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Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Walk to the Little Dargo, November 2022

The fires of 2019/20 burnt huge areas of north eastern Victoria. The remaining unburnt forests are more important than ever. One of these areas lies in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, just south of Mt Hotham. It is a pristine area, without roads, and containing mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash. It is an area of state forest that lies right next to the Alpine National Park.

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest in the upper Little Dargo River, possibly starting in the spring of 2022 once the roads are opened after winter. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time. Extensive roading networks will be needed to access the coupes.

Despite a strong community campaign, as of September 2022, the coupes remain on the VicForests Timber Release Plan, meaning they could be scheduled for logging at any moment. We do, however note that the planned logging road through the Alpine National Park has now been removed from the plan.

If you missed our previous trip to visit the Little Dargo, you have another chance to see this special place.

In conjunction with the Treasure family, we are hosting a walk in to the valley over the weekend of November 19 and 20. You are welcome to arrive on the saturday, and the walk will happen on the sunday.

This free trip will offer:

  • A shorter ( 2 – 3 hour) walk in to the edge of the Little Dargo headwaters
  • A longer (5 – 6 hour) walk into Fred’s Flat on the Little Dargo river
  • A chance to hear from Christa Treasure and Ray Anderson about the cultural value of the Little Dargo and surrounding area
  • The opportunity to help set up a potential base camp should the government continue with plans to log this precious area and protest becomes necessary

We will also be educating people driving through the area about the threats to the Little Dargo and looking for a team to be out on the Dargo High Plains road to engage with people driving past to explain the threat posed by logging.

Details

The Dargo High Plains is about a 6 hour drive from Melbourne, and accessed via a good 2WD road from either the Great Alpine Road or the township of Dargo.

You will need to be self sufficient in terms of food and camping gear and have suitable gear for the walks (we will circulate a list prior to the trip).

Please rsvp here so we know how many people to expect.

WHEN

November 20, 2022 at 8:30am – 2:30pm

WHERE

Dargo High Plains
Dargo High Plains road
Dargo High Plains, VIC 3862
Australia
Google map and directions

P1040195
CONTACT

Cam Walker · cam.walker@foe.org.au · 0419338047

Christa Treasure speaks out on the need to protect the Little Dargo

As has been reported on Mountain Journal many times, a precious remnant of unburnt forest on the eastern side of the Dargo High Plains is in imminent danger of being logged. What makes this place so special is that it sits within the headwaters of the upper Little Dargo River and is completely free of roads. It has survived recent fires in the area, but will be devastated by the plan to cut 11 coupes within the upper valley. This could happen as soon as spring 2022.

A spirited campaign by locals and environmental campaigners has seen the state’s logging agency (VicForests) announce that it will not proceed with controversial plans to push a logging road through a section of the Alpine national park. Now the call is focusing on getting the remaining coupes removed from the logging schedule.

This is an unusual campaign because it draws together a mountain grazing family with environmental campaigners. The Treasure family have grazed cattle on the Dargo High Plains and surrounding areas for five generations. Christa Treasure talks about the historical and cultural significance of the area to her and the Treasure family and how logging will devastate this history.

Continue reading “Christa Treasure speaks out on the need to protect the Little Dargo”

High Country logging unites graziers, green groups in effort to save Little Dargo River

The unburnt areas of the Victorian high country are increasingly rare and incredibly precious.

One of these areas lies in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, just south of Mt Hotham. It is a pristine area, without roads, and containing mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash.

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes,” or sections, of mature forest in the upper Little Dargo River, probably this spring.

This morning, ABC Radio National described the alliance that has formed to protect the Little Dargo River and surrounding areas.

Continue reading “High Country logging unites graziers, green groups in effort to save Little Dargo River”

More mountain forests at risk from logging

In February 2022, VicForests released its proposed 2022 Timber Release Plan (TRP). The TRP outlines the forest areas it intends to log. Community groups are able to submit submissions to the process, but TRPs are generally then ‘rubber stamped’ despite calls for specific high conservation areas to be protected. The comment period for the TRP has now closed.

While there were very significant forests in the Central Highlands and South Gippsland scheduled for logging (such as at Tanglefoot picnic ground in Toolangi, the Wallaby catchment in the Kinglake National Park, Snobs Creek Valley, a large coupe near Noojee, and 14 coupes between Cambarville and Matlock), there are also a number of areas proposed for logging in the high country.

Continue reading “More mountain forests at risk from logging”

There is still time to protect the Little Dargo

The fires of 2019/20 burnt huge areas of north eastern Victoria. The remaining unburnt forests are more important than ever. One of these areas lies in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, just south of Mt Hotham. It is a pristine area, without roads, and containing mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash. It is an area of state forest that lies right next to the Alpine National Park.

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest in the upper Little Dargo River, probably this spring. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time. Extensive roading networks will be needed to access the coupes.

One coupe has already been logged. The remaining coupes have not yet been scheduled for harvesting. There is still time to stop this ecological disaster – if we act now.

Continue reading “There is still time to protect the Little Dargo”

The Little Dargo: a pristine catchment threatened by logging

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash, in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River. This area of state forest in north east Victoria  lies right next to the Alpine National Park. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time.

This area is especially important because the upper catchment of the Little Dargo is in a pristine condition, without roads. It has not been burnt in recent decades, whereas much of the surrounding area has been devastated by repeat fires.

At this point it is very difficult to get in to the upper Little Dargo catchment. However, a rough route has recently been opened into the area to allow visitors to see the area before logging starts.

Continue reading “The Little Dargo: a pristine catchment threatened by logging”

‘Sea to Summit Forest Trail’ market research released

Activists have been campaigning for the creation of the ‘Emerald Link’ park in East Gippsland, which aims to protect the more-or-less intact ecosystems that run from the coast to the mountains. A long distance walking trail is an integral part of the proposal. The proposed Sea to Summit Forest Trail would create a network of walking tracks linking the coastal town of Bemm River and the existing Wilderness Coast walk to the summit of Mount Ellery, the highest mountain in far East Gippsland.

The Victorian government has recently released market research findings, which is part of the $1.5 million Andrews government’s investment in planning for the walk.

Continue reading “‘Sea to Summit Forest Trail’ market research released”

Pristine catchment in VIC Alps to be logged

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest, much of it dominated by Alpine Ash, in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River. This area of state forest in north east Victoria  lies right next to the Alpine National Park. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time.

This area is especially important because the upper catchment of the Little Dargo is in a pristine condition, without roads. It has not been burnt in recent decades, whereas much of the surrounding area has been devastated by repeat fires.

Continue reading “Pristine catchment in VIC Alps to be logged”

The strange land of 12 Mile Hill

The Dargo High Plains, in Victoria’s High Country, and surrounding ranges are facing an onslaught of logging activity. It is well beyond the sealed road network and out of sight for most people. Lisa Roberts reports on a recent trip to this remote mountain country.

‘We watched the mist come out of the forest over the hill and race across the cleared smashed country and fall when it reached the trees on the other side. Up here, the trees call in the clouds and the clouds drop into the trees and this is where the water comes from’.

Continue reading “The strange land of 12 Mile Hill”

Chasing Giant Trees in lutruwita/ Tasmania

Carl Hansen and Jan Corigliano report on a recent mission to catalogue newly discovered forest giants.

This story first appeared in the Mountain Journal print magazine for 2021 (available here).

The tallest and biggest living things in the world are trees. While the biggest and tallest are the well-known Coast Redwoods of California, the towering Mountain Ash (Eucalpytus Regnans) of Victoria and Tasmania have largely escaped the limelight, despite being the tallest trees in the southern hemisphere.

In the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, to the west of the Florentine River in the vicinity of McLeod’s Creek, grows a patch of extremely tall forest unmatched in extent and integrity in Australia. Remote, rugged and barely visited by Europeans, it contains 29 LiDAR-identified “‘hits’ over 85 meters tall. In recent years, the advent of LiDAR (a 3D scan of tree heights from a small plane) has uncovered many previously undiscovered giant trees. But what’s shown on LiDAR doesn’t always stack up with what’s on the ground, so ground surveys must be done in order to see how big the trees really are.

Continue reading “Chasing Giant Trees in lutruwita/ Tasmania”

Fire risk declines as forests get older

There is a long debate about whether logging tall wet Eucalypt forests increases or decreases the flammability of forests. On an intuitive level, it makes sense that allowing forests to become older will make them less flammable: over time the understorey thins out, the canopy closes in and creates a moister micro climate, and fire is less likely to climb up into the crown. In contrast, an area that has been logged will be filled with dense regrowth of highly flammable saplings and be exposed to the drying effect of sun and wind.

This is confirmed on a regular basis by research. New work considers the two common models which are used to describe how fire risk changes over time as the forest grows. The models are the ‘moisture model’, where fire risk initially increases, then decreases, as a stand develops after a fire, and the ‘Olson model’, where fire risk increases as a function of time since previous fire.

This new report – called Fire risk and severity decline with stand development in Tasmanian giant Eucalyptus forest – suggests that the ‘moisture model’ is correct in tall wet forests, and that over time fire risk is reduced.

Continue reading “Fire risk declines as forests get older”

Bushfire review is a chance to protect Alpine Ash forests

In March 2020, just a few months after the devastating 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires, state and federal governments rolled over the controversial Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) which give logging an exemption from federal environment laws.

A new clause has been introduced where a significant event (like the 2019/2020 bushfires) can trigger a Major Event Review (MER).

The review was announced last year, but since then logging in critical habitat for threatened species has continued, and there have been no changes to logging schedules. The review is now open to public consultation and submissions will be accepted until 31 August 2021.

You can find out more about this review here.

Continue reading “Bushfire review is a chance to protect Alpine Ash forests”

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