Activists have defied what they say is are “draconian” Victorian laws, taking to different bush areas statewide to survey for protected species on the same day the legislation came into effect. The environmental activists gathered at five sites as the Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment Act came into effect on Saturday. The act gives authorised officers additional powers to issue banning notices in restricted worksites where forestry activities are being undertaken. Protesters risk fines of more than $20,000, or up to one year in jail, if they enter these zones and interfere with workers or their machinery. The Victorian government passed the act in 2022 citing protection of logging workers, but it has drawn criticism from unions, environmental activists and legal voices across the country. Nearly 200 environmental activists made a stand at the Wombat, Toolangi and Alberton West state forests, as well as Powelltown and Colquhoun forests.