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Rallying for local forest

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Wombat Forestcare members rally outside Mary-Anne Thomas' office. Photo - submitted

More than 50 environmental protestors attended a snap rally, voicing concerns over VicForests’ logging in the Wombat Forest.

Called by Wombat Action Group, members of Landcare and Friends groups, Wombat Forestcare and the Sybil Disobedients (XR Ballarat) took to the office of Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas in Gisborne, demanding an end to “environmentally destructive salvage logging” in the Wombat Forest.

The protesters also demanded the Wombat-Lerderderg National Park be legislated; a promise made in June last year following the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) ‘Central West Investigation Final Report’.

“The Wombat State Forest has conservation values that make it worthy of National Park status, yet the government has failed to legislate the park and failed to protect its threatened species including the Greater Glider, recently listed as ‘Endangered’,” Wombat Forestcare spokesperson Gayle Osborne said.

“The industrial scale ‘salvage’ logging by VicForests is being promoted as reducing bushfire risk, but instead is destroying critical habitat for wildlife. It has become overwhelmingly clear that this operation is a log grab to prop up a failing industry.”

When asked her thoughts on the rally, Ms Thomas reiterated that the works in the Wombat Forest were only clearing hazardous trees.

“We understand and respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we will continue to ensure the appropriate environmental protection measures are in place during this work,” Ms Thomas told the Moorabool News.

“These works are happening in direct response to treating hazardous trees after the severe storms, and no trees are being removed unless they present a hazard or for operational necessity and no clear-felling.”

A Victorian Government spokesperson added that “critical work is currently underway by the Surveyor-General to establish the new boundaries for the Wombat-Lerderderg National Park” – the first step towards “the permanent protection of the park through legislation”.

In a July 20 media release, DJAARA Traditional Owners said the clearing was important for the healing of Country.

“It was essential that windthrown timber was cleared and safety restored for all those that live on Country. From apex predators through to lichen, Country cannot heal until the habitat and safety of all who traverse and live on Country is considered. That is our way and that is what we call Forest Gardening,” DJAARA’s statement reads.

“As with all work to be undertaken by the corporation, we look for those people with experience and expertise, coupled with respect for our responsibility to take care of Country. The provision of this, on such a scale, was limited and DJAARA was pleased to appoint VicForests to undertake making Country safe.”