By Jed Lanyon
An environmentalist group that halted logging operations in an act of protest has been removed by police.
One member of Forest Conservation Victoria (FCV) suspended themselves 20 metres high to a tree on a platform attached to logging machinery in a Toolangi logging coupe on Monday 2 September.
Police arrived later on Tuesday 3 September to arrest a protestor suspended up in the tree, bringing the protest to an end, according to a Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) spokesperson.
FCV said they aimed to prevent logging operations of vital threatened species habitat and old growth forest along the Murrindindi River in Toolangi.
The Office of the Conservation Regulator has since taken to social media on Friday 6 September to issue a response to the reported Sooty Owl sightings.
“We’ve received a report of a Sooty Owl adjacent to Mr Ed Coupe in the Toolangi State Forest and are currently undertaking verification to support a zoning decision.
“While this occurs we have instructed VicForests to avoid harvesting in the area of the sighting.”
According to FCV, the area is reported to be high quality Leadbeater’s Possum habitat featuring a significant density of hollow-bearing trees within the proposed logging site.
FCV said that Greater Gliders and a Sooty Owl had also been detected within the logging area.
Both of these species are listed as being vulnerable to extinction.
FCV member Sarah McConnell said, “Australia has one of the worst extinction rates of any country in the world… The Victorian government needs to show leadership in the fight against extinction by protecting this critical area from destructive logging operations.”
VAFI CEO Tim Johnston wants the government to send a strong message to protestors that their actions should have serious consequences.
“The contractor, Brad Meyer, and his crew of three, all have to deal with a loss of income despite amendments to the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act in 2014 which gave the industry hope that new regulations would prevent such protests.
“This is the fifth time in as many months that this contractor has had to endure this unacceptable action.”
VAFI contractor Chris Stafford said “We are contracted by the government to do our job and when protests happen, the government turns its back on us.
“Every day we all turn up wondering if it’s our turn to be targeted, and I constantly stress about the impact this has on my staff and those in the industry just trying to make a living.”