A group campaigning to prevent logging of state forest around Mirboo North has described assertions VicForests has no plans to harvest timber in the coupes this year as “meaningless”.
Preserve Our Forests, a group of largely Mirboo North community members formed after VicForests’ 2017 announcement it intended to log state forest around Mirboo North, said it understood the logging had been deferred until autumn 2019.
However, VicForests general manager corporate affairs Alex Messina told The Express the state-owned business had no plans to harvest timber in the three coupes this year.
“That could change, that is not to say it will change, but the potential remains open,” Mr Messina said.
“We don’t have a schedule to meet and we don’t have any scheduled plan to harvest [at Mirboo North].
“The coupes will remain on our books and obviously if we were going to move to another set we would certainly move to initiate more detailed discussions.”
VicForests has investigated a number of draft options in place of clearfelling, including a selective harvest regime in which around 60 to 70 per cent of the pre-harvest trees would be retained in the Samson and Doug coupes.
In the Oscine coupe, the lightest option would harvest only about half of the coupe – not using clearfell methods – and would retain around 40 per cent of the forest. There would also be no harvesting south of Ricardo Road to create a buffer around Lyrebird Walk.
Under this option, 55 hectares would be harvested in the Oscine coupe, 26 hectares in the Samson coupe and 31 hectares in the Doug coupe.
POV steering committee chairperson Marg Thomas said VicForests’ draft plans were “speculative” and provided “no solid and meaningful commitment”.
Last year the group conducted a socio-economic survey, guided and analysed by South Gippsland Shire, revealing the “vast majority” of the community was against logging and that the forests were of “critical importance to our wellbeing and, as importantly, our tourist industry”.
POV will meet with Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio in February.
“Our community has unequivocally said time and time again that they will not agree to any logging operations within the strategically important small island of native forest,” Ms Thomas said.
Preserve Our Forests steering committee will host a community picnic at Baths Road Reserve, on the corner of Ridgeway and Baths roads, Mirboo North, on Saturday, February 9 at noon to celebrate the forest.
There will be children’s activities, guided nature walks, live music and more.
Participants are asked to bring their own food, drinks and a folding chair or picnic blanket.
For more information or to RSVP, visit the Preserve Our Forests Mirboo North Facebook page.