$80/cu m – that’ll be roughly the value of timber from Barjarg Flat coupe, once the trees have been converted to firewood. Vicforests is at pains to convince everyone that only the rubbish leftover from their logged coupes is used for firewood, but one look at the yard that sources firewood from local forests, puts paid to that fiction. These images show that Vicforests is plundering local forests for a quick buck and the lowest quality forest product – firewood! Firewood is not a by-product of local logging – it appears to be driving the whole enterprise!
Firewood is certainly a useful commodity, but can Environment Minister d’Ambrosio honestly sit on her hands while some of the best Greater Glider habitat in Victoria might be turned into firewood by Vicforests? Perhaps these photos of the local firewood yard just outside Mansfield will help convince her that the process that is meant to protect threatened species, also allows their habitat to be logged for firewood – the system is broken!
Firewood cut from big, straight logs.
Multiple stacks of straight logs wait for processing – firewood?
The sign on the gate suggests prying eyes are not welcome..
Firewood-quality timber left to rot at the coupe.
At 3.5 m dbh, this Messmate is one of the oldest trees we’ve found anywhere in the forest!
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 November 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!
Barjarg Flat coupe, one of the dozen or so coupes on the current logging plan (below), has some of the highest conservation value ‘wet’ forest remaining in the Strathbogie Ranges. DELWP knows this, Vicforests knows this. We asked Vicforests to log a coupe of lesser conservation value instead of Barjarg Flat, but they refused.
Recent community surveys had identified this part of the forest as high quality greater glider and powerful owl habitat. During 2017, government biologists surveyed 25, 500 m transects in various parts of the forest for greater gliders. The greatest number of greater gliders recorded in any transect was 14 – in Barjarg Flat coupe. In East Gippsland, any patch of forest where there are more than 10 greater glider sightings per km, gets a 100 ha reserve where logging is excluded. By here in the Strathbogies, high greater glider densities seem to be a signal for Vicforests to move right in.
DELWP specifically included the coupes that Vicforests was considering logging in the surveys, so that Vicforests could make an informed decision about coupe selection and minimizing impact on threatened species. Then, Vicforests selected Barjarg Flat to log, before DELWP even finished their surveys! Perhaps they just wanted the timber and no complications. So, unless the community can convince DELWP, or the Minister to intervene, Barjarg Flat will go the way of Parlour’s coupe.
See you Sunday.
“Don’t it always seem to go,
that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”
The longer we campaign for improved forest management in the Strathbogies, the more opportunities we have to share this special corner of the north east with the wider world. The 2017 Honeysuckle Art Show was one such opportunity.
This year’s art show theme was ‘Ageing’, so it seemed fitting to celebrate those ancient trees, and the habitat they create, that are so important for the health of the forest ecosystem. The main image (above) is of the forest display at the show in the Violet Town Hall. The slideshow (below) shows the individual pics that comprise the exhibit. All images were taken in the Strathbogie Forest on the regular community activities run by the group. Click to view the slide show.
And we even received an ‘Honourable Mention’, in the ‘Textiles, print making & collage’ category!
This exhibit was part of our 2017 Strathbogie Forest Citizen Science Project. This project was funded with the support of the Victorian Government.
Location of every Greater Glider detection recorded during this study.
As part of our Strathbogie Forest Citizen Science Project, in the last year or so, we conducted 42 hours of spotlighting, along 27 km of forest tracks, surveying approximately 161 ha of forest. Most of these community surveys occurred in April and May 2017 and ran twice per week – Monday and Friday evenings. Twenty-five different people took part in the spotlighting surveys. All fauna detected during the surveys were recorded, but the focus was on three species- Greater Glider (Petauroides volans), Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis) and Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua).
During these surveys, Greater Gliders were detected 202 times, Common Ringtail Possums 46 times, Koalas 27, Mountain Brushtail Possums 16 and Sugar Gliders three times. There were no detections of Yellow-bellied Glider. We detected Southern Boobook Owls on 10 occasions, Powerful Owls four times and Tawny Frogmouth and Owlet Nightjar once each.
Update: Victorian government surveys have confirmed that the Strathbogie Forest contains the highest detection rates of Greater Gliders recorded anywhere in Victoria, possibly Australia. And those forests are about to be logged!
A Strathbogie Forest Greater Glider – threatened by fire and logging.
In reply to Vicforests comments reported in last week’s Euroa Gazette article.
Following their contentious logging of Parlour’s coupe late in 2016, Vicforests stated that it had no plans for further logging in the Strathbogies (Vicforests Feb 2016 media release & Shepp. News). Indeed, Vicforests provided even more detailed plans to DELWP as part of a Ministerial briefing to the Environment Minister, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, in January this year, as reported in the previous post (FOI document, Min023780 Item. 11):
“Once harvesting in Parlour’s coupe is complete … Vicforests has advised they have no plans to harvest further coupes in the Strathbogie ranges within the next two years.”
The community welcomed this position and saw it as providing some breathing space to consider management options for the forest and Greater Glider protection. The Greater Glider is Australia’s largest gliding possum and has recently been listed as vulnerable to extinction by both the Australian Government (link) and Victorian Government (link).
So, it came as a total shock when, last week, Vicforests announced it does have plans for more logging – this year! We know that Government agencies and corporations, like Vicforests and DELWP, choose their words very carefully, particularly when briefing a Minister.
If, as Vicforests now insists, it has always had plans to continue logging in the Strathbogies, then the advice provided to DELWP clearly had the effect of misleading not just the community, but also DELWP and the Environment Minister! Continue reading
A Greater Glider in ‘Tattoo’, a coupe next to Parlour’s that also has lots of big, old trees with hollows.
Such is the advice VicForests have given DELWP and the Environment Minister, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio. In May this year, DELWP released documents under FOI about Ministerial correspondence relating to Greater Glider conservation. In that correspondence, signed by the Minister 3 Jan. 2017, DELWP advise the Minister that:
“Once harvesting in Parlours coupe is complete … Vicforests has advised they have no plans to harvest further coupes in the Strathbogie ranges within the next 2 years.” (MIN023780 Item 11; page 17 of the FOI)
Logging of Parlour’s coupe finished in January 2017. VicForests’ statement is indeed good news and suggests it acknowledges the importance of the Strathbogie forest for Greater Glider conservation. Importantly, there is now breathing space to allow consideration of how best to manage this important Greater Glider habitat.
The FOI documents make for extremely interesting reading, as they repeatedly mention the Strathbogie Ranges and both the fauna survey and advocacy work undertaken by the SSFG. But there are also very disturbing revelations in the FOI documents. Continue reading