Category Archives: Uncategorized


Hippie Camp Forest Walk – 2nd April 2017

SSFA Hippy CampThis is a Strathbogie Ranges CMN project. This project was funded with the support of the Victorian Government.

Australia Day camp-out

straya-day-aFor more info. read the flier.

VicForests logs Powerful Owl habitat for …. firewood?

Powerful Owl (Image Duncan Fraser)

Powerful Owl (Image Duncan Fraser)

You’ve got to be joking, right? VicForests are spruiking the importance of  firewood as a sustainable product from Parlour’s Creek coupe. Is firewood really such an important part of their business model?

Which kind of means that they’re logging Powerful Owl and Greater Glider habitat for firewood!

Minister d’Ambrosio – can you and your Department of Environment honestly endorse this action? After years of telling us how important it is to have sawlogs for the booming native hardwood industry (NOT!), VicForests have trotted out a contractor to tell us he’s logging some of the richest forest left on the Strathbogie Ranges for firewood, FIREWOOD?! Continue reading

VicForests: a threat to Strathbogie forest Koalas

dscf0157You might have read in a previous post, that VicForests conducted a pre-logging Koala survey in Parlour’s coupe, though they incorrectly concluded that there were no Koalas living in the coupe. The pre-harvest survey methods employed are themselves interesting, but aren’t dealt with here.

VicForests’ Koala Management guidelines rely on two things:

1. That Koalas in tall forests can be reliably and effectively detected.

2. That the contractor logging the forests is suitably skilled, qualified and has the incentive to detect Koala sign and then interpret what it means.

Let’s examine the assumptions.

1. Can Koalas be located in tall forests?

Spot the Koala in this Narrow-Leaf Peppermint - see it?

Spot the Koala in this Narrow-Leaf Peppermint – see it?

Finding Koalas in the canopy of a tall forest is always difficult, whether it’s daytime or night; the most skilled observer will always miss some. The taller the trees, the harder the task and the greater the likelihood of error. To add to the difficulty, tree canopies in forests are usually at least partly obscured by other trees, leaves and branches – not like the roadside tree in this pic. In short, it’s impossible to assess anything more than presence/absence of Koalas in tall forests – as VicForests’ survey has shown.

Then there’s the Koala scat survey. Koala scats are about 15 mm long, 8 mm thick and look a little bit like leaf litter. Here are images of Koala scats and the forest where Conservation Biologists and logging contractors are supposed to look. What chance? Continue reading


Spring-time walk – Wild Dog Rocks

Spring walk SSF


Strathbogie Forest Night Walk

SSFA Lightning Ridge Tk Night Walk Rev A


The Granite Boulder Fields of Tels Mountain.

SSF Walk Tels Mtn

National Party candidate tours our forest

Michael Spencer, Stephanie Ryan National Party candidate Euroa & Sim Ayres

Michael Spencer, Stephanie Ryan National Party candidate Euroa & Sim Ayres.

Recently, we had the pleasure of showing Stephanie Ryan, the National Party candidate for the new Victorian seat of Euroa, around the Strathbogie Forest. Stephanie has a busy schedule and we only had an hour or so, but we had time to talk and drive to several of the proposed VicForest coupes. And of course we showed her what can happen to a ‘mixed-species‘ logging coupe when things go wrong.

Failed VicForests coup

Here’s a reminder – failed VicForests coup, 8 years post-logging. Most of the ‘seed trees’ are dead, the regrowth is bracken-fern, dogwood and plenty of weeds.

We impressed on Stephanie that we’re not opposed to logging per se, but we are totally opposed to the current logging methods used by VicForests. Continue reading

Strathbogie Forests’ rare and threatened plants

The eastern parts of the Strathbogie Forest contain 14 known, rare and threatened plants. This information is drawn from the State’s official records held in the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas. One of our groups’ supporters, botanist Sue Ablitt, searched the VBA records and has prepared this detailed list. These rare plants are illustrated below.

Rare and threatened flora recorded in the  Strathbogie ranges forests

Source of information: DEPI Biodiversity Interactive Mapping Compiled May 2014 for Strathbogie Sustainable Forests Alliance. View the study area map.

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These 14 species (13 illustrated here) are probably not the only threatened plant species within the search area, as there has been relatively little botanical surveying carried out in this part of the Strathbogie Ranges. Nonetheless, their presence is a strong argument for these forests to be careful managed and for at least some areas to be afforded permanent protection.

Visit to Murphy Fresh Greenhouse

This is what's devouring Tolmie native forest 10,000 T/yr - the full glasshouse operation.

Murphy Fresh greenhouse tomatoes – burning 7,500+ T/yr of timber bio-fuel – the full glasshouse operation.

Early last month (June 2014) two of our members traveled to the Murphy Fresh greenhouse tomato operation in Bridge Creek (just north of Mansfield), to see it first hand and talk to the owners about our concerns.

Sim and John have summarized their discussion with Murphy Fresh below.

Initially, Murphy’s burnt briquettes to heat their greenhouses. Then about three years ago, they looked at moving from fossil fuels to something more renewable. They were approached by a VicForests contractor who could supply them with ‘waste’ from the VicForests managed Tolmie logging – and this is when our group became involved in this issue. The logs they received had to be chipped onsite at Murphy’s which was both problematic and expensive. So, Murphy Fresh say they have been looking for other options.

Currently, Murphy Fresh have stopped taking any logs directly from VicForests or from local VicForests contractors. Murphy’s have secured a 5-year deal to take ‘sawmill residue’, from a mill in Gippsland, until 2018. The mill residue now being used is better quality as fuel and cheaper than the supply from VicForests. Murphy Fresh say there is 5-15 years worth of mill residue with this supplier, but they would not commit to never going back to VicForests in future. They did guarantee that no more fuel would be sourced from VicForests or its contractors during the next 5 years.

All-up this is good news for our local forests, although we do wonder what ‘sawmill residue’ actually is. As Murphy Fresh want to improve their sustainability credentials, hopefully the sawmill residue is 100% actual residue from the mill – perhaps worth looking into.

For the future, Murphy Fresh are looking at several options:

  • Planting fuel stock on site (they have ~100 ha of land, of which 5 ha is under greenhouse). This of course would be much preferable to bringing bio-fuel from the other side of the mountains.
  • Sourcing bio-fuel from Farm Forestry North-east (Vic.) or from a local sawmill.
  • Murphy Fresh use about 7500+ tonnes of fuel annually.

Thanks to Russell and Jon Murphy for inviting representatives from our group to see and discuss how their business is run. We’re looking forward to seeing Murphy’s continue to improve the sustainability of their business and local Tolmie forests no longer being cut for bio-fuel and low-grade timber products.

We’ll keep you posted on any updates to this story.