Stakeholder Update - Protest in East Gippsland
1 February 2018
As you may have seen or read in the media, a group of protestors stationed themselves at a live VicForests harvesting site in far East Gippsland last week. This action put themselves, and the workers, at risk and caused timber harvesting operations to be suspended.
This harvesting is part of ongoing operations that occur following a multi-layered planning process that considers the management of the many environmental and other values present in the forest. This operation is important to meeting the increasing demand for timber in Victoria.
VicForests listens to the community and incorporates their concerns into our plans where possible but does not condone dangerous, unlawful actions.
Earlier this year in response to stakeholder input, VicForests agreed to retain trees over 2.5 metres in diameter in addition to the existing biodiversity protection measures already in place. This new prescription has not been implemented as a result of the recent protest action, rather, It was been agreed upon through proper and considered stakeholder engagement.
The native timber industry contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to Victoria’s economy. This sort of action by protest groups impacts many jobs in regional Victoria and eight local employees needed to be stood down for the duration of this suspension.
In this coupe, VicForests has incorporated the retained trees over 2.5 metres in diameter into existing patches of retained forest already excluded from timber harvesting. Following operations, any left-over harvesting slash will be removed from these patches to minimise fire risk.
This means that after all the merchantable timber product has been delivered to local mills, what remains in the coupe (slash) will be used as fuel to conduct a regeneration burn. Regeneration burns mimics the natural regeneration cycle of eucalyptus trees to achieve best results when regrowing the area.
The protestors have now been escorted from the area by authorised officers and operations can safely recommence.