Conservationists attempt to halt logging by VicForests of old-growth forest near Melbourne, Australia, to protect endangered possum, say trees will be chipped to make paper

FITZROY, Australia , July 18, 2011 (press release) – Conservationists will try to halt work today on a contentious logging operation at Sylvia Creek – an old growth forest that is home to endangered Leadbeaters possums, near Toolangi one hour from Melbourne.

Protesters will walk into the logging exclusion zone to stop the destruction of one of the few old forests in the area that survived the Black Saturday bushfires.

One hundred community members held a protest at the site on Sunday, before logging began, and decided to continue the campaign using peaceful direct action to protect this high conservation value area.

State-owned timber-company VicForests is due to start logging at Sylvia Creek on Monday, and has closed the forest access road.

"This is one of the few old forests in this district that weren’t burnt out during the Black Saturday bushfires, but now it could be destroyed as well." said spokesperson for local group ‘My Environment’ Sarah Rees.

"This precious area includes towering old growth mountain ash trees that are home to the endangered Leadbeater’s possum – Victoria’s animal emblem."

"There are less than 1000 of these tiny animals left, we can’t afford to keep pushing them towards extinction."

"Most of these ancient trees will be wood-chipped to make Reflex paper, it’s a disgraceful waste when we could be using plantation timber to supply all the paper we need,” said Wilderness Society forest campaigner Luke Chamberlain.

"We’re calling on the state government to protect Victoria's native forests for the sake of our wildlife, and to preserve these vital stores of ‘green carbon’."

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