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MEDIA RELEASE - MyEnvironment Inc. Environment group heads to court to stop destruction of endangered possum’s home

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

MyEnvironment Inc, a local Yarra Ranges environment group is heading to the courts today in a desperate attempt to stop logging in one of the few high-conservation value forests spared from the horrific Black Saturday bushfires and home to the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.   

A writ to be filed in the Melbourne Supreme Court this morning seeking an injunction against state-owned timber company VicForests to stop logging at Sylvia Creek forest, which has been a hotbed of protest action in the past month.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

MyEnvironment Inc, a local Yarra Ranges environment group is heading to the courts today in a desperate attempt to stop logging in one of the few high-conservation value forests spared from the horrific Black Saturday bushfires and home to the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.   

A writ to be filed in the Melbourne Supreme Court this morning seeking an injunction against state-owned timber company VicForests to stop logging at Sylvia Creek forest, which has been a hotbed of protest action in the past month.

The writ alleges that the logging is unlawful because the area contains habitat for the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, and the iconic Victorian animal is present in the forest, near Toolangi on Melbourne’s north east fringe.

“The Leadbeater’s Possum lost half its habitat in the Black Saturday bushfires, and less than 1000 are thought to survive,” said MyEnvironment spokesperson Sarah Rees.

“With so many challenges disadvantaging our tiny possum, how can we simply sit by and permit logging to be its final death knell?”

“Many of our members lost homes, friends and livestock in the fires, logging the home of this little bushfire survivor is too much, and it reflects a side of our government that has lost touch with local needs.

“We’re taking this legal action after an exhaustive consultation process with VicForests has failed to stop logging. The science is telling us if we persist with logging these forests extinction will take place. The local community cannot live with that.”

Local residents and conservationists have been peacefully trying to slow the destruction at Sylvia Creek over the past month, and at least 14 people have been arrested at the site.

“Ordinary Victorians shouldn’t have to take such drastic action to protect the State’s wildlife emblem from extinction, so we’re asking the court to intervene and force VicForests to abide by the law.”

If VicForests refuses to withdraw the bulldozers from the site, the conservationists will ask the court to hold an emergency hearing and impose an interlocutory injunction to immediately halt logging operations.

According to the writ to be filed with the court, logging at Sylvia Creek breaches several state laws and guidelines.

“Logging of Leadbeater’s possum habitat breaches the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, the Code of Forest Practice, the Sustainable Forests Act and the Central Highlands Forest Management Plan,” lawyer for My Environment, Vanessa Bleyer said.

Ms Bleyer also acted for Environment East Gippsland in their successful challenge against VicForests logging operations at Brown Mountain.

“The Brown Mountain case showed that VicForests must respect endangered species laws.  The law made in that case will be relevant to this case,” she said.