• Gippsland. Edward Wilson/Unsplash
    Gippsland. Edward Wilson/Unsplash

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Victoria's West Gippsland region to rally against a proposal to turn several state forests northeast of Melbourne into a national park.

Under the proposal, large areas of the Central Highlands state forests could be turned into a protected national park.

According to the ABC, the proposal was put forward by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC), which was engaged by the previous Minister for Environment, Ingrid Stitt.

Those who attended the rally in Drouin on Sunday raised concerns they would be "locked out" of these areas if they went ahead.

They said access to activities like bushwalking, 4WDing, hunting, fishing and camping could be restricted.

Victoria's Minister for Environment Steve Dimopoulos said the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) report was only one part of the process.

"No decision on the future use of state forests in the Central Highlands has been made," he told the ABC.

"Conversations from the recent community engagement sessions and interest groups will also form part of the Eminent Panel's recommendation to the government, which is expected in June."

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