Conservationists are shocked to learn that VicForests have illegally logged more of the threatened Tree Geebung (Persoonia arborea) at Ballantyne’s Saddle, which was the site of a Forest Conservation Victoria protest in May this year. A total of fourteen Tree Geebungs were found in the iconic area, the remaining six have been bulldozed in the last few weeks. One tree is estimated to be between 200 and 500 years old. Despite an ongoing investigation into their illegal activities, VicForests has logged more trees, in the same area.
In May this year, Fauna and Flora Research Collective (FFRC) submitted a report to the environment department detailing that 6 of 14 Tree Geebungs found had been logged, a species that is given legal protection under the law. The department’s website says there is an ongoing investigation into the illegal logging, yet VicForests have gone back into the forest and destroyed 7 of the remaining original trees’ that had been found, before being prosecuted for the original breach. The forest is on the main tourist drive from Melbourne to Mount Baw Baw and an area of significance to Noojee locals, and visiting tourists.
Tree Geebungs are endemic to the Central Highlands of Victoria and are listed as vulnerable to extinction. They are protected by law, which states that mature individuals must be protected where possible. The environment department continues to be the subject of criticism after an independent review conducted last year found their regulatory capacity is weak and inadequate. The department has lost all respect and confidence from the community and needs to act now to adhere to recommendations outlined in the review. VicForests cannot claim ignorance, as the original report detailed where the Tree Geebungs were, and they have since been destroyed.
“The arrogance of VicForests to believe they are above the law is outrageous. Meanwhile the environment department is doing nothing to curb the ongoing illegal and legal destruction of threatened species habitat.”
“The department needs to do its job and prosecute VicForests immediately for this lawless logging. VicForests has shown us time and again that it has no respect for the law and the department has allowed this to continue. The department has so far been completely spineless in prosecuting VicForests and needs to hold them accountable to the law.”
“We are in a climate emergency and extinction crisis. The Andrews government is completely failing to act to protect species and ecosystems which are now going extinct on our watch.”
“The government must act in the interests of Victorians, who want to see native forests protected, and a fast transition out of an industry that is having devastating effects on our climate, wildlife, and unique ecosystems.”
“The blatant disregard of environmental laws by VicForests is just the tip of the iceberg, as these laws continue to be weak and ineffective in protecting Victoria’s wildlife, which is on the fast-track to extinction.”