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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Central Highlands

‘Logging operations shut down in Big Pats Creek, Warburton, Kinglake ranges and Baw Baw’

Logging continued in many places around the country during the COVID-19 lock down. Environmental activists and locals concerned about logging operations were disciplined and largely stayed at home during the pandemic.

Now, this long wait has overflowed into action. In Tasmania, people have occupied trees in forest being cut near Mt Field. On the south coast of NSW, the community of Manyana is opposing the destruction of unburnt forest for a housing development, and now actions have happened across the Central Highlands of Victoria. This follows sustained action by locals at Big Pats Creek near Warburton.

Continue reading “‘Logging operations shut down in Big Pats Creek, Warburton, Kinglake ranges and Baw Baw’”

‘Mega’ fires more frequent in Victoria

In Victoria, the frequency of ‘mega’ fires (those greater than 100,000 hectares) has grown significantly over the past century.

  • 19th century – 2 mega fires
  • first half of 20th Century – 4 mega fires
  • 2nd half of 20th century – 7 mega fires
  • In the first 20 years of the 21st century – at least 8 mega fires

This is in spite of the huge advances we have made in fire fighting technology over the past 50 years.

Continue reading “‘Mega’ fires more frequent in Victoria”

The O’Shannassy Catchment: ‘2/3 of the rainforest is gone’

Eleven years on from the 2009 Black Saturday fires, many landscapes are still recovering. The Central Highlands were an epicentre of old mountain ash and rainforest, but this has been steadily destroyed by decades of logging and the wild fire of 2009 burnt large sections of remaining old growth.

Prior to the 2009 fires, the O’Shannassy Catchment was a standout example of the remaining old growth of the Central Highlands. As a Designated Water Supply Catchment Area, legislated under the National Parks Act to protect water catchment and resource values, much of it is closed to the general public. Yet you could see the upper catchment from a number of vantage points, such as the road between the Lake Mountain turnoff and Camberville.

Much of it was burnt in 2009. A decade and a bit on, how is it faring?

The short answer is that while the forest is recovering, in the severely burnt portion of the catchment, 96% of the original rainforest ‘could no longer be classified as such’. And, overall, the severe fire in 2009 has led to the loss of around two thirds of the Cool Temperate Rainforest previously mapped in the O’Shannassy Catchment.

Continue reading “The O’Shannassy Catchment: ‘2/3 of the rainforest is gone’”

Clearfell logging near Warburton will ‘threaten town’s water security’

Local group Protect Warburton Ranges (facebook page here) have expressed alarm that a planned clearfelling operation near the town will threaten local water security.

This area is being logged at present (May 2020). Most recent updates at the top, please scroll down for background information.

Continue reading “Clearfell logging near Warburton will ‘threaten town’s water security’”

Leadbeater’s Possum found in active logging site near Baw Baw

Recently, members of Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH) observed a critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum within an active logging coupe (480-509-0013, called ‘Desilijic’) in the Central Highlands to the east of Melbourne. Habitat just 100 metres away had already been clearfelled – well within the buffer zone triggered by this Leadbeater’s Possum detection.

Now WOTCH have heard that an interim protective buffer zone has been established surrounding the Leadbeater’s Possum detection.

Yet again, this highlights the value of citizen science in ensuring endangered species are protected.

Continue reading “Leadbeater’s Possum found in active logging site near Baw Baw”

Burning season in the Central Highlands

As post logging burns darken the sky across eastern Victoria, a growing number of community groups are mobilising to oppose the practise of the burns.

Post logging fires are different to fuel reduction burns. Post logging fires are meant to remove all the debris left behind from logging – the unwanted trees, the heads and branches, and the understory vegetation. Generally the waste is pushed into piles and burnt.

Continue reading “Burning season in the Central Highlands”

Logging in a time of COVID-19

While we are all patiently sitting at home in order to do our bit and ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infections, logging continues at full speed in the forests of Victoria. And Tasmania has just signed over up to 356 000 hectares of forests that should be in reserves to now be available for logging.

Continue reading “Logging in a time of COVID-19”

A journey from the Headwaters

From the Great Forest National Park:

“There has been a little snow falling up on the Baw Baws recently. This tranquil spot called the montane fens is the headwaters of the largest water supply to Melbourne – the Thomson river. And over the next few days we’ll follow this river to your kitchen.

This relatively small stream emerges from a large soaking fen, alive with frogs and birds. But once upon a time this place wasn’t safe and was set to be logged. After a strong battle, in 2008, this unique ecosystem was finally recognised as a site of significance, named a ‘montane fen’ and logging was stopped from ring barking it’s surrounds due to the efforts of scientists and conservationists. This campaign took three years and in securing this spot we also saved the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species critically-endangered Baw Baw Frog.

We must give a big shout out to campaign and science leaders Professor Jean-Marc Hero, Dr Chris Taylor, Sarah Rees, @wilderness_aus, amphibian citizen-scientist David Black, Dr Greg Hollis and all the Zoos of Australia that backed the conservation efforts. Special thanks to folks that gathered on the steps of Parliament, signed petitions and wrote to MPs. Gratitude to Liberal ex-MP Phil Honeywood for raising it in parliament and thanks to Labor ex-MLC Gavin Jennings for delivering its final protection last year in a second conservation covenant under the Immediate Protection Areas.

You can walk the fens in a short circuit and there are some stunning picnic spots just waiting for you as soon as the lockdown is lifted”.

Photo: ChrisTaylor

https://www.facebook.com/ChrisTaylorEnviroPhotography/

You can follow the journey from the headwaters to the city via the Great Forest National Park facebook page in coming days.

You can find out more about the proposal for the Great Forest National Park here.

Logging threatens Leadbeater’s Possum habitat

Industrial scale clear-fell logging is NOW taking place in the Snobs Creek Valley.  The Central Highlands are the most heavily logged area in Australia.  The highly biodiverse ecosystem of mountain and alpine ash in the Rubicon State Forest has been virtually logged-out.

Lead beaters possum and Greater Gliders are widespread through the Snobs Valley. In one night 30 Greater Gliders were found in one of the proposed Vicforests logging coupes. These animals are listed as threatened species under the federal EPBC Act.

The three coupes currently being logged at Snobs are:  Shackle, Snobs 13 and Snobs 14 and other sensitive coupes are also being logged at Torbreck and Bull fight (see map).

Continue reading “Logging threatens Leadbeater’s Possum habitat”

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