Vicforests at odds with local calls for moratorium on logging

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A crowd of about 50 people turned up to hear VicForests’ plan for the failed coup.

Last Sunday VicForests held an ‘open house’ out in the Strathbogie forest, to explain to the local community, their plans for rehabilitating the failed coup. In case you’ve forgotten what it looks like, here’s a reminder – almost nine years after being harvested, the coup is a disgrace – the forest isn’t regenerating and weeds and rabbits proliferate! In spite of several attempts by VicForests to get eucalypts to grow (eg. aerial seeding and a ‘regeneration burn’), all that’s come up is a sea of wattles and dogwood. The main consequence of the regeneration burn appears to have been to kill most of the big, old trees that weren’t cut down – so-called habitat trees. There are a few patches of young trees that have managed to grow, but they are the exception. And now, any palatable seedling that pops it’s head up is quickly nibbled off by the plentiful Swamp Wallabies and Rabbits.

Looking across the coupe from cnr Barjarg Rd & Ferraris Rd

Looking across the coup from cnr Barjarg Rd & Ferraris Rd. Most of the standing dead trees will collapse in the next 10 to 20 years.

So, what’s the VicForests plan? As none of the standard silvicultural techniques have been able to regenerate tree seedlings en masse, VicForests are now forced to hand plant part of the site (8 ha), with each seedling protected by a Rabbit and Wallaby-proof tree guard – certainly expensive and potentially problematic for the ecology of the forest, as only eucalypts will be planted and none of the dozens of understorey and ground-layer plants that used to grow on the site, but have been decimated by the heavy-handed disturbance (more to come on this). If the 8 ha regenerates to VicForests’ standards, then another 8 ha will undergo the same treatment.

There was also serious questioning by community members as to VicForests motive for the days’ ‘open house’; after all, its now many years since the coup has been a regeneration failure and despite explaining what went wrong, VicForests were not able to say what they had learnt from the failure, or how they would alter their logging practices so that this never happens again.

Many locals are concerned that the treatment of this site will lead to a forest being turned into a plantation and VicForests staff effectively acknowledged as much – hand planting the site would result in a large, even-aged stand of eucalypts, with a simplified understorey and very few mature ‘habitat trees’ in the mix.

After much discussion about the hand-planting trial and a variety of other issues, community participants overwhelmingly ‘voted’ for a moratorium on logging in the Strathbogie Forests and for a VEAC investigation into the broader values of the forest and a review of current land management guidelines. Many in the community have lost faith in VicForests to manage the forest beyond the dollar-return (and even that is questionable). We are currently lobbying the Victorian State Government for both a moratorium on logging and a VEAC investigation into Strathbogie Forests.

It was great to see so many people on Sunday, interested in the future of this fantastic forest and prepared to bee seen and heard.

Enough from me, here are some photos of the day’s activity.

 

6 responses to “Vicforests at odds with local calls for moratorium on logging

  1. Thanks for that excellent coverage I was very upset that I couldn’t attend due to other commitments Ron Jones

  2. You mean 50 people were at odds. Once again this group came with their predetermined views and then in the Euroa Gazette were reduced to insults

    • Hi Mark,
      You are correct, 50 people, or thereabouts, that attended the Open House were at odds with VicForests’ ideas of forest management. Some of these 50 people were members of the Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group, many were not. Nothing that VicForests said on the day suggested they had ideas or information that were different from what they presented previously. Issues relating to the way VicForests logs native forest are not new, so perhaps it’s not surprising that ‘this group’ has a predetermined position. Bert.

  3. I notice that on your facebook any contrary views are removed. So you aren’t really into debate. In one meeting you call the understory weeds the next precious understory. In the very first meeting I challenged Bert Lobert that he was saying Vic Forests were making plantation. He denied this but now you are claiming that plantation are being created. This is contravention of the 1996 act

    • Hi Mark,
      This time you are only partly correct. Comments on the SSF FB page that are deemed to be trolling are blocked.

      The word ‘understorey’ refers to vegetation below the forest canopy – could be introduced weeds, could be native plants, could be weedy native plants. The understorey in the ‘failed coup’ is mainly ‘weedy’ native plants, with patches of introduced weeds; quite a few native understorey species appear to be missing, most likely due to the way the regeneration of the coup has been managed. It seems pretty clear to me that ‘seed tree’ harvesting is producing large, even-aged stands of timber, what I have loosely termed ‘tree-farms’ and they’ve also been likened to plantations, because of the even-aged nature of the tree crop. The result of a couple of rotations of VicForests intensive management, is likely to be a forest with significantly reduced structural and biological diversity. The ‘failed coup’ looks like becoming an actual plantation after just one rotation. To many, that is a serious failure and, yes, perhaps a contravention of the Act. That’s precisely why the SSF Group is calling for a moratorium on logging in the Strathbogie mixed-species forests, until there is a thorough investigation of the broader values of the forest (through VEAC) and a re-think of how best to integrate timber harvesting into over-all forest management. Bert

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