The forests at Sylvia Creek, near Toolangi, were partially logged by VicForests, a Victorian State Government owned enterprise.
This forest is one of the few old forests in the area to survive the Black Saturday bushfires.
The forest includes mountain ash trees which were home to the endangered Leadbeater’s possum, Victoria’s animal emblem.
Most of these ancient trees will be woodchipped to make Reflex paper, when plantation timber could be used instead.
There have been significant public protests in the forest, with calls for the Victorian State Government to stop the logging and protect the forest. .
Logging commenced in July 2011 and continued until September 2011, when the Victorian Supreme Count issued an injunction to stop the logging following legal action initiated by the local environment group MyEnvironment.
The halt on logging was subsequently extended to 6 February 2012, when a full court hearing of the case is scheduled.
20 July 2011
A public meeting about the logging was held in Toolangi on 20 July 2011. Over 70 people attended with less than 24 hours notice.
Friday 22 July 2011
Police on Sylvia Creek Road advised that the road is closed so it appears logging may have started.
Local residents visited the forest during the afternoon on 22 July confirmed that logging of the Gun Barrel Coupe has commenced. The gate on Sylvia Creek Road was closed but standing at the gate, 300 metres from the entrance to the coupe, machinery and falling trees could be heard. A lot of smoke was sighted too, also visible from Toolangi, so so something is being burnt.
Police confirmed they have been advised that there will be no logging over the week-end, which is consistent with the “Weekdays, 6am – 6pm, Road Closed” signs. Logging in this area is beaching the required 20m buffer required under the RFA.
Monday 25 July 2011
More than 70 people turned up to protest in the forest, mostly locals.
The police and representatives of VicForests were on site but the gates on Sylvia Creek Road remained open. For now, further logging seems to be on hold while they seek advice on how to respond.
A tree-sitter is in place, 40m up a Mountain Ash that is due to be felled. They are roped to the logging machinery so that it cannot be moved or used. It is anticipated that they will remain in place for some time and lots of support will be required. Donations of food and other materials, as well as cash donations (there are likely to be legal costs) are being delivered to the MyEnvironment office, 5 Church Street, Healesville (above the lawnmower shop).
It is interesting to note that the Tasmanian government has now accepted it is time to stop clear-felling native forests. The Victorian government must do the same.
Wednesday 27 July 2011
The day started with the action at Tanglefoot Car Park. A number of people were able to get into the coupe and it seems that work was stopped or disrupted for several hours. There was even an admission from a Forest Officer that the protesters have a “genuine case”
Monday 19 September
The injunction on logging Sylvia Creek was extended at a session of the Supreme court.
Special Protection Zones and Leadbeaters Possum habitat compromised
VicForests has conceded that the Sylvia Creek forest area contains old-growth trees more than 110 years old. Public protests and pressure forcing both VicForests and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) to conduct new surveys to check the forest’s environmental values.
DSE has confirmed the logging coupe contains old growth trees, even though VicForests and Government Minister Louise Asher insisted last week that it was not old growth forest, according to Wilderness Society forest campaigner Luke Chamberlain.
“We demand an acknowledgment from the then Acting Premier that she has either been deceived by VicForests or she herself has misled the public. Louise Asher must apologise to the people of Toolangi.”
VicForests was forced to remove three hectares of old growth and rainforest from their logging plans, but they are proceeding with logging the remaining forest.
DSE and VicForests claim that the area being logged is not suitable habitat for the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, but expert scientists and conservationists have disagreed.
“Over half the Leadbeater’s Possum’s forest habitat was destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires, so every last bit that survives is incredibly precious, and essential to this tiny animals’ survival,” said spokesperson for local group My Environment Sarah Rees.
The Burned Area Emergency Response Report (BAER) commissioned by the Brumby Government after the 2009 bushfires recommended preserving refuge areas such as those in Toolangi for biodiversity recovery.
Logging Coupe Map showing Special Protection Zone areas
Gun Barrel Coupe map, Sylvia Creek forest
- More detailed map: Save Sylvia, Google Maps
- My Environment, Information, resources and updates on Silvia Creek and other Central Highlands forests.
- Conservationists attempt to halt logging at Sylvia Ck old-growth forest, The Wilderness Society
- Presentation on Sylvia Creek forest
- Tree-sitter takes fight for rare possum to new heights, The Age, 26 July 2011.
- Victorian environment laws put to the test, Video – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)