Recently, The Weekly Times published an article about community and industry concerns over logging in the Strathbogie Forest. The role of bee keepers in developing a new form of logging, based on ‘continuous cover forestry’, is to be commended. Anything that puts an end to clear-fell and ‘seed tree’ logging in mixed species forest is a step in the right direction and protection of apiarists and their industry is critical food security. That it took community and industry pressure to achieve this, shows just how myopic Vicforests is, caring little for forest values, or what/how/where the timber will be used.
Though the article presents a positive picture, Vicforests has not committed to using this selective logging technique (‘continuous cover’) in Victoria’s mixed species forests, instead maintaining that there is still a place for clear-fell/seed-tree logging in the Strathbogies. But such a discussion begs a bigger and more important question: should all mixed species forest be available for logging, or are some areas so precious, so value-rich, that they should be excluded from logging and protected for, for example, recreation, regional tourism, nature conservation, research and threatened species survival?
As mentioned in the WT article, that’s the position taken by Save Our Strathbogie Forest. We argue that, with 74% of the original forest of the Strathbogie Ranges already lost, the last areas of intact forest should be protected – and we know there is strong community support for this position and from local government, too. The Strathbogie Forest is now the last refuge for all the forest-dependent species that once occurred across the Strathbogie Ranges, particularly in the face of climate change. The values and opportunities embodied by the Strathbogie Forest (water resources, biodiversity, ecosystem services, recreation, tourism) far outweigh its limited timber values, particularly as we now know what most of this timber is to be used for.
Read the article:
We have documented in previous posts, the strong policy, community and ecological reasons to protect the Strathbogie Forest. ‘Continuous cover forestry’ may well be the technique best suited to logging mixed species forest to ensure Victoria’s pollination industry and food security is protected, but that does not mean all mixed species forest should be logged. Indeed, it is not at all clear that the two coupes logged with this new technique will successfully regenerate. One of the major challenges to regenerate forests is the voracious and destructive browsing of Sambar Deer and to a lesser extent Black-tailed (or Swamp) Wallabies. Across the state, Vicforests has had to erect deer-proof fencing around entire coupes, to guarantee tree regeneration. And sometimes the entire coupe needs to be hand planted with seedlings. Both interventions are extremely expensive and likely make those coupes even less profitable.
Will Barjarg Flat and Parlour’s Creek coupes regenerate into healthy forest? We all hope so, but these coupes contained some of the highest conservation value forest left in the entire Strathbogie Ranges and should never have been logged.