Strathbogie Ranges IPA – SOSF recommendations

Acknowledgment of Country

Save Our Strathbogie Forest acknowledges the Traditional Owners of this land. We respect the rich culture and intrinsic connection Traditional Owners have to the land. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging and recognize the primacy of their obligations, responsibilities, and rights to care for their Country.

This document summarizes the position of Save Our Strathbogie Forest committee in response to the recent consultative meetings with the Eminent Panel for Community Engagement.

Old-growth Mountain Gum with friends, Strathbogie Ranges IPA


  1. SOSF generally agrees with the content and conclusions in VEAC’s ‘Assessment of the values of the Strathbogie Ranges IPA (SR IPA).
  2. Insofar as VEAC’s assessment is concerned, the boundary of the proposed Conservation Park and Forest Park should be moved west, to the north-south running Dry Creek Rd. This would minimize potential conflict between hunting and agriculture (which is a real issue) and protect high conservation value forest in the Goldsworthys Tk area whereDELWP surveys recorded high Greater Glider densities.
  3. We strongly support TO self-determination through cultural landscape principles and shared governance.
  4. We support Taungurung Land and Waters Council (TLaWC) becoming legal custodians of this forest, in its pursuit to heal culture and heal country.
  5. We urge the EPCE to identify the mechanisms and a reserve category that would enable TLaWC custodianship and strong biodiversity protection of the Strathbogie Ranges IPA during this term of government. We suggest a pathway to achieve this.
  6. Commercial timber harvesting should be explicitly excluded from the future SR IPA reserve, including the south-west section of forest where VEAC suggests a Forest Park is the most appropriate reserve category.
  7. Establish and resource a reserve ‘advisory committee’ under the auspices of the TLaWC to oversee transition of the reserve from state forest to reserve, including the development of a management plan.
  8. Commit to developing a reserve management plan within 12 months of declaration and allocate adequate resources to maintain and implement the plan.
  9. Preparation of the management plan should include assessment and reduction of the impacts of bush camping and recreational vehicle use. It should also consider how best to promote the growth of low-impact activities such as walking, hiking, cycle touring, day visits etc.
  10. Unregulated, recreational hunting of feral deer and pigs, as is the current situation, should be stopped or at least regulated and drastically reduced, to mitigate the risk of conflict and environmental degradation, but also to make better use of such a potentially valuable food resource.
  11. Bush camping in its current form and with likely increased visitor use requires regulation and should be part of an advisory committee’s remit. Improving camping facilities in areas around the forest should be a high priority.
  12. Highest priority and investment should be in low-impact recreation activities that are inclusive and promote both visitor usage and effective forest management. Visitor experience and safety will be improved by better road signage and visitor information.
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Traditional Owners – custodians of the Strathbogie Forest

Golden Mountain from Mt Tel

It is beyond question that the Strathbogie Forest and the broader ranges have been an existential (material and spiritual) part of indigenous human culture for several tens-of thousands of years. Dispossession and alienation of the landscape inflicted on Traditional Owners, are wounds that may take generations to heal. Giving Traditional Owners a leading role in public land management, policy development and operational decision-making will go a long way toward healing country.

The Strathbogie Forest is at a turning point. In 2019 the Victorian government recognized the significant natural values of the forest, ceased all native forest logging, created an Immediate Protection Area and committed to creating a ‘conservation reserve’ across the entire 24,000 ha IPA. Whilst nature conservation is a priority for the forest, and we must ensure that it remains as such,  empowering Traditional Owners to heal country and pursue self determination is no less important. This forest should become a place where indigenous cultural values and practices underpin a flourishing forest ecosystem, one that becomes and remains part of the National Reserve System to the benefit of all Victorians. 

We call on the Victorian government to recognize the Taungurung people as custodians of the Strathbogie Forest. 

Sign the petition and show the Victorian government that we not only support Traditional Owner custodianship, but also the direction the government is taking on Treaty, cultural landscapes and self-determination.

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Are we there yet?

A reminder of what we’ve been fighting for – the Strathbogie Forest, from Rocky Ned Lookout

Just like the long car trips of our youth, when the answer always seemed to be ‘not far now – just a little further’, that’s often how it’s felt during the last eight years of advocating for better management of our forest. Yes, it is just a little further, but the goal is now squarely in sight.

In May 2019, all logging coupes were removed from the Strathbogie Forest.

In November 2019, the Victorian government committed to permanently protect the 24,000 ha Strathbogie Forest and other IPAs, pending community consultation and formal consideration of the most appropriate land tenure.

Last weekend the Victorian Environment Minister announced the process and timeline for the permanent protection of the Strathbogie Forest and all the IPAs announced in 2019.

In a nutshell:

It will begin with a short VEAC Assessment into which type of reserve e.g. National Park, State Park, Regional Park etc, or combination, is most appropriate for our forest. VEAC will commence the assessment for Strathbogie Forest and Mirboo North shortly, the other IPAs will follow next year. The Minister’s message is that VEAC’s report will be evidence-based and supported by the science. And just to emphasize, it’s not about whether our forest will become a park, rather what type of reserve category and what type of activities will be permitted.

The VEAC report then goes to the Eminent Panel for Community Engagement (EPCE) for additional scrutiny. This is the part of the process where we’ll again need to be active and strongly advocate for our forest. The Minister expects the EPCE to provide her with their final recommendation in mid 2022.

The elephant in the room in all this is the next state election in November 2022. From the press release, it’s almost a given that the process for the East Gippsland and Central Highlands IPAs won’t be finalized before the election. However, it is SOSF’s expectation that the Strathbogie Forest and Mirboo North process, which starts earlier and will be more straightforward, could easily be finalized before the election.

So, even though we’re not quite there yet, for now, we can absolutely celebrate – yoo-hoo!!!

SOSF Media Release

The forest campaign – in pictures

This story was initially produced as a photobook for personal use, to document the journey and enormous community effort that went into gaining protection for the Strathbogie Forest. But now that it’s done (the book), it seems a shame not to share it.

Watch the slideshow above, or click this link (The-Fight-to-Protect-the-Strathbogie-Forest) to view full-screen (use the top right buttons for options).

Below is the image on the back cover of the book. It was taken by J. R. Donald at the very beginning of the 20thC. from a low peak near the Strathbogie township, called Majors Hill. Looking east, Mt Strathbogie, 1044 m asl, is the peak on the horizon, 20 km distant. In the foreground the early Strathbogie township is making its claim, surrounded by a panorama of tall, ring-barked eucalypts – a testament to what was once a forest extending from horizon to horizon. This image reminds me how rapidly we newcomers have changed this landscape, of what has been lost and the importance of protecting what remains of our natural world.

Strathbogie Forest says ‘Thank You’

Victoria’s native forest industry – the numbers just don’t stack-up

Victoria’s ‘forest industry’ is a multi-billion dollar industry that is currently thriving and looking to expand. Yet, some politicians and commentators seem to delight in declaring that thousands of jobs will be lost, that entire towns will shut down, that this is an attack on rural life, it will gut the rural community and Orbost and Hayfield will be ‘wiped out’. All because of the Victorian Government’s recent announcement of new areas of protected forest and a native forest logging phase-out by 2030.

To help understand the Victorian forest industry and the role of native forest logging, SOSF member Brendan Nugent ( has collated the below information. References are listed at the end.


The native forest logging sector is a small part of the Victorian forestry industry.

There are only 500 FTE jobs directly employed in the native forest logging industry (Deloitte, 2017) and will be assisted with a $120 Million transition package, compared with 20,000 in the Victorian forestry industry (VAFI, 2017). This is just 1 in 40 Victorian forestry jobs.

Around 1,500 people are employed in processing manufacturing that use some proportion of wood from native forests (Deloitte, 2017). Over 850 of these 1,500 jobs are at the Australian Paper mill in Maryvale which already sources a majority of its wood from Victorian plantations and supports over 5,500 jobs across Victoria (Australian Paper Sustainability Report, 2018).

In North East Victoria the forestry industry is already based in plantations and is large employer in the region with many hundreds of people employed in the planting, management, harvesting and haulage of plantation wood. Major local businesses who rely on plantations include Alpine MDF, Alpine truss, Visy and D&R Henderson who alone directly employ 400 hundred people with the sawn timber, MDF products and laminated particleboard produced at their Benalla plant from plantations (D&R Henderson, 2019).

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Strathbogie Forest Protected – At Last!

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Victorian Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, announcing protection of the Strathbogie Forest.

Save Our Strathbogie Forest  – Media release, 11 Nov. 2019

Victorian Government Announces Permanent Protection for the Strathbogie Forest

The Save Our Strathbogie Forest (SOSF) community campaign, with it’s hundreds of members and thousands of supporters, applauds the Andrews Government’s announcement last week to remove all logging and immediately protect the Strathbogie Forest.

Bertram Lobert, spokesperson for SOSF, said “By taking this step the Andrews Government is showing far-sighted leadership with regards to Victoria’s natural environment and climate-change action – recognizing the over-arching value of these forests for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water yields, recreation and ecotourism, over and above their short-term value for low-grade timber products.  This is a great day for our forest, and for many other significant areas of native forest to be protected forever as a part of this package announced by the Government last week.  What we now need to ensure is that these commitments are followed through, and that the Government keeps working to protect other, irreplaceable native forests in Victoria.”

 “SOSF has campaigned tirelessly for increased protections for the Strathbogie Forest since 2013, and we are delighted that this Government has listened to regional Victorians and responded with such far-reaching, positive outcomes for the natural environment and for all Victorians.”

Protection of the Strathbogie Forest will:

  • Expand nature-based tourism and build the tourism economy in surrounding local government areas.
  • Protect one of the healthiest populations of the nationally threatened Greater Glider possum in all Victoria, along with 36 other threatened and iconic native species.
  • Create opportunity for an expanded hardwood plantations sector and remove loss-making native forest logging.
  • Provide opportunity for Traditional Owners to manage country.
  • Protect the highest conservation value forests in the entire Strathbogie Ranges, along with the host of native species that have already disappeared from elsewhere in the ranges.
  • Improve water yields from these forests into Murray-Darling Basin, and
  • Achieve the annual sequestration of significant amounts of carbon-dioxide-equivalents.
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Victorians overwhelmingly want protection for native forests & an end to logging

That’s the outcome of a wide-reaching survey by the Victorian Government into the ‘Future of Our Forests‘.

The survey included:

  • 126 face-to-face events across the state involving over 2000 participants.
  • On-line participation from 2824 people
  • 49 youth participants from 22 youth organisations
  • 14 written submissions
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Strathbogie Forest logging coupes – gone!

The Victorian Government has halted all logging in the Strathbogie Forest, according to a recent announcement by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Jaclyn Symes.

The government’s new Timber Release Plan (TRP) shows the removal of all logging coupes, covering 370 ha, from the Strathbogie Forest.

Without a doubt, this is fantastic news! With 74% of the Strathbogie Ranges’ original forests completely gone, we need to protect and carefully manage what we have left. With climate change on our doorstep, the 24,000 ha Strathbogie State Forest will become increasingly important to the health and well-being of regional towns and communities and catchment health. This announcement is a significant acknowledgement of the importance of the forest and validates the community’s five-year campaign to improve forest management and protect it’s important values. We applaud the Minister’s decision.

[click an image to enlarge]

In 2017, research conducted by Victorian Government scientists found that the Strathbogie Forest was a state-wide stronghold for the Greater Glider possum, a recently listed threatened species. The forest is also important for the survival of many other native plants, animals and vegetation communities (which have disappeared elsewhere in the ranges). The forest is acknowledged by government and experts as a critical climate refuge for the region’s flora and fauna.

We now encourage the government to take the next step and deliver permanent protection for the entire Strathbogie Forest.

Golden Mount from Mt Tel

Golden Mount, Strathbogie Forest.

DSCN7384 (1)

Giant Messmate Stringybark – centuries old and surrounded by frineds.


NE RFA & the Strathbogie Forest

SOSF RFA consult slide

A New Plan for the Strathbogie Forest.

Unlike in Tasmania and NSW, here in Victoria the Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) are not simply being rolled over, thankfully.

The government and DELWP have embarked on a RFA Modernization Program that includes consultation with partners and stakeholder groups. The SOSF believes that the North East Regional Forest Agreement  has systematically failed the effective management and protection of natural values in the Strathbogie Forest and we have made that case to government. Perhaps the clearest example of this failure is the case of the Greater Glider possum (Petauroides volans). This species is listed as threatened with extinction under both Australian and Victorian government legislation, yet it has no formal protection under the North East RFA, nor the Central Highlands RFA. This has occurred because the RFA process has no mechanism to update the list of threatened species the agreement is meant to protect. The species protected by RFAs now, in 2019 are exactly the same as the species that were listed as threatened when the RFAs were created 20 years ago. This is but one example of how the current RFAs have failed.

For a broader understanding of why many Victorian communities oppose renewal of the RFAs, here are examples of the arguments:

A few weeks ago DELWP staff from the Hume Region met with SOSF representatives to hear our concerns about the North East RFA, how it impacts on the Strathbogie Forest. We were grateful for the opportunity to be consulted on specific forest issues and describe the future we see for the Strathbogie Forest.

As part of the consultation we presented a slide show –

A New Plan for the Strathbogie Forest.

The slide show was accompanied by a spoken presentation and concluded with more detailed discussion of the issues raised. Much of the information in the slide show is drawn from the report Protecting the Strathbogie Forest.