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Central Highlands

Riding for the Great Forest National Park

This is a novel way of raising awareness about the proposal for the Great Forest National Park – riding a bike through the forests and posting updates about the amazing things and places to be found in the Central Highlands.

The following comes from Aidan Kempster, writing on their Chuffed page.

Continue reading “Riding for the Great Forest National Park”

The case for a Great Forest National Park

The Great Forest National Park will deliver a secure future for endangered species, has huge potential to safeguard against climate change, and will protect domestic and rural water catchments, a new report shows.

In early December, an alliance of Forest conservation groups have released a report outlining the planning and analysis behind the Great Forest National Park proposal.

Continue reading “The case for a Great Forest National Park”

Review: Mountain Ash: Fire, Logging and the Future of Victoria’s Giant Forests

David Lindenmayer is the renowned specialist on the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum and the Mountain Ash forests that are their home. He has collaborated with other researchers to produce a book which looks at the possums future in light of fires and logging.

While it is expensive (almost $60) it is an incredibly important contribution to our knowledge about these forests. It is available from the CSIRO.

The following review was written by Alex Mullarky, and originally published on the Wild Melbourne website.

Continue reading “Review: Mountain Ash: Fire, Logging and the Future of Victoria’s Giant Forests”

Great Forest National Park. It’s Time.

A playground for Melbourne

Decided this election?

More than 30 environment, conservation, recreation, scientific and citizen science groups representing tens of thousands of Victorians have called on all political parties and candidates in the lead-up to the November 2014 Victorian election to clearly commit to the creation of a new Great Forest National Park in the Central Highlands.

Just 60 kilometres east of Melbourne grow some of the tallest trees on Earth. Their high canopies are home to wildlife such as gliders, owls and the tiny Leadbeater’s Possum.

Continue reading “Great Forest National Park. It’s Time.”

the Great Forest National Park

The Great Forest National Park (GFNP) proposal is a vision for a multi-tiered park system for bush users and bush lovers alike, on Melbourne’s doorstep.

It is a park that will protect and maintain important ecosystem functions critical for the health and well being of all Victorians. The proposal intends to amalgamate a group of smaller parks and add a recreational and ecosystem management plan overlay. The GFNP’s gateway in Healesville is only 60 kilometres from Melbourne’s MCG and stretches from Kinglake through to the Baw Baws and north-east up to Eildon. The proposal is backed by 30 years of research from Laureate Professor David Lindenmayer AO and his team from the Australian National University. The Park proposal adds approximately 355,000 hectares to the current 165,000 hectares in reserve. This will bring Melbourne up to a little over 500,000 hectares of reserve, nearly half the size of Sydney’s reserve system. It is an ambitious project that is gaining momentum by the day.

Continue reading “the Great Forest National Park”

State decision on future of native forest timber industry expected soon

The following is taken from an article in the Herald Sun newspaper written by James Campbell.

CH-Reserve-Proposal-01_articlefullwidth

In the next few weeks the State Government will make a decision which is likely to seal the fates of leadbeater’s possums and Victoria’s native forest timber industry.

Cabinet will soon consider a report from an advisory group which includes such possum-friendly folk as the boss of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries and representatives of VicForests, established to consider ways it can be saved “while maintaining a sustainable timber industry”. The report has gone to Environment Minister Ryan Smith and Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh. What it says, we’ll have to wait and see.

Government sources say that the two men take a different view of what should be done. Smith is believed to support the creation of a Central Highlands National Park to save the possum, while Walsh is prepared to accept a small area be set aside to save the timber industry. His line of argument with his colleagues is expected to be that this is a jobs issue, which in an election year should trump other considerations. The Government claims the industry employs 2300 people, but it is unclear how many of those jobs depend entirely on native forestry, rather than a mixture of native and plantation timber. The largest employer, with 900 jobs, is the Maryvale paper plant, which has indicated in the past it would be happy to shift to chips from plantations. VicForests itself only employs 114 people.

Normally, the smart money would be on “Walshie” to get his way. The Agriculture Minister has earned a reputation for winning internal battles. In a Smith vs. Walsh fight it would be no contest. The wildcard, though, is Treasurer Michael O’Brien and his department. O’Brien is unlikely to be impressed with an industry whose subsidies are retarding the growth of the private enterprise plantation industry. The possum may yet triumph over the loggers.

The full article can be read here.

For details on the proposed Great Forest National Park, check here.

The Herald Sun has some salient points about the finances around the economics of the native forest industry. Should the tax payer continue to subsidise the logging of our native forests potentially at the risk of losing the Leadbeaters Possum?. The article says:

As for VicForests financial statements, the best that can be said for them is that they are not as bad as they used to be.

(In the last year) its net profit was only $802,000 — which, while pretty dismal, is still better than the $96,000 it lost the year before.

VicForests hasn’t paid a dividend to the Victorian Treasury, i.e. the taxpayers, since 2007.

Indeed, it has only managed to pay a dividend twice since it was established in 2004. Across its eight years of existence it has reported an after-tax profit of only $12.3 million. But even that you can take with a grain of salt, as over the same period it has received government grants of $24.7 million.

Law fails to guarantee protection for Victoria’s emblem

This release is from Healesville based MyEnvironment, about the outcome of the recent case seeking protection for the Leadbeaters Possum.

Law fails to guarantee protection for threatened species

IMG_2247_Version_2The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act has never before been tested at the level of Appeal. By taking our case to Appeal we have given the law the best possible opportunity to show whether it can be effective in its stated purpose of GUARANTEEING the survival of unique native species.

In this, the law has failed.

This judgement gives the green light to ongoing destruction of Leadbeater’s Possum habitat in Toolangi State Forest at sites where we have photographic and video confirmation that the species is present. Obviously, this is a disappointing outcome for MyEnvironment but, more importantly, for Leadbeater’s Possum and all other species that rely on the protection of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act for their ongoing survival.

If the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act is incapable of guaranteeing the protection of our state’s faunal emblem against a rapacious logging industry, we have to wonder what, if anything, does it protect?

We call on the state government to urgently review the Act to make it functional and effective in saving threatened species, including the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction.

In the meantime, we call on VicForests and its contractors to demonstrate genuine commitment to their repeated protestations of concern for the survival of Leadbeater’s Possum by properly protecting all sites in logging coupes that contain known colonies of the species, including the three Toolangi coupes that were the subject of this case, where video and photographs of nesting and foraging animals have recently been obtained. Their conduct in coming days and weeks will be a public demonstration of their sincerity and decency.

We shall now take time to study the implications of the judgement for MyEnvironment, the group and its members, and to take advice on future action.

For quotes please call ; Steve Meacher 0447 330 863 or  Sarah Rees 0438 368 870

For background on the Toolangi forest issue, check here.

long term tree-sit established in Toolangi forest

On sunday 10 November, 2013, a young activist called Hannah Patchett launched the beginning of what is intended to be a long term tree sit to highlight the immediate threats to the Leadbeaters Possum through continued destruction of its habitat.

969385_10151799133659001_829810885_nKeep up to date via the treehouse facebook page.

Check here for background information on this long running campaign.

Friends of the Earth – Media Release

Saturday 9 November 2013

Tomorrow at 12 noon Hannah Patchett will formally launch her time dwelling in Toolangi’s treetops.

The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse has been built 50 metres up into the canopy of an area of forest habitat for the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.

“I’ve chosen to stay in the Little Red Toolangi Treehouse because I want to see real action taken to save the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction,” says Hannah Patchett.

“Removing clearfell logging from these forests is the first step.”

Logging of the remaining unburnt forest area following the 2009 bush fires has become increasingly controversial, and the subject of extensive community opposition.

Today the Toolangi forest continues to be logged, mostly for pulp for paper.

Leading expert on the Leadbeater’s Possum, Professor David Lindenmayer, has called for an end to clearfell logging by the end of 2013.

“The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse is a vital and brave initiative to protect the Leadbeater’s Possum habitat that the Napthine state government continues to log against expert recommendations,” says spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, Lauren Caulfield.

“Friends of the Earth support Hannah’s efforts because like her, our organisation and our supporters want implementation of management changes our forests so desperately need,” says Lauren.

“As it stands current industrial scale clearfelling will see our wildlife emblem managed into extinction’,” says Lauren.

“Real and urgent action must be taken to protect the Leadbeater’s Possum and its forest habitat from logging.”

“Forestry Minister Peter Walsh and environment Minister Ryan Smith must ensure the new management recommendations laid out by Professor Lindenmayer are implemented if the Leadbeater’s Possum is to stand a chance,” concludes Lauren.

What: Launch of the Little Red Toolangi Treehouse
Photo opportunity: Little Red Toolangi Treehouse from the ground, or assisted ascend to tree platform
When: From 12 noon, Sunday 10 November
Where: Toolangi State Forest – contact Amelia Young for directions 0404 074 577

Residents and activists defending old forests at Toolangi

The tree sit at Toolangi

For the past two days, more than 30 people from the Central Highlands Action Group and local Toolangi and Healesville residents have been occupying a large logging coupe on Yellowdindi rd in Toolangi state forest.

Two 30m tree sits, which are suspended by ropes attached to two log-harvesters and two ‘bunnies’ with their arms locked through the tracks of a third machine have ensured that no clear-felling took place in the coupe on Monday January 16.

Much of the Toolangi forests were burnt in the fires of 2009. One Toolangi local said that “residents are concerned that following the Black Saturday fires in 2009 that clear-fell logging in the area will increase the risk of mega-fires due to the large amount of wood waste which is left behind in coupes. The resulting mono-species regeneration after logging operations is far more combustible than the mature age forests which are being removed. This is a recipe for further fire disasters”. They point to research by eminent forest ecologist Dr David Lindenmayer, which clearly indicates that clear-felling practices in the Central highlands notably increases fire risk and thus threatens the whole region.

Activists also point to other values of the forests: “These forests give us protection against climate change and provide habitat for native fauna which is such a feature of this area.”

There is a report available here.

These images by Emma-Jayne Heather.

the coupe at Yellowdindi

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