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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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forests

Finding hope among the old trees

I don’t know about you, but my wanders in the mountains are often dominated by grief as I see places I love burnt beyond recognition. I’ve spent way too much time looking at burnt forests lately (for instance the Tabletop fire), and the realisation that as I get older, the forests are getting younger has been hard to accept.

More than 90% of snow gum woodland in Victoria has burnt at least once in the last 20 years, and we are down to a fragment of remaining old mountain forests (estimates are that we only have 0.47% of old growth alpine ash left in Victoria). Most people who are paying attention will see what’s going on, and experiencing solastalgia (the distress specifically caused by environmental change and climate change) is both natural and normal. But it can be hard to stay positive in the face of grinding and overwhelming change. And many of us, especially if we live in the bush or mountains, hold fear about the ever more intense fire seasons.

But there is so much wonderful country that remains, and we know that, given time, alpine ash and snow gum forests will recover (if we can keep the fires out until they mature).

Continue reading “Finding hope among the old trees”

Forest protests continue to ramp up in Victoria and NSW

For the last few months there have been sustained, decentralised protests happening against logging operations in Victoria. Check here for some notes on previous actions. It has continued today (June 29) with protests in the Black Range, Toolangi, Lakes Entrance Mt Disappointment and the Pyrenees State Forest, with a symbolic connection to protests being held in NSW.

Continue reading “Forest protests continue to ramp up in Victoria and NSW”

‘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’”

A 170 km long firebreak in East Gippsland?

The ABC is reporting that ‘fire-affected communities in eastern Victoria are calling for a permanent firebreak running 170 kilometres along both sides of the Princes Highway to the New South Wales border’.

Continue reading “A 170 km long firebreak in East Gippsland?”

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”

Is road safety work also ‘logging by stealth’?

Following this summer’s devastating fires in East Gippsland, it has taken enormous effort by the authorities to get roads re-opened and made safe. Removal of many thousands of fire affected trees is essential for the safety of road users. However, the scale of the clear felling of large habitat trees occurring along thousands of kilometres of East Gippsland’s roads has disturbed many people.

Residents describe ‘unprecedented clearing’ occurring around Buchan, Black Mountain, Combienbar, Orbost, Goongerah, Cann River, Mallacoota, Cape Conran, state forests inland from Bairnsdale, along the Great Alpine Way and many other fire affected roads in East Gippsland.

Continue reading “Is road safety work also ‘logging by stealth’?”

Warburton residents call for halt to logging proposal on Mt Bride

Community members from Warburton are 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”.

Continue reading “Warburton residents call for halt to logging proposal on Mt Bride”

Old Growth ‘verification’ threatens forest protection

In November, the Victorian government announced that logging native forests will end in 2030. The government also committed to state-wide protections for 90,000ha of old growth forests, and 96,000ha of new protected areas, 48,500 of which are in East Gippsland. An action statement for the threatened Greater Glider was also finally released.

An ongoing issue has been the question of how and when the Old Growth would be protected. The state government has now provided details on how this will occur, and this has confirmed fears by environmental groups that protection will be watered down through the methodology that will be used.

East Gippsland based activist group Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) has issued a call for members of the public to engage in the process around Old Growth modelling. 

Continue reading “Old Growth ‘verification’ threatens forest protection”

What does the VIC government’s promise to protect Old Growth mean for the High Country?

Public conversation about the recent announcement of an end to logging of old growth forests in Victoria has so far focused on the implications for East Gippsland, where large areas of ‘Modeled Old Growth (MOG)’ is expected to be protected, and the Central Highlands, where there will be very little protection. Given this announcement covers forests right across the east of the state, what does it mean for the High Country?

The short answer, at this stage, is ‘we don’t really know’. While the government map that has been circulated shows considerable areas of MOG throughout the foothills and valleys of the High Country, and even what looks like older Snow Gum Woodlands, we are yet to get the details on what the protection of these areas will look like.

Continue reading “What does the VIC government’s promise to protect Old Growth mean for the High Country?”

‘The Rainforests are burning’

In 2016 and 2019, large areas of Tasmania were burnt by wild fires, including vegetation that is normally too moist to burn. Last year it happened in rainforests on the Lamington Tablelands in south east Queensland. It is a highly unusual event for these areas to burn, but one that appears to be occurring more frequently in recent times. Now the same thing is happening in northern New South Wales.

This loss and destruction of ancient fire sensitive ecosystems is heartbreaking. Sending much love and solidarity to our friends in the North who are facing these terrible fires.

Continue reading “‘The Rainforests are burning’”

Victorian government protects Old Growth forests

In a major announcement, the Andrews government has stated that it will ‘immediately’ protect all remaining old growth forest on the east of the state as part of a plan to phase out native forest logging and protect 96,000 hectares of forests. The old growth areas amounts to 90,000 hectares of mountain and foothill forests.

Environmental groups such as Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have welcomed the announcement and also called for the release of extra detail and maps to ensure the announcement results in lasting and effective protection.

This outcome is especially good news for the heartland of remaining old growth – the hill country of East Gippsland.

Continue reading “Victorian government protects Old Growth forests”

Climate change threatens Melbourne’s water and mountain ash forests

The Central Highlands to the east of Melbourne are home to incredible stands of Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans). They are valuable in their own right and also offer space, quiet, recreation, and are a home to a wealth of animal species. The catchments of the Central Highlands also provide much of Melbourne’s drinking water.

According to new research, Melbourne faces a rising threat to it’s water supplies from climate change as higher temperatures diminish inflows while pushing up demand.

A paper published by Environment Research Letters shows a “substantially” amplified risk for Melbourne’s water availability if global temperatures rise 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels rather than the 1.5-degree target set by the Paris climate agreement.

Continue reading “Climate change threatens Melbourne’s water and mountain ash forests”

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