Timber plan applauded

By Benalla Ensign

Community members have applauded the decision to halt all logging in Strathbogie State Forest.

The decision was announced by Agriculture Minister and State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes last month.

Save Our Strathbogie Forest group chair Bertram Lobert said he is pleased the government’s new Timber Release Plan shows the removal of all logging coupes, covering 370ha, from the Strathbogie Forest.

‘‘The local community has been working hard for the last five years to have the forest acknowledged as a significant natural, community and cultural asset,’’ Mr Lobert said.

‘‘We applaud the minister’s decision.’’

In 2017, research conducted by Victorian Government scientists found the Strathbogie Forest was a statewide stronghold for the Greater Glider possum, a recently listed threatened species.

The forest is also important for the survival of many other native plants, animals and vegetation communities, and is acknowledged by government and experts as a critical climate refuge for the region’s flora and fauna.

‘‘We hope the removal of these coupes signals a change in the Victorian Government’s thinking and planning,’’ Mr Lobert said.

‘‘We now encourage the government to take the next step and deliver permanent protection for the forest.’’

In October last year, the local Shire Council called for better protection and an end to logging in Strathbogie.

The council also moved to promote the economic future of the Strathbogie Forest by supporting nature-based tourism and recreational activities as well as a transition to plantation-based timber harvesting.

Euroa Environment Group chair Shirley Saywell said the new timber release plan was fantastic news.

‘‘With 74 per cent of the Strathbogie Ranges’ original forests completely gone we need to protect and cherish what we have left,’’ Ms Saywell said.

‘‘With climate change on our doorstep, the 24000ha Strathbogie State Forest will become increasingly important to the health and wellbeing of regional towns and communities as well as catchment health.

‘‘We applaud the minister’s decision.’’