VicForests faces a Court proceeding brought against it in which injunctions are being sought to prevent operations collecting windthrown timber following the 2021 storms in the Wombat State Forest. Expansion of the plaintiff’s case late last year, means injunctions are now also sought by the plaintiff over other small scale Community Forestry operations, primarily in the Mt Cole, Pyrenees, Cobaw and Enfield State Forests. Licensees are likely to be joined as parties to the proceeding.
VicForests considers that Community Forestry operations cannot continue because of the risk of litigation and the cost it would burden the taxpayer with. The Court is also likely to require a disproportionate survey effort before any operations can occur. VicForests does not consider that it has the capacity to provide coupes to Licensees and to manage Community Forestry operations.
Accordingly, VicForests decided all Community Forestry operations will cease by 5 February 2024.
There are approximately 50 Community Forestry operators across Victoria.
Last year, the Government made an announcement regarding community forestry and firewood support packages. The announcement can be found here.