Tag Archives: forest

Estimating the density of the Greater Glider in the Strathbogie Ranges

The report documenting the findings of the 2017 Strathbogie Forest Greater Glider surveys, conducted by DELWP’s Arthur Rylah Institute, has finally been released.

ARI report front cover

Main findings:

  • The Strathbogie Forest supports a large and regionally important population of Greater Gliders.
  • The Greater Glider population in the Strathbogie Forest has not suffered the declines that have occurred in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland, reinforcing the conservation importance of the Strathbogie Forest population.
  • Government data shows that many parts of the Strathbogie Forest support Greater Glider numbers that exceed the high-density threshold that would lead to forest protection in other parts of the state.

Summary of results (in italics):

  • Greater Glider population in Strathbogie Forest is ca. 70,000 individuals.
  • The detectability of individual Greater Gliders is low, suggesting that raw spotlight counts may greatly underestimate densities.
  • The three surveyed coupes (Barjarg Flat, Mr Hat and Tartan) have a Greater Glider population of ca. 500 Greater Gliders.
  • Greater Gliders in the Strathbogie Forest occur at densities of 2 to 4/ha. [Extrapolating, nine remaining coupes (370 ha) on the TRP have a Greater Glider population of 740 to 1480 individuals.]
  • Generally, hollow-bearing trees were larger in coupes (mean DBH 118 cm), than outside coupes (mean DBH 89 cm), [suggesting that logging coupes are targeting higher conservation value areas of forest].
  • Higher numbers of Greater Gliders were found on transects with large trees, particularly trees >100 cm DBH.
  • The results of the study indicate that higher quality habitat for Greater Gliders includes areas containing a high proportion of Blue Gum and Mountain Gum and with a high proportion of trees larger than 100 cm DBH.
DSCN0708 Greater Gliderv L. Williams a

Strathbogie Forest Greater Glider (Image Lance Williams)

 

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

Mt Strathbogie forest walk Feb. 2016

DSCN0915At about 1000 m altitude, this is the highest part of the Strathbogie Ranges, often snow-covered in Winter, but on this day it was warm and sunny; the blue sky a perfect backdrop for the canopy foliage high above our heads.

About 20 people joined the walk, a ramble really, with plenty of stops to look and listen and learn more about this magical forest. It was like walking through a cathedral of old-growth Blue Gums, Mountain Gums and Narrow-leaf Peppermint (although these were only on the lower slopes). The age and grandeur of the forest was humbling.

_MG_5006

At the midpoint of the walk we stopped under an old, gnarled giant – a Mountain Gum as old as any in these forests. So old, it had grown and lost dozens of upper branches that were now spouts – hollow, tube-like stumps of dead and living wood – structures characteristic of many of the gum-barked eucalypts. Continue reading

Strathbogie forest – stop the Barjarg Rd burn

Old-growth trees in the vicinity of Mt Strathbogie.

Old-growth trees and open understorey in the vicinity of Mt Strathbogie.

There’s much discussion about how fire should be used in the Strathbogie Forest. An aim of any fuel reduction program is to create a vegetation mosaic, so that fuel loads vary and a wildfire can’t just rush through a forest unhindered. Of course, we’re talking here of ‘normal’ bushfires; no amount of fuel reduction or breaks will stop a big fire on a really, really bad day.

Planned burns to reduce forest fuel have been conducted for many decades in the Strathbogies, but have only been mapped since the 1970s (40+ years ago). We are concerned that too much planned burning is occurring in the Strathbogies and that it’s having a negative impact on significant forest assets. Our recent survey of the Tames Rd planned burn showed how ecologically devastating a ‘successful’ planned burn can be.

These maps of the main part of the Strathbogie forest show how much planned burning was done and where, in each decade since the 1970s. For reference, some other forest management assets are mapped: brown= pines, yellow = ‘reserves’, purple = Special Protection Zones (high conservation value areas), green = mapped/modeled old-growth (forest with old-growth elements eg. big trees). The darker-green background is forests that  Click on an image for the slide show.

Its’ interesting to see how the patchwork of planned burns increases with time. Keep in mind that lines on maps don’t tell the whole story. Important detail such as percent coverage, fire intensity, fire impact are not documented for any of these burns, so the maps are only part of the picture. Nonetheless, it’s clear that much of the forest has been burnt in the last few decades.

In the Strathbogies, long-unburnt forest and ecologically mature forest is rare and fragmented. Such forest has particular biodiversity values not present in younger forest and there are many types of plants and animals that rely on long-unburnt forest for survival.

Two things stand out from this information:

  1. The existing fire mosaic is a good basis from which to develop a plan for strategic burning in the future and
  2. The remaining areas that are long-unburnt, that contain ecologically mature forest of high conservation value, should remain unburnt.

Now look at what’s on the Fire Operations Plan for the next few seasons, including 2016. Continue reading

Planned burning decimates old-growth trees – Strathbogie forest

Report: Tames Rd planned burn – impact assessment (2 MB)

“The results of research into the effects of fire on different types of bushland are an important influence on DELWP’s planned burning program.”This Blue Gum, one of the largest trees measured at 1.7 m dbh, killed & felled by the burn.“DELWP and its partner organisations carry out research to understand the needs of animals in different types of bushland and the effect of fire on animals and their habitat. DELWP uses this information when planning and carrying out a burn.”

DSCF4610“This information, combined with other local knowledge, helps DELWP decide where and when to carry out planned burns, and how to reduce the impact of burns on the bushland.”

_MG_3733“When planning burns to reduce fuel, DELWP aims to copy the natural cycles of fire that suit the plants and animals in a particular area. The burns are not as hot as bushfires, so most native plants are able to tolerate the heat.”

Another giant bites the dust.“Occasionally an unhealthy tree may die after a fire or planned burn. However, a small number of dead trees in a forest is normal and these trees become important habitat for some animals, reptiles and insects.”

OMG! The largest living tree in the survey area (1.9 m dbh), burnt and felled by the burn!

The above quotes are from DELWP’s Planned Burn>Plants and Animals webpage, but oh, how different reality is!

DELWP is an organization of many good people wanting to make a difference, but we fear that the juggernaut of policy & operations  just sweeps everyone along and the details fall through the cracks.

Planned burning (and logging) in the forests of the Strathbogie Ranges is decimating the remnants of what old-growth vegetation has survived 150 years of white-man’s management. If our survey results are anything to go by, the few big, old trees that remain, along with hollow-dependent fauna and forest resilience, are in real danger, thanks to the scale and type of planned burning currently in operation

Late in 2015 members of the SSFG conducted a number of transect surveys to assess the impact of this planned burn on the old-growth trees left in parts of that forest

Report: Tames Rd planned burn – impact assessment (2 MB)

As a result of our surveys, the Strathbogie Suatainable Forests Group has concluded:

1. DELWP needs to acknowledge that the Tames Rd planned burn has had disastrous environmental consequences for the forest.
2. Adopting current planned burn practice for the other scheduled burns in the Strathbogies is totally unacceptable.
3. The planned burning schedule for the Strathbogie forest needs a major, evidence-based, re-think and an unequivocal backing away from the 6700 ha target as set out in the current FOP.
4. In the absence of DELWP agreeing to the above points, we are calling for a complete moratorium on planned burning in the Strathbogies (LMZ and BMZ), pending a VEAC investigation into the management and values of this important natural asset.

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For more background, previous posts on this topic include:

One-third of Strathbogie forest to be burnt in 2016-18

Planned burning – an ecological disaster?

Tames Rd planned burn – survey 2

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Lightning Ridge Tk – A Winter Night’s Walk

Greater Glider (Photo Deane Lewis)

Greater Glider (Photo Deane Lewis)

A clear, blue-sky day was followed by a clear, still night ideal for spotlighting. We traveled to Lightning Ridge Tk, fourteen of us in six cars, to see what lives in this part of the forest – due for a planned burn next season.

On a previous day-time visit we saw this forest of Narrow-leaf Peppermint, Victorian Blue Gums, Messmate Stringybarks and Manna Gums – and still a few large trees, particularly along the Sandy Creek. Much of this area was logged about 15 years ago and the signs are obvious: Continue reading

How old is this Strathbogie forest giant?

Messmate Stringybark, Eucalyptus obliqua.

Messmate Stringybark (Eucalyptus obliqua) south side of tree.

200 years old, 300 years old, more? It’s hard to say, but these trees have been around a long time and deserve to grow old gracefully. And though this forest has been logged for more than a century (note the young trees surrounding the giant), logging up until a few decades ago was sensitive enough to allow quite a few of these forest giants to survive; but their days may be numbered. In the harsh world of modern, industrial logging, there seems little room for grand trees like this one. Continue reading