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"Kuark forest"

Kuark forest after the fires

The old growth forest of Kuark is (I can’t bring myself to say ‘was’) a jewel in the wild landscape of East Gippsland. It provides habitat for threatened species such as the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls, Greater gliders and Long footed potoroos, and is a rare rainforest type where warm and cool temperate rainforest blend together in an ‘over lap’ assemblage.

There was a long campaign, led by Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) and The Wilderness Society to see the Kuark protected. It had considerable success, and was scheduled to be fully protected under a Bill in parliament to include Kuark in the Errinundra National Park.

Then this summer happened. I watched in horror as parts of the legendary Errinundra Plateau burnt and the rainforests of Martins Creek were devastated. I hadn’t heard news of the Kuark until now.

Ed Hill led the campaign to protect the Kuark forest. He has been up there recently. This is his report.

Continue reading “Kuark forest after the fires”

Protection for some of Kuark forest a welcome first step

Following a long community campaign, the Andrews government that it will increase protection of the Kuark forest in East Gippsland.

As part of the extension of the Victorian Regional Forests Agreements (RFAs), the government has announced protection for the Kuark forest. The Kuark is a classic ecotone forest that exists on the interface between the cooler forest types of Gippsland and the sub tropical forests that stretch up the eastern seaboard. There are plans to create a ‘coast to mountains’ walking trail through this forest.

Spokesperson for the Goongerah Environment Centre Office (GECO), Ed Hill, said “we welcome the government’s announcement that parts of the Kuark forest will now be protected. This is a good step in the right direction and we look forward to working with the government to ensure the Kuark forest is formally incorporated into the Errinundra National Park along with other forest areas of high environmental value, within this term of government.

“Today’s announcement does not provide full protection for the iconic Kuark forest, some areas have not been included, we will continue to advocate and campaign for their protection.”

The full reaction from GECO can be found here and Friends of the Earth here. The minister’s announcement is here.

Kuark forest protected through Court injunction

The Kuark forest is located in far East Gippsland, Victoria. This magnificent forest is home to rare rainforest and endangered animals. Sections of it are currently on logging schedules and could be cut at any moment. An access track has been cut into the first coupe.

In response, campaigners have set up a camp in the forest to oppose logging. In response, the Victorian government announced it would increase the protection given to old growth forests, but activists are not prepared for any of the coupe to be logged.

On Wednesday November 1st, a Supreme Court injunction has prevented logging from starting in the forest. Campaigners are celebrating this temporary protection.

Further information is available on the GECO website.

Kuark forest old growth about to be logged

Kuark forest is located in far East Gippsland, Victoria. This magnificent forest is home to rare rainforest and endangered animals.

Logging of Kuark forest has previously destroyed the habitat of endangered forest Owls, Potoroos and Gliding possums. It’s also impacting on unique rainforest types, found nowhere else on earth. Kuark, which is just south of the Cool Temperate Forests of the Errinundra Plateau, contains stands of Warm temperate species which have evolved from tropical species that colonised Australia millions of years ago when the continent was joined to Papua New Guinea and Asia. These tropical like species slowly migrated down the east coast and East Gippsland is the most southerly extent of many of their distributional ranges (you can find additional information on the Kuark here and previous Mountain Journal stories are here).

VicForests is currently preparing to log some of the most spectacular old growth forest remaining in Victoria, wit logging equipment being moved into the coupe this week.

Continue reading “Kuark forest old growth about to be logged”

Protecting the Kuark forest

The spectacular old growth forest of Kuark in East Gippsland provides habitat for threatened species such as the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls, Greater gliders, Long footed potoroos and a rare rainforest type where warm and cool temperate rainforest blend together in an ‘over lap” assemblage.

The state owned logging company VicForests plan on conducting extensive clear fell logging operations in the forest this year and local conservationists are getting organised to halt the proposed destruction.

Victorian conservation group, Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) are stepping up their efforts to protect these forests from logging. The group have launched a citizen science program and public campaign to collect data and publicise the Kuark forest in the far east of Victoria.

Check here for the full story.

The Kuark forest

Kuark forestVictorian conservation group, Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) are stepping up their efforts to protect East Gippsland’s old growth forests from logging. The group have launched a citizen science program and public campaign to collect data and publicise the Kuark forest in the far east of Victoria.

The old growth forest of Kuark provides habitat for threatened species such as the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls, Greater gliders, Long footed potoroos and a rare rainforest type where warm and cool temperate rainforest blend together in an ‘over lap” assemblage.

Kuark forest3The state owned logging company VicForests plan on conducting extensive clear fell logging operations in the forest this year and local conservationists are getting organised to halt the proposed destruction.

Areas within Kuark forest are currently subject to a Supreme Court case run by Environment East Gippsland (EEG). EEG are suing the Victorian government and VicForests for failing to meet their legal obligations to protect sufficient areas of good quality habitat for the Sooty, Masked and Powerful owls.

The law states that a minimum area of good quality habitat must be set-aside in reserves, however the Department of Environment Lands, Water and Planning (DELWP) are failing to meet these requirements. To make matters worse, large fires in 2014 burnt 46 of the protected owl zones causing a reduction in roost sites and prey species such as possums and gliders.

EEG wrote to the Environment Minister under the previous Liberal government asking for a review of the protected zones to replace habitat that was lost in the fires. The Minister refused the request and so papers were filed in the Supreme Court. EEG is seeking a Court order for the owl zones to be reviewed and additional areas placed into reserves to replace habitat lost in the fires.

Kuark forest2

There are 81 areas of forest that VicForests have planned clear-fell logging operations where Owls have been detected. These areas of prime habitat are now subject to a logging moratorium until the end of June as they could be critical for the survival of the three owl species.

DELWP and VicForests may be in breach of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, the East Gippsland Forest Management Plan, Action Statements for the Large Forest Owls, the Code of Forest Practices, the Precautionary Principle, the Sustainable Forests Act, the Forests Act, conditions in the Allocation Order and conditions in the Amended Timber Release Plan.

Volunteer field ecologists from Goongerah Environment Centre and Environment East Gippsland have been surveying proposed logging areas for the presence of the three species of owls, using play call back megaphones, GPS and cameras to detect their presence. These detections can be used as evidence in the Supreme Court case.

“VicForests pre logging surveys are woefully inadequate and often non existent, so it is really important that groups like ours are out there in the forest surveying for threatened species to hold the government accountable to their own laws and ensure threatened species are given the legal protection granted to them under State legislation.” Said GECO spokesperson Ed Hill.

“We are the eyes and ears of the forest and although we can’t be everywhere, by keeping an eye on logging operations and threatened species habitat we can prevent some of the destruction and safeguard the future of these forests.”

“Vic Forests don’t want to know about the threatened species and other special values, like rainforest and giant trees in areas where logging is planned. The presence of these values can reduce the size of logging operations as VicForests are legally obligated to prescribe measures to safeguard these values. So it’s a case of having legal protection for threatened species and prescriptions to maintain habitat but a self-regulating industry that fails to document these values and apply the legally required prescriptions. This is why our citizen science program is so important as we are doing the work the government should be doing to force them to obey their own laws.” Said Ed Hill.

Big River logging

GECO said that ultimately what is needed to ensure a future for threatened forest dependant species is not just adherence to logging prescriptions but further reservation of forests by placing them into secure reserves.

Kuark forest is exceptionally rich in biodiversity. A rare rainforest type occurs where warm temperate and cool temperate rainforest blend together. East Gippsland is a stronghold for ‘overlap’ rainforest and Kuark forest contains some of the best examples in the State. However the rainforest within proposed logging areas doesn’t appear on government mapping and it is appears that VicForests are unaware of its significance.

Volunteer field ecologists from GECO have been mapping the extent of this rainforest type within areas of Kuark forest earmarked for logging. The project is creating a species list to see how the diversity in Kuark forest compares to mapped Rainforest Sites of Significance. GECO surveys have documented the presence of rare slender tree ferns in the moist gullies of proposed logging areas and also the extremely rare skirted tree fern, a hybrid of the slender and rough tree ferns. Prior to GECO’s documentation of these species there were only about 100 records of the slender tree fern in Victoria and the Skirted tree fern was last reported in 1989. GECO’s survey reports on these rare species have been submitted to the government and have added several more records to the State databases. Read more about the rainforest mapping and survey project at the Kuark forest blog http://www.kuarkforest.com

Logging operations in 2013 in Kuark forest have encroached to within just metres of the rare ‘overlap’ rainforest community, which is changing the specialised microclimate required to support it. The edge effects of logging right up to the rainforest are exposing this rare vegetation type to excessive light, heat, greater risk of fire and exposure to wind. Future planned logging operations in the area will continue to impact upon the rainforest of Kuark and threaten the special values that GECO are documenting.

Over the Labour day long weekend in March 2015 a threatened species survey camp was held in the Kuark forests. About 40 people from across Victoria attended and participated in flora and fauna surveying workshops, nocturnal spotlighting, information sessions and bush walks through areas of old growth forest scheduled for logging.

Kuark forest4Campaigner Dave Caldwell said, “people who made the long journey out here over the weekend were shocked that Vic Forests would want to destroy such a unique forest like Kuark. There are few places left in Victoria where you get old growth Eucalyptus forest full of giant trees, rare rainforest in the gullies and several species of threatened fauna all occurring together.”

“There was a really positive and pro active vibe over the weekend, with lots of enthusiastic people getting informed, active and inspired to join the campaign to protect East Gippsland’s forests’. Said Dave Caldwell.

Goongerah Environment Centre’s work is not just limited to remote field studies in the wild forests; they are also becoming increasingly media and tech savvy. A blog site has been launched by the group, telling the story of Kuark forest and the citizen science conducted in the area. They’ve also started an online petition to the Victorian Environment Minister, Lisa Neville MP and a crowd funding campaign to fund their efforts to protect Kuark forest from logging.

More survey weekends and open days to explore the threatened forests of Kuark are planned throughout the year. Check out the links below to stay updated and get in touch for more info.

geco.media@gmail.com

For further information:

www.kuarkforest.com

Support their petition:

https://www.change.org/p/lisa-neville-mp-minister-for-the-environment-protect-east-gippsland-s-forests

Please support their crowd fundraiser:

http://www.pozible.com/project/193507

 

 

Are Errinundra’s rainforests now burning?

The fires across East Gippsland this summer have had devastating impacts on land and forests, waterways and native species, local economies and people’s lives and properties.

One glimmer of good news has been the fact that many of the cool temperate rainforest strong holds have been spared from much of the fire. Most of the famed Kuark forest has not burnt (or has possibly been ‘burnt lightly’ according to reports from the field), and the Errinundra Plateau has been spared any major fires. It appears that the Goolengook rainforest has been partially burnt. (Extra info here).

But now there are reports that back burning operations were carried out several days ago between the VIC/NSW border and the Errinundra Plateau, in order to save the Bondi pine plantations in southern NSW. Yesterday (JAN 30) in the 40 degree heat, the fires from these spotted across the Coast Range Road into the most valuable area of the Errinundra national park. The scale of these fires is not yet known.

We will update as additional information comes to hand.

[With thanks to Jill Redwood for this information]

Continue reading “Are Errinundra’s rainforests now burning?”

Victorian government protects Old Growth forests

In a major announcement, the Andrews government has stated that it will ‘immediately’ protect all remaining old growth forest on the east of the state as part of a plan to phase out native forest logging and protect 96,000 hectares of forests. The old growth areas amounts to 90,000 hectares of mountain and foothill forests.

Environmental groups such as Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have welcomed the announcement and also called for the release of extra detail and maps to ensure the announcement results in lasting and effective protection.

This outcome is especially good news for the heartland of remaining old growth – the hill country of East Gippsland.

Continue reading “Victorian government protects Old Growth forests”

East Gippsland old growth forest blockade continues for second week

The following update comes from Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO).

Conservationists are continuing to blockade an old growth forest logging operation at Granite Mountain in remote East Gippsland today. The blockade was established on Monday January 22nd, and has halted logging in the contentious area for seven consecutive days. Fifteen people are maintaining a presence on the site today, one person is positioned in a hammock suspended from a tripod structure that is blocking the access road to logging operation.
Continue reading “East Gippsland old growth forest blockade continues for second week”

Summer of Citizen Science and Forest Defence

Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO), based in a mountain valley in far east Gippsland, is organising two weeks of ‘citizen science’ and a range of activities intended to protect the native forests of the region.

It runs from Friday, December 4 until Friday, December 18.

Continue reading “Summer of Citizen Science and Forest Defence”

Mountain Journal highlights – March 2020

This summer it was all about fires. Then, as the mountains started to open up and the weather cooled down, along came the Coronavirus, and things are locked down again.

Here is the monthly summary of key stories that have been featured on Mountain Journal. Enjoy.

Continue reading “Mountain Journal highlights – March 2020”

What are the ecological costs of this summer’s fires?

In late November, fires started in East Gippsland as a result of lightning strikes. As noted by Peter Gardner, these went on to become major blazes. On new year’s eve, lightning storms started fires across the Victorian mountains and fire season came to the Alps with a vengeance.

Since then, huge areas of the Victorian Alps and Snowy Mountains have burnt. As at January 14, many of these are still going and, of course, the key priority is containing them.

But once it’s all over, we will need to count the ecological cost of these fires. Some areas in the Alps have now burnt three times in about 15 years. There is no doubt that longer fire seasons, driven by climate change, are already impacting on mountain and foothill environments.

The short answer at this stage is that we just don’t know what the full ecological impacts of these fires will be.

The following is a fairly random collection of reports on local impacts of the fires on mountain areas. It focuses on ecological values and impacts. Of course, this does not mean that human and economic impacts don’t matter. The narrow focus here is simply to try and share some information about what the impacts will be on natural systems, as the other stories are already being told widely in mainstream media. It will be added to as areas are re-opened to the public. I would welcome your reports for inclusion: please email text and stories to cam.walker@foe.org.au

Continue reading “What are the ecological costs of this summer’s fires?”

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