The Allan Government has been urged to stop taxpayer-funded logging and create promised legislated parks in regional Victoria.
Over 60 state, national and international groups, joined by prominent individuals, have signed an open letter to Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan, calling for an immediate end to the destruction of precious wildlife and habitat.
The letter will be published in full-page newspaper advertisements in Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine, Moorabool, Daylesford and Macedon.
The Victorian Government's 2021 pledge to legislate national parks in the region is more than two years overdue.
While the government has decided to end native forest logging in the state's east, VicForests still has over 60,000 hectares in the west open for logging.
Habitat, plants and threatened animals like the Powerful Owl, Brush-tailed Phascogale and Mt Cole Grevillea risk becoming locally extinct if logging goes ahead.
The groups are calling on the Allan Government to:
• Halt the taxpayer-funded destruction of our natural heritage and end native forest logging statewide
• Legislate the promised Wombat-Lerderderg, Mount Buangor and Pyrenees national parks
• Stop all firewood harvesting in the Wellsford Forest and include it in the Greater Bendigo National Park
• Enact formal protections promised for the nature-rich Cobaw Conservation Park, and other regional parks and conservation reserves
Victorian National Parks Association Executive Director Matt Ruchel said:
"A new Premier means a fresh start for protecting Victorian nature.
"Precious habitats and endangered animals are at risk every day we wait for a 2021 commitment to gather more dust.
"We already live in the most cleared state in Australia. We know what the cost of further inaction is – the irreversible destruction of some of Victoria’s most precious remaining natural habitat.
“We’re talking about the survival of a raft of threatened plants and animals, such as Powerful Owl, Greater Glider and Mount Cole Grevillea, critters that are already struggling to hold on. A lot of damage has been done in the two and a half years since the government committed to creating these parks.
"Jacinta Allan is from Bendigo and has represented communities in these areas for almost a quarter of a century, so knows all too well how incredible and important these natural places are.
“National parks are not created until they are legislated, we need to get moving.
"In the state's east the government has made the right decision to end native forest logging and the west needs to be aligned and ended on 1 Jan 2024."
Gayle Osborne from Wombat Forestcare, a guardian of the Wombat Forest, near Daylesford said:
“The Wombat Forest provides habitat for a large number of plants and animals that are threatened with extinction. Strong populations of Greater Gliders are found in our lush gullies and the recently discovered endangered Mountain Skink inhabits some of the drier areas. It is critical that the promised Wombat-Lerderderg National Park is legislated immediately to protect all our wildlife from ongoing timber harvesting and other threats”
Wendy Radford, a local from Bendigo and representative from the Wellsford Forest Conservation Alliance said:
“Remember, Jacinta Allan was integral to having the original Bendigo National Park declared. For that we thank her. Now we ask she finish the job. Put the most valuable portion of Wellsford Forest into a national park, as her government’s own independent committee recommended, describing it as “one of the largest, best condition box-ironbark forests in Victoria."
Signatories to the letter include the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, WWF Australia, National Trust Australia (Victoria), the Victorian National Parks Association, Environment Victoria and dozens of local and grassroots organisations.
You can access photos of the areas here.
Matt Ruchel 0418 357 813