Over 30 people attended our Easter citizen science and skill share camp over the long weekend, including Green Senator and First Nations activist Lidia Thorpe. Volunteers did surveys for Greater Gliders, tree measuring, and marked out a walk through an incredible area of threatened forest in the Cottonwood area. Community protests have halted logging for the last 9 weeks in the area. One area was removed from the immediate logging schedule, while two others are currently being blockaded. More than 5 people have been arrested and fined in the last week, but a person is still occupying a tree-sit, and another a quad-pod structure blocking access to the area.
Despite multiple arrests, for nearly 9 weeks protests have continued to halt logging in East Gippsland in a contentious area of forest near the Errinundra Plateau. The area has been identified by the government and conservationists as a critical area for threatened species impacted by the fires, plans to log have been thwarted by community actions which have prevented logging from going ahead.
A report we worked on with East Gippsland environment groups and Victorian National Parks Association shows Errinundra is a critical refuge for species like the Greater Glider, which are still threatened by logging where they're found. Almost 60 coupes are scheduled around Errinundra, and 90,000ha are scheduled in forest refuges across Eastern Victoria.
Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe visits the Errinundra blockade
The government’s Environment Department are defending logging in the area, claiming the Glider’s are not there in the number which trigger protection. But environmentalists say the law is very clear that if you find 2 within a hectare, the area gets protection. Conservationists have been butting heads with the Environment Department over protection zones which are put in place for threatened species, which have not included the areas where animals have been found and are not stopping logging in key refuges for wildlife.
GECO has had multiple meetings with the government's Environment Department which have gone no where. Conservation groups are increasingly frustrated by deliberate attempts from government department's to ignore community concerns and argue the case for their logging company.
Conservationist occupies a quad-pod blocking access to the logging coupes
Quotes from GECO spokesperson Chris Schuringa:
“Over the past 9 weeks community members and supporters have put their bodies on the line to stop the Andrews government’s destructive logging plans.”
“We’ve found Greater Gliders in these forests which are barely hanging on. Everywhere has been burnt by the fires or logged. These intact areas which are critical refuges need to be protected.”
“The government is putting logging first. They don’t care about the animals, all they care about is continuing business as usual. No one wants this logging to go ahead. The government needs to listen to the science, and strong calls from the community to protect these forests.”
"Why are these arguments with the government for protection of this area still going? Logging belongs in the last century. The science backs forest protection. The laws back protection. The Andrews Labor government needs to get on with it."