Tree advocates with leaves in their hair have flocked to a Melbourne court as they fight to stop logging in old-growth Victorian forests, saying the future of native wildlife is at risk.
About a dozen forest defenders filled the Supreme Court on Tuesday for a trial brought by the Fauna and Flora Research Collective against VicForests to save areas earmarked for logging in East Gippsland.
Among them was St Andrews woman Karena Goldfinch, who had a green leaf arrangement pinned to her hair in solidarity with the trees.
"These forests need protection. We can't afford to cut them down," she said outside court.
"Old-growth trees are what is important for the legacy of wildlife."
She urged the authority in charge to shifts its focus to plantation forests.
"My message to VicForests is it's time to stop logging native forests, and direct your efforts towards plantation timber," Ms Goldfinch said.
"We know most of these trees go to making paper. That's rubbish."
Hollow-bearing trees in these old-growth forests take about 120 years to form hollows, where native wildlife live, Ms Goldfinch said.
"So when you keep cutting them down, there goes your habitat," she said.
"You've got the decline in species such as the greater glider, nesting sites for birds, all the wildlife that depend on hollows."
In the court case, FFRC claims VicForests and the Department of Environment have failed to meet their obligations to protect at least 60 per cent of old-growth forest in the area.
Logging and fires have ravaged these forests to a point where further logging in certain areas would be unlawful under the forest management plan, the collective argues.
They are seeking Supreme Court orders to protect 34 areas, having already halted planned logging with the court action.
The trial before Justice Andrew Keough involves arguments around forest data and modelling, and comparing historical assessments with the present.
It began in December and is set to wrap up this week, with a judgment expected in the coming months.
Community group Goongerah Environment Centre Office also joined the call for the logging to stop, citing their ecological uniqueness and their value in fighting climate change.
"It is incredibly irresponsible of the government to allow the continued destruction of our carbon-storing forests," GECO spokesman Dave Caldwell said.
Australian Associated Press