Forest conservation campaigners in the Yarra Valley, east of Melbourne, released the statement below on June 15.
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The blockade to halt logging in the mountain ash forests of Mount St Leonard continues with protesters planning to lock themselves to log harvesting machinery to delay logging for as long as possible.
The blockade is strongly supported by Toolangi and Healesville residents and business owners, more than 120 of whom turned out for a public meeting three weeks ago to ask VicForests managers why they were logging the loved and iconic mountain.
The scars caused by logging on Mount St Leonard, the highest mountain within a 160 kilometre radius from central Melbourne, are visible from all over the Yarra Valley, from Kinglake, and from the suburbs of Melbourne. Tourist operators are particularly concerned that the wanton destruction of this beautiful forest and Healesville’s skyline will affect the experience of visitors to the area.
Residents who went through the Black Saturday fires are disgusted that VicForests has dramatically increased its logging operations in the remaining unburned forest around Toolangi and Mount St Leonard, a last haven for endangered species like the Sooty Owl and Leadbeater’s Possum.
“The logging of Mount St Leonard is not just scarring the landscape, it is psychologically scarring the community,” said Deanne Bail, local resident and tourism operator. “It is a repeat trauma for those people who lived through the terrifying fires.”
Last week, 31 people, many of them locals in their sixties and seventies, were arrested for refusing to leave an active logging coupe on Mount St Leonard.