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VFPA slams Murrindindi council trying to stop logging at Snobs Creek

Murrindindi Council: Cr Gallagher, Cr Gerencser, Cr Carpenter, Cr McAulay, Cr Lording, Cr Haslam, Cr Walsh

The Victorian Forest Products Association has slammed a northern Victorian council’s unanimous decision to advocate for logging to cease in the Snobs Creek area. Murrindindi Shire Council on Wednesday called on the Victorian Government to phase out current native timber harvesting activities in the Central Highlands forests in Murrindindi, in particular in the Rubicon Valley, “pending resolution of the best approach for the future protection and use of these unique areas. Source: Timberbiz

The council called on the State Government to invest now to assist in industry transition, and “ensure that communities reliant on timber harvesting can continue to be part of the thriving economy in the future, including transition to alternative plantation-based timber supply”.

The Victorian Forest Products Association said council’s decision was a clear case of “not in my backyard” and showed an appalling lack of understanding of the sustainable native forest industry in Victoria.

VFPA CEO Deb Kerr said the council had fallen for the Victorian Government’s spin when it pretends there will be a “transition’ from native timber to plantations in 10 years.

Ms Kerr said it took up to 80 years for such trees to grow and the Victorian Government had not planted one seedling which would produce appearance grade hardwood trees.

Cr Karine Haslam told the council meeting that although the State Government had announced the phasing out of native timber harvesting by 2030, logging in the Central Highlands had increased through the Rubicon Valley and was now being conducted in the Snobs Creek area, with logging trucks using Snobs Creek Road as a major access to logging coupes.

“The road had been broken up and dust covers the trees alongside the creek,’ Cr Haslam said. “Of immediate concern is the planned logging of coupes between the Snobs Creek Catchment. The coupes are Drycleaner, Gullmarg, Laundry, Dry Spell, Hills Hoist, Kinnabaloo, Curious George and Washboard.

“VicForests is about to commence logging of old and mixed unique species forests in these coupes at Snobs Creek from February 28.

“If the logging is allowed to proceed, tourist trails through pristine forests will be destroyed, pollution of Snobs Creek from the logging will threaten the viability of the Snobs Creek Hatchery, and the increased dust from the destruction of Snobs Creek Road will further pollute the creek and render the formerly popular Snobs Creek Falls unviable as a tourist attraction.”

The motion was seconded Cr Eric Lording.

Cr Damien Gallagher noted that the coupes are in the Rubicon State Forest and not on Murrindindi Land, so the motion was one of advocacy, to request that the state authority acts.

Plantation-based timber supply transition was seen as vital.

Ms Kerr said it was a simplistic notion and just not feasible for the native forest sector to transition to plantations in a decade particularly as the plantations do not exist.

“The only transition which will take place under the current plan is a transition to imported hardwoods from other nations – and inevitably some will come from places where they practice deforestation,” she said.