A threatened owl species would move closer to extinction if Latrobe City approves a proposal to bulldoze a Strzelecki forest reserve.
And Victoria would lose a valuable and endangered old-growth tree area if the destruction was approved.
The state’s peak non-government conservation body, Environment Victoria, urged Latrobe City to reject the proposal to clear up to 700 trees from the Budgeree Road reserve for logging access.
The high-conservation area was home to the threatened powerful owl, which has only 500 breeding pairs left in the state and just 100 in Gippsland, said EV executive director Marcus Godinho.
“Budgeree Road is one of the few remaining damp forest reserves left in the region. It is home to many important species, including the powerful owl and locally-evolved koalas,” he said.
“We believe the state and the environment are best served by keeping the Budgeree Road reserve in tact. Latrobe City must reject this proposal.”
He said EV supported tree removal to ensure road safety but it did not support the destruction of hundreds of trees for timber haulage – particularly in the area between Prosper Valley Road and Pioneer Road.
“This area is far too valuable to clear for logging needs. There is no justification to destroy priceless remnant forest.”
The upgrade of the road was part of a Federal Government-funded project.
But any forest destruction would contravene the State Government’s Native Management Framework, which says clearing is not allowed in areas of very high conservation value, except in exceptional circumstances.
“The Government’s own policy gives Budgeree Road reserve the highest conservation value available in the state,” said Mr Godinho.
“This is a test case for the Bracks Government. If they’re serious about protecting these important areas then they will step in and stop the destruction.
“We will be calling on the State Government to insure road sides of high conservation value are protected in the Strzeleckis and other parts of the state.”