Monthly Archives: April 2016

Forest picnic and celebration

This Messmate eucalypt was the special guest at our picnic.

This giant Messmate Stringybark was the special guest at our picnic.

Dry as it is, a picnic in the forest seemed the perfect way to celebrate the spectacular trees still standing in the Strathbogie Forest. Though there will be some planned burning in the Strathbogie forest this season, many stands of significant old-growth will be spared, among them this special place of towering Messmates (Eucalyptus obliqua) – where we spread out our picnic blankets and shared a meal, two Sunday’s ago. Among such ancient trees, who knows how old, humility comes easily and gratitude that such trees still exist is sincere. [Click on a pic to watch the slide show] Continue reading

New DELWP plan for Barjarg Rd burn

Parlours Block - Proposed Planned burning Autumn 2016 as at 13042016

Parlours Block: yellow highlight- planned burn of drier forest; green line- candling of messmate trees around perimeter and internal access track.

DELWP and Minister Neville have adopted a new plan for this season’s Barjarg Rd burn. Whilst this is very welcome news, the devil is always in the detail – and the forest is still soooo dry!

You will remember that the primary focus of this 3000 ha burn was Parlours Block, 650 hectares of the upper catchment of Parlours/Sugarloaf Ck. Minister Lisa Neville has now assured us that…

Priority will be now be given to the Strathbogie South – Dry Creek  burn [see footnote] and the Parlours Block component of the Strathbogie – Barjarg Rd burn. Both fall within the Bushfire Moderation Zone (BMZ) and have the greatest strategic value to risk reduction. 

The original planned Barjarg burn has been divided into three areas, Parlours,  Harpers and Moonee blocks. Harpers and Moonee blocks will not be scheduled to be planned burned this year. The following treatment are proposed for Parlours Block this Autumn if conditions allow: Continue reading

Picnic in the forest

Yes, very short notice, but we have an opportunity for an impromptu get together and celebration. If you can’t make this event, there will be another opportunity to come together soon. But for now …

Picnic in the Forest-1

You don’t know what you’ve got, until you lose it

Volunteer Firefighters for Forests

A newly formed local community group is urging DELWP to stop the 30 sq km Barjarg Rd planned burn.

[Full Media release_Volunteer Firefighters for Forests 1.3 MB]

Volunteer Firefighters call for a halt to this season’s planned burns in Strathbogie Ranges

CFA volunteers from local brigades in the Strathbogie Ranges and nearby districts have banded together to form a new group calling themselves ‘Volunteer Firefighters for Forests’ to save the Strathbogie Ranges’ last extensive stands of mature native forests from an unnecessary and destructive burn planned for this autumn.DSC05343 small

“We are all committed CFA volunteers who have responded to hundreds of call-outs to fires and other emergencies over our years of involvement with the CFA”, said spokesperson Andrew Townsend. “But, we also care about our local natural environment and we do not support DELWP’s plan to burn 30 square kilometres of some of the best quality forest in the ranges. We are all part of this local community and as CFA volunteers we do not see any logic from a human safety perspective in burning these forests right now.

  • The burn is too big
  • The forest is too dry
  • The risk of damage is too great
  • We care about this forest

As members of CFA brigades surrounding the Strathbogie Forest, the voices of CFA volunteers need to be heard. Andrew Townsend again “We want to be involved in decision making about planned-burns in the area.”

This group is very concerned about protecting life, assets and the forest and is convinced that a truly collaborative approach can achieve this. Genuine community consultation is a central platform of the Victorian Government’s ‘Safer Together’ approach to bushfire risk. We fully endorse Minister Lisa Neville’s statement “We will involve local communities in decision making, taking into account what people value in their local area.” And we urge the Minister to be true to her words.

We call on DELWP to defer this season’s burns in the Strathbogie Ranges and commit to genuine community consultation in the future planning of fuel reduction burns.

Media enquiries
Andrew Townsend

0488 965 066

f.a.townsend23@gmail.com

Volunteers rake breaks around old-growth trees vulnerable to fire.

Volunteers rake breaks around old-growth trees vulnerable to fire.

Volunteer Firefighters for Forests acknowledges that the views expressed in this release have not been endorsed by the Country Fire Authority, Victoria.

The Greater Glider in Strathbogie Forests

Dark phase Greater Glider – Image Steve Parish publishing

The Greater Glider (Petauroides volans) is Australia’s largest gliding possum and a stunning site at night, high in the tree-tops. The species is regarded as Vulnerable (to extinction) by both the Australian Government (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act) and by the Victorian Government (DELWP Advisory List), meaning it’s now on the slippery slope towards extinction if we let continue the current factors impacting on its survival. The biggest of these is habitat loss and the causes of that in the Strathbogie Ranges are logging and planned burns.

A ‘grey-phase’ Greater Glider; not a race or subspecies, just different.

Greater Gliders den and nest in big hollows, that only occur in big, old trees, like this one, below. These big trees take at least 100 years (possibly more) to develop hollows suitable for Greater Gliders. Unfortunately, a single planned burn can kill hundreds of these rare, majestic Strathbogie Forest trees.

Continue reading

‘Planned-burn’ undermines Andrews Government credibility with local community

Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group
Media Release
31 March 2016

[Media release pdf link]

Controversial ‘planned-burn’ undermines Andrews Government credibility with local community

A proposal for the largest ever planned burn in the Strathbogie forests of north-east Victoria has led to anger and mistrust of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). A spokesperson for the Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group (the group) said “We have been in discussion with DELWP and Minister Lisa Neville’s office for many months, pointing out the serious risks of proceeding with this unprecedented burn, and requesting that the burn be deferred.”

Though the group has painstakingly, repeatedly and honestly presented solid arguments for deferring this burn, to this day, they have received no responses from DELWP or the Minister that seriously address the issues raised. What’s worse, DELWP has now publicly misrepresented the group’s position, stating that the group has an agreement with DELWP as to how the burn should proceed – this is false.

“We have now broken-off all ties with DELWP Hume Region management because of what we see as insincere community engagement, the cynical manipulation of community concern, inadequate attention to the role of healthy forests in climate change and lack of concern for threatened wildlife.”

The group is calling on the Victorian Premier to intervene in this issue, to re-establish the community’s trust in Government consultation and to show a commitment to managing natural resources for current and future generations.

What has led to this point?

  • DELWP have publicly claimed that they have an agreement with the SSFG re this season’s planned burns (Vic. Country Hour, ABC Radio) –this is completely false. Whilst we acknowledge the need for strategic planned burns, we have consistently opposed this 30 square kilometre burn from the outset and have never entered into any agreements. To suggest that we have, is to suggest that we will be partly responsible for the consequences of the burn.
  • DELWP have repeatedly, and without basis, claimed that there are ‘huge numbers of people’ urging them to conduct this burn. As members of the local communities most affected by these planned burns, we reject this assertion and would say that most local people in the community value these forests and do not want to see them burnt for the purpose of meeting a target.
  • Sound bushfire protection requires collaboration and respect from all parties involved (agencies and community).  That means working together to identify the major risks and the best strategies for dealing with those risks. Misinformation and delay tactics demonstrate that DELWP is not interested in collaboration or community concern.
  • The planned burn flies in the face of Minister Neville’s stated commitment to helping the environment and nature in her newly released Biodiversity Strategy. The burn risks killing hundreds of individuals of the Threatened Greater Glider, as well as scores of Koalas.

Based on all of these State Government misrepresentations and deceptions relating to the proposed burn, our local communities, among them many CFA volunteers, do not believe that we are being respected and valued as regional Victorians.

The Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group is calling for:

1.      An immediate deferral of the 30 sq km planned burn this season and
2.      An independent assessment of appropriate future use of these important native forests.

0409 433 276

ABC Radio interview: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/news/audio/201603/rural-vch-podcast-24316.mp3 start 13:30, ‘agreement’ comment at 18:35

SSFG Parlours Walk

Members of the Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Group inspect part of the area DELWP intend to burn.

Barjarg Rd and Dry Creek planned burns - a vast area to be burnt in a single year.

Barjarg Rd and Dry Creek planned burns (white outlines) – a vast area to be burnt in a single year.

DSC01976

One of the hundreds of wildlife fatalities from last year’s 520 ha Tames Rd burn.

Inner Melb FRB

Here’s what the 30 square kilometer Strathbogie Forest burn would cover in inner Melbourne – pretty big aye.