Activists occupy Victoria’s devastated Rubicon Valley

Forest activists highlight the devastation of the Rubicon State Forest in central Victoria on June 9.

A group of about 80 activists from across the state climbed the steep mountain slopes in the Rubicon State Forest in Victoria’s Central Highlands on June 9 to highlight one of Victoria’s largest logged areas.

The group held a 25 metre-long banner saying “Save the Rubicon — Stop the Logging” and a second 13 metre-long banner saying “Forests for Life Not Logging” as they stood in the devastated landscape.

Former forestry academic Dr Nick Legge of the Rubicon Forest Protection Group said: “This part of the Rubicon State Forest contains one of the largest continuous areas of logged forest in the state, with a total logged area of about 1000 hectares since 2009, equivalent to almost 600 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

“This area includes at least two separate instances that exceed the maximum allowable area of 120 hectares.

“Breaches in the Code of Practice for Timber Harvesting go largely unchecked, with areas much larger than permitted being logged. There are soil wash-outs on steep slopes that should never have been logged and scenic protections ignored.

“At current rates the Rubicon State Forest will be logged out in five years, with current remaining intact areas of mature mountain ash forest completely gone.”

Logging breaches in the area are rife. Two logging coupes in the adjacent Snobs Creek Valley are only protected by a legal injunction brought by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum. They have a case in the Federal Court challenging whether logging in certain areas of endangered species habitat can continue to have a special exemption from federal threatened species law.

Local ecologist Ann Jelinek said: “This protest is timely considering it is the one year anniversary since the listing of the greater glider as a threatened species with no protection in sight and logging of greater gliders habitat continuing unabated. Barely 100 hectares of old-growth forest remains.”

The Rubicon Forest Protection Group has called on the state government to establish an immediate moratorium on logging this remarkable area while a detailed environmental and socioeconomic assessment is conducted to examine the full range of values the forest offers.

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