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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Central Highlands

Riding for the Great Forest

The proposal for a Great Forest National Park is an idea whose time has come. The forests to the east of Melbourne contain incredible mountain ash and cool temperate rainforest. The proposed park could draw almost 380,000 extra visitors a year to the Central Highlands, add $71 million annually to the local economy and generate 750 jobs. It would protect the heart of the Highlands, including the catchments that supply much of Melbourne’s water.

Many people and groups are campaigning for the park. Aidan Kempster has been raising profile about the proposal through riding the trails and roads of the Central Highlands. He has been sharing his trips and insights on his website Riding for the Great Forest. Here he explains why he started riding to promote the vision of a Great National Park in the Central Highlands.

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Human sign to spell out support for Great Forest National Park

The campaign for the Great Forest National Park is seeking to gain permanent protection for the key mountain forests to the east of Melbourne.

As part of the campaign, the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) is organising a human sign on May 13 on the summit of Mt Donna Buang to spell out the message that Victorians support the park.

Continue reading “Human sign to spell out support for Great Forest National Park”

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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