Members of one of Dargo’s oldest cattle grazing families have joined forces with East Gippsland conservationists to oppose logging on the High Plains.
The Treasure family has grazed cattle around Dargo for 140 years and is shocked at plans to log mature trees in the area.
The Advertiser has been told one section has already been logged in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River.
Fourth generation cattlewoman, Christa Treasure, said: “This is our home. We can’t bear to think this place will be destroyed forever”.
“Emily Treasure, our great-grandmother, was the first in the family to hold a grazing lease on the Dargo High Plains in the 1880s and we have had leases up here ever since.”
Ms Treasure, along with younger sister, Rhonda, older brother, Bruce, and Ms Treasure’s partner, mountain cattleman, Ray Anderson, have teamed up with two local groups - Gippsland Environment and Environment East Gippsland to stop VicForests continuing with further logging on the High Plains.
John Hermans, from Environment East Gippsland, said of the alliance with the graziers: “We may not agree on everything, but we stand rock solid on this issue”.
“Grazing was banned from the Alpine National Park due to the impacts on the fragile alpine ecology, yet the State Government is fully behind allowing 40 tonne bulldozers to obliterate Alpine Ash forests back to bare ground,” Mr Hermans said.
Louise Crisp, of Gippsland Environment Group, said after last summer’s bushfires “every patch of unburnt forest is more precious than ever for our remaining native animals”.
Ray Anderson said the Jones Creek Forest remained “a critical unburnt natural buffer to the national park”.
“This mature forest is like a Noah’s Ark, a refuge for wildlife,” he said.
The unlikely alliance of conservationists and graziers has written to the Office Conservation Regulator (OCR) and the VicForests Board.
None have confidence in the State Government’s system to investigate complaints of logging breaches.
In a statement, VicForests, which is the State Government’s logging agency, said the harvesting was “essential to restore supply into timber processers that have been significantly impacted by supply constraints during 2020”
A VicForests spokesperson said VicForests was not aware “of any evidence to support the allegation that its harvesting activities will seriously degrade water quality and quantity, nor present downstream impacts”.
In relation to concerns that VicForests is logging old growth forest, the spokesperson said “old growth assessments are completed at every coupe and if identified, excluded from harvesting”.
The new alliance claims the forests should be correctly assessed as old growth and critical habitat.
Instead it says VicForests never finds any old growth using a controversial new system to identify it.
“Despite VicForests currently defending itself in five separate court cases over logging breaches, it continues to ride roughshod over public forests, communities and we believe, even the law,” Mr Hermans said.
Bruce Treasure, Christa Treasure, Rhonda Treasure, Ray Anderson, John Hermans, Louise Crisp and Robyn Grant in a logging coupe at Jones Creek, looking toward the Little Dargo River. (PS)