A win for our forests

TOURISM has outweighed forestry after South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday voted to back the Mirboo North community’s campaign to save forests from logging.
Council will oppose VicForests’ proposal to log 112ha of state forest north of the township, including around Lyrebird Forest Walk.
Councillors agreed to the notice of motion by councillors Don Hill and Andrew McEwen to support the community’s opposition, and to advocate for the preservation and enhancement of forests in the Strzelecki Ranges.
Cr Aaron Brown said tourism’s economic return to the shire far outweighed logging’s, with tourism worth $16 million a year to Mirboo North alone.
“There are not many areas around where we have a pristine environment and what we have at Mirboo North is pretty special and we need to preserve that,” he said, to applause from the gallery.
Cr Maxine Kiel, from Mirboo North, said 90 percent of residents came to the town for the hills and the forests.
“To log the forest so close to our town would severely impact the forests,” she said, to further applause from the gallery.
Cr Ray Argento said only 112ha would be logged at Mirboo North and said that would not benefit the shire’s economy.
Cr Hill said the motion was about “engagement with the community and representing the community”.
“We do not have a lot of trees in South Gippsland anymore and we have to protect the ones we have got,” he said.
Cr Hill said the State Government should be supporting the development of plantations to satisfy the state’s timber needs.
“We do need to act to change policy on a state level,” he said.
Cr Andrew McEwen said only 1.5 percent of the original Strzelecki Forest remained and it was vital for biodiversity and to ensure the town’s water quality.
Grand Ridge Brewery could relocate if water became contaminated and unsuitable for brewing, due to logging.
Cr McEwen said up to 170 jobs in the Mirboo North area were at risk should logging proceed, given the town’s reliance on tourism.
Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said VicForests was a legitimate business and the logging coupes had been set aside for forestry for 50 years.
“It’s not the role of local council to decide on the issue of logging. It’s a State Government issue. Let’s not send a negative message from Mirboo North,” she said.
Cr Brunt said she would hate to see pine plantation surround the town and noted forestry generated “huge” dollars. She knows, given her family were logging contractors in East Gippsland.
Cr Meg Edwards was “torn”, saying if council advocated on the logging issue, it would be asked by the community to take a stance on all state and federal issues.

Backing the community: South Gippsland Shire councillors Don Hill (left with tie) and Andrew McEwen (right with branches), join members of the Preserve Our Forests Steering Committee after council last Wednesday voted to advocate for the protection of state forest at Mirboo North from logging.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=24581

Posted by on Apr 4 2018. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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