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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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forestry

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”

Logging on the Dargo High Plains part of a much bigger problem

The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest, dominated by Alpine Ash, in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, an area of state forest that 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. One coupe has already been logged. The remaining coupes have not yet been scheduled for harvesting, and are yet to be surveyed. There is still time to stop this ecological disaster – if we act now.

The Little Dargo is roughly 15 kilometres south of the Mt Hotham ski resort in the mountains of north eastern Victoria. Background on the logging can be found here.

Continue reading “Logging on the Dargo High Plains part of a much bigger problem”

Fire, disaster, and the long road to recovery on the Toorongo plateau

If you’ve ever been to the Baw Baw ski village from Melbourne, you will have driven under the southern fall of the Toorongo Plateau. As you climb out of the Loch River valley into higher country around Icy Creek, a big bulky mountain looms over you. Heavily forested, the southern slopes of the plateau are impressive. The north side, hidden from view from the Baw Baw road, slopes gently away from the summit ridgeline towards the upper Yarra River valley. It is a ‘production’ forest, having been logged for many decades. It has also been hit by multiple fires, and this is some of the story of it’s recovery.

Continue reading “Fire, disaster, and the long road to recovery on the Toorongo plateau”

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