging”.
They are extremely concerned about the failure to protect the precious flora and fauna of this forest, many of which are State and/ or Nationally listed as threatened, such as the Powerful Owl, Greater Glider, Koala and Wombat Bush Pea.
The alliance of groups is urging the state government to rapidly complete the process for making the Wombat Forest a National Park.
“It’s time for all our timber to be obtained from plantations, not native forests.” Gayle Osborne, Convenor of Wombat Forestcare said.
“It is hard to believe that this could be happening in a forest that is designated to be a national park. In June 2017, the then Minister for the Environment, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio wrote to us to assure the group that VicForests would not undertake sawlog harvesting in the Wombat Forest.”
Words and Image: Supplied