Legal action has forced state logging agency VicForests to suspend logging in the Kuark forest in far east Gippsland for at least a month.
The environment group Flora and Fauna Research Collective sought an injunction in the Supreme Court to prevent logging in the Princess Cut coupe north of Orbost.
The group was asked to put forward a detailed case for protection of the old growth forest at a court hearing next month.
This area contains large tracts of intact old growth forest that have never been logged before, said Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Danya Jacobs.
Most Victorians would be shocked to hear that the Environment Department is of the view that it does not have legal obligations to protect the state's old growth forests.
VicForests maintained the logging program complied with regulations.
We believe our operation complies with the regulatory framework governing timber harvesting in Victoria, a VicForests spokesperson said in a statement.
We look forward to the court clarifying obligations in regards to this.
This legal action came as a forest blockade continued, with conservationists protesting against old growth logging in the area.
The Kuark Forest is in a remote area of eastern Victoria. The closest town is Orbost, a community which has an economy built on the timber industry, agriculture and tourism.
Conservationists said some eucalypts in the forest were more than 500 years old.
Logging was due to start on Wednesday but VicForests postponed its operations.
In response to community concerns, additional areas in the Princess Cut coupe in East Gippsland have been excluded from harvesting and very large trees are being protected, a VicForests spokesperson said in a statement.
Operations have been suspended in this coupe while legal proceedings are underway.
VicForests' intention is to commence timber harvesting operations in this coupe when conditions are suitable and legal proceedings are resolved.
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio sent a tweet earlier this week, outlining that trees with a diameter of greater than 2.5 metres would be protected in the Princess Cut coupe in the Kuark forest.
It's not just about the old trees, there is a requirement that the understory cluster associated with habitat trees will also be protected, [with the] understanding that trees on their own don't tell the full story of what goes on in forests, she said.
There's a lot of passion about old growth forests in the area we are talking about.
Environmentalists said the move to protect trees with a diameter of greater than 2.5 metres did not go far enough, arguing the wider ecosystem where these trees grew needed protection.
Forestry compliance officers with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning would inspect the Princes Cut coupe this week, after more than 6000 people wrote to Ms D'Ambrosio to prevent VicForests harvesting there.
Parliamentary committee recommends plantation transition
Meanwhile, a Victorian parliamentary committee recommended the State Government start planning for the forestry industry's transition to plantation timber.
The Economics and Infrastructure Committee has investigated VicForests' operations since May and had made seven recommendations to the Victorian Government.
It recommended the introduction of more robust oversight of the logging agency to ensure it complies with its legal and environmental obligations.
The committee requested VicForests improve its management of timber contracts to deal with changing timber supply levels.
It also wanted to see an industry transition plan, focusing on the use of plantation timber.
In a statement VicForests said it would work with the government to implement any recommendations it adopted.
Published by ABC News Online on 1 November 2017