Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



Save the iconic Tanglefoot Picnic Ground Forest Area

The Tanglefoot Picnic Ground is an iconic area in the heart of the Toolangi Forest to the east of Melbourne – complete with beautiful surrounds, an information stand, picnic tables and a toilet. It is also the gateway to the amazing Kalatha Giant which is 300- 400 years old, and the start of the wonderful and popular Myrtle Gully Walking Track . Its accessibility and rich ecology has led to it being visited  by many thousands of tourists each year.

But the area behind the picnic ground is now being being logged! Eventually the coupe will cover 51 hectares. This will greatly impact on the general beauty of the area and make it far less attractive to visitors. It will see the needless further destruction of precious native forest.

Continue reading “Save the iconic Tanglefoot Picnic Ground Forest Area”

Legal action planned to protect Strathbogie forests

The Strathbogie Ranges, in Victoria’s north east, contain valuable remnant forests across a range of elevations. Logging in the Ranges has long been opposed by many locals.

The Shepparton News is reporting that locals are now considering a legal challenge to the VicForests logging.

Continue reading “Legal action planned to protect Strathbogie forests”

Citizen science survey camp


The Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) in East Gippsland is running another ‘citizen science’ weekend.

There will be workshops and practical sessions on forest ecology, threatened species, survey techniques, remote fauna cameras, nocturnal spotlighting, Owl surveys, Frog surveys and rainforest identification, forest carbon accounting and more.

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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.

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”

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”

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”

last days for the Toolangi treehouse?

a view from the treehouse
a view from the treehouse

On sunday 10 November, 2013, a young activist called Hannah Patchett launched a long term tree sit to highlight the immediate threats to the Leadbeaters Possum through continued destruction of its habitat. Logging threatens the survival of this species in the Central Highlands to the east of Melbourne.

A range of people have lived in the treehouse since then, bearing witness to the on-going destruction of the precious ash forests.

Now the treehouse has been issued with an eviction notice from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), which expires on the 9th of April. At this point it is expected that DEPI will remove the treehouse on or soon after the 9th.

A group of people connected with the treehouse are currently appealing to DEPI (Department of Environment and Primary Industries) to provide an ongoing permit for the treehouse, or to at least give some reason why a permit has been denied. At this stage we can only assume that the treehouse will be torn down and destroyed if a permit is not granted.

You can keep track of developments by following the treehouse on facebook.

Life, death, rebirth and new terrain

near Mt Wills
near Mt Wills

I have been out checking some of my special places, to see how they are faring after last summer’s Feathertop fire. The north razorback fire burnt hot up and out of the Ovens river, past Mt Smythe and into the Upper Buckland River and swinging east around the massive bulk of Hotham and towards Dinner Plain.

Many of the forests along the Sugarloaf Ridge were badly burnt and now big swathes of burnt out country have been clearfelled to protect the Great Alpine Road. I understand the need to cut out the alpine ash close to the road that had been killed in the 2013 or earlier fires, but a major over clearing has happened on the slopes of Mt St Bernard, where fire killed snowgums well back from the road had been clearfelled for no obvious reason.

IMGP6236Parts of this country have been burnt three times in a decade. Each year, the land becomes ever more of a mosaic of new burn, older burn, and pockets of old forest – alpine ash and snow gum – that have survived each onslaught. The 2013 fire has killed off forests, glades, slopes that had survived the earlier fires. The headwater country of the Ovens, Buckland, and Wongungarra were hammered hard over the past summer. To my eyes that land seems poorer, from too many burns in too few seasons.

IMGP6251Fire has always been a part of our landscape. And climate science clearly tells us that longer and harder fire seasons are our future. These last few days I have wandered through alpine ash slopes and snow gum forests that had been completely scorched. Other areas have been lightly burnt, others spared altogether. The fire burnt hot up out of the Ovens, then seemed to turn back around some of the higher ridges on the Divide slower and with less heat. Its incredible to see some areas thick with new fern and daisys, while other areas as still mostly bare soil and logs, dead trees still black, streamers of bark rattling in the breeze. In some areas wattle are shooting back, in others, the beginning of Elderberry Panax groves or thick rushes of snow gums re-shooting around the burl of parent trees. If anything, the most recent fires have increased the mosaic effect on the ground.

Below tree line, the forests on these mountains can look so similar from a distance. Up close it is a mix of montane forests merging to alpine ash, leading to snow gum, the mix of vegetation in each place all dependent on slope and aspect, altitude and soil, fire history and circumstance. These most recent fires have added to the mix of already complex ecosystems and forest types.

In my mind I can see a future of more frequent fires, longer summers, warmer winters, and the land that I know and love so well being transformed into something new and poorer. Less old growth, trees pushed beyond their limits, less diversity of living things. But in the short term – summer to summer, the annual cycle that my mind can hold and understand – I see nature adapting and filling the spaces created by each fire. There is a deep ability for tenacity and resilience, seeking balance. The great unknown we face is that we do not yet understand the point at which we will have crossed beyond the balance of resilience and natural cycle into the time when balance will be broken by a human induced future. Some days I am frightened that no one knows, or will even be able to identify, that point of no return, when resilience is surpassed by a new reality that will make our familiar lands a new country, one that is foreign and strange, beyond anything we have known before.

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