[most recent information at the top, scroll down for earlier posts]

On sunday 10 November, 2013, a young activist called Hannah Patchett launched the beginning of what is intended to be a long term tree sit to highlight the immediate threats to the Leadbeaters Possum through continued destruction of its habitat.

969385_10151799133659001_829810885_nKeep up to date via the treehouse facebook page.

Check here for background information.

Friends of the Earth – Media Release

Saturday 9 November 2013

Tomorrow at 12 noon Hannah Patchett will formally launch her time dwelling in Toolangi’s treetops.

The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse has been built 50 metres up into the canopy of an area of forest habitat for the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.

“I’ve chosen to stay in the Little Red Toolangi Treehouse because I want to see real action taken to save the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction,” says Hannah Patchett.

“Removing clearfell logging from these forests is the first step.”

Logging of the remaining unburnt forest area following the 2009 bush fires has become increasingly controversial, and the subject of extensive community opposition.

Today the Toolangi forest continues to be logged, mostly for pulp for paper.

Leading expert on the Leadbeater’s Possum, Professor David Lindenmayer, has called for an end to clearfell logging by the end of 2013.

“The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse is a vital and brave initiative to protect the Leadbeater’s Possum habitat that the Napthine state government continues to log against expert recommendations,” says spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, Lauren Caulfield.

“Friends of the Earth support Hannah’s efforts because like her, our organisation and our supporters want implementation of management changes our forests so desperately need,” says Lauren.

“As it stands current industrial scale clearfelling will see our wildlife emblem managed into extinction’,” says Lauren.

“Real and urgent action must be taken to protect the Leadbeater’s Possum and its forest habitat from logging.”

“Forestry Minister Peter Walsh and environment Minister Ryan Smith must ensure the new management recommendations laid out by Professor Lindenmayer are implemented if the Leadbeater’s Possum is to stand a chance,” concludes Lauren.

What: Launch of the Little Red Toolangi Treehouse
Photo opportunity: Little Red Toolangi Treehouse from the ground, or assisted ascend to tree platform
When: From 12 noon, Sunday 10 November
Where: Toolangi State Forest – contact Amelia Young for directions 0404 074 577

September 16, 2013    
Action Alert: Protesters have gone into Nolans Gully. There’s a Possum in a tree sit tied off to three machines holding off the destruction of our beautiful forest and a support crew on the ground.


Local conservationists step in to protect Leadbeater’s Possum habitat targeted by state government loggers at Nolan’s Gully

971441_687996031230317_409246317_nKnown forest habitat for the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum is today being highlighted by conservationists as state government loggers, VicForests, continues to allow bulldozers in the Toolangi State Forest.

Fifteen conservationists are protesting on the ground in the logging area at Nolan’s Gully, while a female aborist is suspended in a tree-sit rigged to both logging machinery and to a towering sixty metre tall Mountain Ash tree – the species of tree that is home of the Leadbeater’s Possum.

“If the Napthine government is serious about protecting Victoria’s animal emblem from extinction by logging, they would immediately suspend all logging operations in known Leadbeater’s habitat,” says Wilderness Society (Victoria) Community Campaigner, Kevi Sanyu.

“Significant areas of Toolangi State Forest miraculously didn’t burn in the 2009 bushfires. It is a known refuge for the Leadbeater’s Possum. Yet today the Napthine government allows the area to be logged, primarily for woodchips.”

Leading expert on the Leadbeater’s Possum, Professor David Lindenamyer has called for an end to clearfell logging in Mountain Ash forests by December 2013.

Image: Michael Nardella
Image: Michael Nardella

“Professor David Lindenmayer has released new management prescriptions outlining the steps that need to be taken to rescue the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction. These should be implemented without delay,” says Lauren Caulfield of Friends of the Earth, speaking in support of the Central Highlands Action Group.

This week saw the much-awaited public release of the Arthur Rylah Institute’s report on threatened species in Victoria.

“The science shows 177,000 hectares of unlogged forest is required to ensure the adult population of female Leadbeater’s Possum has a less than 10 per cent chance of falling below 200 females,” says Kevi Sanyu.

“It’s obvious that the era of logging our native forests for woodchips is over, or we risk losing our state emblem.”

Surveys showing the prevalence of hollow-bearing trees – prime and critical habitat for Leadbeater’s Possums – have been submitted to government.

“The Flora and Fauna Research Collective is now seeking legal advice as the response from government to their surveys was unsatisfactory; the logging of Nolan’s Gully forest went ahead, despite clear evidence of suitable Leadbeater’s Possum habitat,” says Lauren Caulfield.

“It is a gross dereliction for the state’s environment minister, Ryan Smith, not to be taking effective and immediate action to protect known Leadbeater’s habitat in Nolan’s Gully from logging,” says Lauren Caulfield.

“The Napthine government seems intent on allowing the state’s mascot to be logged towards extinction. Should the Abbott government establish a new Threatened Species Commissioner as promised, it appears Victoria’s animal emblem will require the Commissioner’s immediate attention,” concluded Lauren Caulfield.

For comment
Lauren Caulfield, Friends of the Earth 0408 748 939
Kevi Sanyu, the Wilderness Society (Victoria) 0402 935 410

Image: Central Highlands Action Group

August 2012

Blockades have been ongoing. On August 15, two people locked onto logging equipment. According to Central Highlands Action Group:

“There are two people locked onto a harvester at Leos Foot, Toolangi.. I’d like to say its a good morning but we’ve all just been assaulted by a few log truck drivers. Lock ons are hanging in there. One wallaby down, hit in the face. Three wallabies shaken but not hurt. Come on down and show your support if you can.”

The police eventually arrrived, there were two arrests (the lock ons) and a number of others were charged on summons.

For details, check the CHAG Facebook page.

the lock-ons, 15/8/12.

June 2012

Check here for the most recent commentary on whats been happening at Toolangi.

National Logging Crisis

Media Release
15 Februrary 2012

Ten people are halting logging operations in Victoria’s Central Highlands today, as part of a global 24 hours of action for the promised protection of Tasmania’s forests.

Today is Miranda Gibson’s 63rd day in her ‘ObserverTree‘, 60 meters high in one of Tasmania’s oldest forests – which continue to be logged despite protection promises under the Tasmanian Peace Deal. Today, world-wide actions are taking place in support of her efforts, which represent the longest period spent in a tree-sit in Australia’s history.

“I am 100% committed to staying up here to draw attention to the continued destruction of these world-class forests, and the broken promise of the Australian and Tasmanian governments. This ancient tree that I’m sitting was ear-marked for protection. Now, due to Ta Ann’s demand for wood sourced from these high conservation value forests, this area is under immediate threat,” said Ms Gibson.
Today’s action comes at a crucial time in the history of Victoria’s own logging-industry, during the last days of evidence in a Melbourne Supreme Court challenge to the legality of logging in habitat for the Endangered Leadbeater’s possum at Toolangi.

‘This area of Toolangi state forest is an important refuge for the endangered Leadbeater’s possum – Victoria’s faunal emblem,’ said Central Highlands Action Group spokesperson, Emma-Jayne Heather. “We are acting to halt logging while the court determines the issue of protecting habitat for the species.”

However, while the case proceeds, the Baillieu Government is also pressing to exempt future logging operations from state wildlife legislation. “This means that even if we can provide absolute proof that a critically endangered bird or animal is residing in an area which they want to log, they can exempt logging operations from protection requirements under state law, and log anyway.‘ said Ms Heather.
‘This week’s events are indicative of a national logging situation that is reaching crisis point, said spokesperson, Lauren Caulfield.

‘It is time that federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke step in to address the logging crisis nationally. Every forested state in the country is embroiled in a long term battle to protect our world-class forests from rampant logging, and it is time the Federal Government intervenes.”

‘Tasmanian forests that are meant to be under protection continue to be logged, while in Victoria, community groups must take action in the courts to force Vicforests to abide by state wildlife laws,” she said. “This situation is mirrored in WA and NSW, where essential areas of dwindling habitat for threatened species are currently being logged.”

“Mr Burke has demonstrated his willingness to use his federal powers with his intervention into the Victorian cattle grazing issue. It is now time he do the same about logging,” said Ms Caulfield.

Today logging machinery in Toolangi state forest is being held immobile via a tree platform. Like Miranda in her Tasmanian treehouse, they say that they will continue to halt the destruction of these world-class forests, until they are protected.

Contact – Emma-Jayne Heather0401 575 613
Lauren Caulfield
0408 748 939

Toolangi coupes shut down in new Lock-on actions

Update JAN 31, 10am.

No work occuring, lock-ons in place. No police or contractors on site.

media release 31 January 2012 Central Highlands Action Group

Protesters have once again brought logging operations to a standstill on Yellowdindi road in Toolangi state forest, to the north of Healesville.

The clear-felling of native forests in the Central Highlands area has caused much controversy over the past year and has been resisted by a range of environmental groups and residents.

Today’s demonstration is one of many in an ongoing campaign to protect the ‘green hole in the black donut’ as it (Toolangi State Forest) has been nicknamed now that it contains some of the only habitat in the central highlands that was not burnt in the black Saturday bush fires.

“The timber industry has been in the spotlight in recent years, with non-stop calls to investigate its ethical and financial viability” said Central Highlands Action Group (CHAG) spokesperson Emma-Jayne Heather.

Australian environmental groups state that there is less than 7% of native forest remaining in Victoria today compared with the year 1812. The group of activists in the coupe this morning believe that what’s left must be protected.

“It’s just crazy that with such a small amount of native forest left, that they continue to clear-fell it” says one Melbourne resident present in the coupe today.

“We have the highest extinction rate in the world of both animal and plant species and that’s directly as a result of loss of habitat – they have no place left to live.”

“If the government don’t care enough to end this destruction-campaign at 7% then exactly when do we change our methods? .. At 2%? .. 1%?  At what point do the figures become shocking enough to say “enough’s enough, we need to prepare for a future in plantations”? I think that we need to make plans for that future today”.

CHAG spokesperson Emma-Jayne Heather says that the individuals occupy the coupe today at great personal expense.

“It costs a lot for us to be here, to try to make the government listen and hopefully change its policies. The average protest costs around $1,000 in non-reusable equipment and sometimes that only holds them off for one day. Not to mention that we’re all taking time off from our jobs every day we’re out here”.

“The alternative though doesn’t bare thinking about. If you’ve realized what is really happening to Australia’s forests and how fast it’s happening then you absolutely must give your all to stop it”.

“I don’t want a future with no animals or fresh air”.

“The figures are scary – the 18 species of endemic mammals that have been lost forever in Australia in these past two centuries actually comprise half of the total global extinctions of mammals that have occurred in historical times”.

Many of the birds and arboreal mammals in Australia area require hollows in which to live. These types of hollows are found mostly in trees which are 120+ years old.

“These types of trees are now incredibly rare  in Victoria and it is for this reason that Victorians are so passionate about protecting forests containing mature-aged trees which will develop these hollows for future generations”.

Today the clear-felling is being held off by two individuals who have their arms locked through the tracks of a log-harvester.

Further comment
Emma-Jayne Heather 0401575613

Residents and activists defending old forests at Toolangi

JAN 17, 2012: For the past two days, more than 30 people from the Central Highlands Action Group (CHAG) and local Toolangi and Healesville residents have been occupying a large logging coupe on Yellowdindi rd in Toolangi state forest.

the tree sit, 16/1/2012

Two 30m tree sits, which are suspended by ropes attached to two log-harvesters and two ‘bunnies’ with their arms locked through the tracks of a third machine have ensured that no clear-felling took place in the coupe on Monday January 16.

Much of the Toolangi forests were burnt in the fires of 2009. One Toolangi local said that “residents are concerned that following the Black Saturday fires in 2009 that clear-fell logging in the area will increase the risk of mega-fires due to the large amount of wood waste which is left behind in coupes. The resulting mono-species regeneration after logging operations is far more combustible than the mature age forests which are being removed. This is a recipe for further fire disasters”. They point to research by eminent forest ecologist Dr David Lindenmayer, which clearly indicates that clear-felling practices in the Central highlands notably increases fire risk and thus threatens the whole region.

Activists also point to other values of the forests: “These forests give us protection against climate change and provide habitat for native fauna which is such a feature of this area.”

This logging of mature forest shows how little older forest remains in the area. A spokeperson for CHAG, Emma-Jayne Heather said  “Toolangi state forest has recently gained the nickname ‘the green hole in the black donut’. This is because it is a comparatively small area of bush land which escaped the 2009 bush fires, making it a last sanctuary for many critically endangered endemic birds and mammals whose numbers further plummeted during the blaze”.

“It is absolutely critical that what is left of the mature native bush in the Central Highlands be protected. Many nature reserves were destroyed in the Black Saturday bush fires and it makes sense that they be supplemented with neighbouring habitat which remains intact. The future of Victorian native plants and mammals depends on it” said one of the activists at Yellowdindi today.

The Yellowdindi coupe is one 8 adjoining coupes, potentially adding up to 250 hectares of denuded land between now and the end of the current 5-year logging schedule.

The protesters hope to hold off the destruction until the government intervenes and commits to providing national park status to the area.

“We have such little mature forest left in this area” said one of the activists “we will regret it forever if we let our heritage slip away”. They have called on the Environment Minister Ryan Smith to visit the coupe and see the situation for himself. The state government must act to protect these forests.

As of Tuesday morning (17/1/12) police and DSE crews have attended and the activists are likely to be removed shortly. There were three arrests that day.

On thursday January 19, the group re-entered the coupe and set up another tree sit, connected to 5 pieces of machinery. Details here.


For further information, check the Facebook page of Central Highlands Action Group.