Following the hottest ever February on record across the globe, and an extremely hot, dry March in north-east Victoria, Euroa Environment Group has called for an immediate halt to planned burning and logging this year of some of the last stands of mature native forest left in the Strathbogie Ranges.

A new technical analysis commissioned by local conservation groups has estimated that the planned burning of more than 3000 hectares of State Forest this year will release 43 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere – the equivalent of the annual emissions from 22 300 vehicles each driving the national average of 15 500 kilometres each year.

President of the group, Ms Shirley Saywell, said   “the insistence on burning and logging these forests is at odds with the Victorian Government’s pre-election commitments to sustainable forest management and being a national leader in tackling climate change.   Moreover, the burning and logging are having irrevocable impacts on the forest ecosystem and its wildlife by killing and removing many of the last remaining hollow-bearing trees in these forests which provide essential habitat for threatened animals like Powerful Owl and Greater Glider.

“Imagine instead”, said Ms Shirley Saywell “if these precious forests were retained – and not burnt or logged as part of forestry operations –   how much extra carbon would be stored in these growing trees in the next one hundred years.  These mature forests would also provide other important community benefits in terms of our wildlife, water and catchment health.

‘The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority has identified the Strathbogie Ranges as a priority environmental zone within the catchment in terms of its natural capacity to withstand and adapt to climate change.  But this cannot happen if the forests continue to be burnt and logged’.

‘Given the miniscule contribution these forests make to Victoria’s timber industry, compared to the tourism, nature conservation and lifestyle opportunities in the Strathbogie Ranges, we urge the Government to act responsibly.  Large hectare burns in remote forest zones are not strategic and make no sense from a fire risk mitigation perspective. They simply help the Government meet excessive burn targets.”

“This is a great opportunity to show genuine national leadership in tackling climate change and prevent Victoria’s natural carbon stores in the Strathbogie’s forests from needlessly going up in smoke or being converted to pulp and firewood.   With Australia warmer than ever before, now is the time to seize the chance to make a difference to our carbon future, our forests, our catchments and wildlife by placing an immediate moratorium on planned burning and logging of these imperilled forests.”

Media enquiries: Shirley Saywell 0427 246 900 email: saywell500@gmail.com