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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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forestry

Logging on the Dargo High Plains part of a much bigger problem

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest, dominated by Alpine Ash, in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, an area of state forest that lies right next to the Alpine National Park. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time. One coupe has already been logged. The remaining coupes have not yet been scheduled for harvesting, and are yet to be surveyed. There is still time to stop this ecological disaster – if we act now.

The Little Dargo is roughly 15 kilometres south of the Mt Hotham ski resort in the mountains of north eastern Victoria. Background on the logging can be found here.

Continue reading “Logging on the Dargo High Plains part of a much bigger problem”

Fire, disaster, and the long road to recovery on the Toorongo plateau

If you’ve ever been to the Baw Baw ski village from Melbourne, you will have driven under the southern fall of the Toorongo Plateau. As you climb out of the Loch River valley into higher country around Icy Creek, a big bulky mountain looms over you. Heavily forested, the southern slopes of the plateau are impressive. The north side, hidden from view from the Baw Baw road, slopes gently away from the summit ridgeline towards the upper Yarra River valley. It is a ‘production’ forest, having been logged for many decades. It has also been hit by multiple fires, and this is some of the story of it’s recovery.

Continue reading “Fire, disaster, and the long road to recovery on the Toorongo plateau”

Forest refuges under threat from logging

new report based on analysis of maps and data from the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires has revealed that significant areas of unburnt forests critical for bushfire affected wildlife are set to be logged by the Victorian Government. This includes areas in the Victorian high country.

The report was produced by a range of groups, including Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) and the Victorian National Parks Association.

GECO says ‘These and other important areas are still scheduled for logging, when they need to be protected. Take action and email decision makers to drop logging plans and protect forests and wildlife’.

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A new year. The old threats continue.

Well, we’re on the other side of New Year. Phew. I hope that you’re enjoying some good mountain time over summer and getting a recharge. There’s lots to do this year.

There are a range of environmental issues that have been bubbling away over the last year, and each of them have campaigns which could use some extra support if you have the time or resources. Here’s a sample of what’s going on. 

Continue reading “A new year. The old threats continue.”

2020. It’s been fun. Let’s move on.

Wow. What a year. Crazy summer fires. Covid lockdowns. Terrible winter snow pack, but also some incredible snow storms. Lots of fighting over our mountains, including the endless culture war argument about horses. Kind of glad it’s almost at an end.

We all know the story: a dry winter and spring led to a horror summer, with massive fires across the eastern Victorian high countrySnowy Mountains and Brindabellas. Luckily Tasmania got off easy last summer.

Then the lockdown(s), which hit mountain and valley towns in Victoria especially hard, isolated Tasmania, and closed the NSW/ Victorian border. The economic impacts of these events will last for a long time.

And then there were the ongoing arguments about how to treat our mountains. It felt like issues were widespread this year. Here’s a few of them:

Continue reading “2020. It’s been fun. Let’s move on.”

What does the Victorian budget provide for mountain environments?

We know that the mountains we love face an existential threat from climate change: less snow, more fire, less streamflow are all starting to transform vegetation communities and the look and feel of mountain environments.

The Victorian state government released it’s budget for 2020/21 yesterday. Apart from the welcome climate and energy measures (which will help the state to play its part in reducing its contribution to further climate change), there are a number of allocations that are relevant to mountain environments.

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Logging to intensify in Snobs Creek Valley

Logging has devastated so much of the Central Highlands, to the northeast and east of Melbourne. A strong hold of Mountain Ash forests, the public lands outside the national park estate are logged heavily. 

In recent decades this logging has been intense in the northern sections of the Central Highlands, to the east of the well known Cathedral Range, which is popular with bushwalkers and rock climbers. The Blue Range and Royston Range have been heavily logged, causing significant fragmentation of Mountain and Alpine Ash forests. Now logging is being intensified in the Snobs Creek Valley.

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Logging in rainforest buffer zone in East Gippsland

Last summer’s fires devastated large sections of the Victorian Alps and East Gippsland. Government reports show that 31% of Victoria’s rainforests were burnt. Rainforests are fire sensitive, and need to be managed to ensure fire is kept out of these ecosystems. Apart from doing everything possible to stop fires before they get into rainforests, and suppressing fire in these forests, it also means ensuring adequate buffer zones between the rainforest and the surrounding eucalyptus dominated forest.


However, citizen scientists from the Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) in far east Gippsland have discovered that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has failed to put in proper buffers for an area of cool-temperate rainforest on Mt Jersey in East Gippsland which is currently being logged.

Continue reading “Logging in rainforest buffer zone in East Gippsland”

New species of rare frog discovered, threatened by logging

Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) based in far East Gippsland has long been working to protect remaining forests in that part of the state. Working with allies like the Flora and Fauna Research Collective, they have led citizen science projects which have frequently found threatened or endangered species in areas scheduled for logging, then used the law to gain protection of the habitat these species rely on.

Now GECO is warning that a population of the vulnerable  Large Brown Tree Frog is threatened by logging and that a Special Protection Zone placed around the logging is insufficient.

Continue reading “New species of rare frog discovered, threatened by logging”

Logging threat to Central Highlands fish hatchery

The northern Central Highlands of Victoria, to the north east of Melbourne is heavily forested hilly country that harbours endangered species, rainforest and wonderful mountain ash forests. A number of rivers, including the Rubicon and Snobs Creek, flow north, joining the Goulburn system. Sadly, the area has been heavily logged for decades.

This logging has been strongly resisted by locals (see for instance this report from 2018). Protest has focused on the environmental and economic impacts (there is a small eco tourism industry that operates in the region). But a threat to water quality, and hence a fish hatchery that relies on that water, has been gaining media interest lately. 

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Walking the Mountains of Home – Kurrunganner /Mt Bride

Community members from Warburton in the Upper Yarra Valley have been attempting to stop the proposed logging coupes on and surrounding Mt Bride.

They say that “logging this area will reduce water security as the proposed coupes are within water catchment areas and it has long been recognised that logging has a negative impact on water yield”.

They also say that the coupes will increase fire risk, “as the micro climatic conditions will dry out the understory and the regrowth saplings will create more fuel”.

Some locals have been holding an annual ‘Walking the Mountains of Home’ journey up the local peaks. The Upper Yarra is blessed with gorgeous forested hills that rise steeply from the River. This tradition is about deepening connection to place and been happening for half a decade: ‘On the morning of each pilgrimage, we began by visiting the Yarra where everyone collected a river stone. We each carried our small token to the summit. Over the years, we are very slowly shaping a cairn. This is a place we visit annually, to remember the long legacy of love of this place by the first peoples, and to renew our commitment to learning about and caring for this country into the future’.

This year, because of the threat posed by the logging, the walk climbed Kurrunganner /Mt Bride. Local Maya Ward reports:

Continue reading “Walking the Mountains of Home – Kurrunganner /Mt Bride”

Salvage logging in Alpine Ash forests

Last summer’s fires devastated huge sections of Eastern Victoria, and disrupted regional economies in the east of the state.

They burned 1.4 million hectares, much of it forested public land. They destroyed more than 50% of the habitat for 185 rare and threatened Victorian plants and animals. They pushed already critically endangered species like the greater glider, smoky mouse, others perilously close to extinction. They also impacted large areas of Alpine Ash forest, which the government now intends to log.

Continue reading “Salvage logging in Alpine Ash forests”

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