The Victorian Government has given it’s commercial logging arm, Vicforests, the green light to log part of the Strathbogie forest that has the highest documented densities of Greater Gliders anywhere in Victoria, perhaps Australia. Good one Dan!
And as of 15 February 2018, logging is underway.
In late 2017 government ecologists undertook detailed surveys for Greater Gliders in the Strathbogie State Forest. This was a collaborative project, a welcome opportunity to share and build knowledge. It acknowledged the community’s involvement in forest management advocacy, as well as the citizen science surveys conducted in the last two years. A government report on the findings is being prepared. The project surveyed a number of 500 m transects, both in coupes and in other areas of state forest. The survey detected 14 Greater Gliders in one of the 500 m transects located in Barjarg Flat coupe! These government surveys confirm what last year’s community surveys found: that the Strathbogie State Forest is a Greater Glider hot-spot. The Greater Glider is a threatened species listed under both Federal and Victorian environmental legislation. Where such detection rates occur in other parts of the state, the government is obliged to create a 100 ha protection zone in that habitat. But here in the Strathbogies – zero, nothing!
We have called on the Environment Minister, Lily d’Ambrosio, to intervene and stop the logging in Barjarg Flat coupe. We’ve asked Vicforests to log one of the other coupes they have available. But all to no avail. Neither Minister d’Ambrosio, nor any of the dozen or more members of her government that we have directly contacted, are prepared to speak up about this vandalism.
Why vandalism? Because a lot if not most of the trees cut in Barjarg Flat will end up as firewood! That’s right, just as Parlour’s Creek coupe was logged for firewood, it looks like the same fate awaits Barjarg Flat. Some of the best known Greater Glider habitat in Victoria will end up being burnt for the lowest grade timber product imaginable – firewood!
Does it matter that, as Barjarg Flat gets logged, the government is preparing policy that will determine exactly how the Greater Glider will be protected in state forests like this? By the time this policy, being prepared by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (whose role it is to manage threatened species in state forest) is finished, Vicforests will have logged Barjarg Flat and some of the best Greater Glider habitat we know about, perhaps in the entire country, will end up as piles of firewood in a local timber yard. What clever, creative and thoughtful land managers we are! NOT!
And let’s not forget that the Victorian Environment Minister’s own Scientific Advisory Committee recommended a suspension of logging of a coupe in the Strathbogie Ranges in late 2016, due to concerns about impacts on the Greater Glider – the logging went ahead.
That this area is being logged at all, demonstrates that forest policy in the Strathbogies and Victoria is completely compromised and driven by short-term greed and expediency, rather than long-term vision. What hope have we got?