Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


Victorian Alps

Extreme logging in the Upper Ovens

In March, Friends of the Earth (FoE) campaigners visited north eastern Victoria as part of a longer trip highlighting threats to the landscapes of the high country. While we were focused on the threat posed to native forests by logging, locals in the Upper Ovens wanted to show us some of the current harvesting of pine plantations in the area.

While pine (Pinus radiata) plantations have been located across the north east for decades, and provide valuable timber and local employment, the logging practices in many instances are appalling. This led to FoE making a series of recommendations to the land manager, Hancocks Plantations Victoria (HVP), about how to reduce the environmental impacts of future harvesting.

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An end to logging in VIC: what does it mean for the forests of the high country?

As part of it’s state budget process for 2023/24, the Victorian government has announced that it will bring forward the shut down date for native forest logging across the state from 2030 to January 1, 2024. This is a huge development, and follows an intensification of environmental campaigning, a series of court cases that stopped logging in significant parts of the state, and a new environment minister following the re-election of the Andrews government in November 2022.

This means the state will be spared another six years of intensive logging and allow us to start the generations long work of restoring a landscape that has been deeply impacted by intensive logging and repeat fires in recent decades.

The full details on ‘what next’ – that is, how the shut down will be managed and what logging will occur before January 1 – are yet to be released. This is expected in coming weeks. There will also be an ‘expanded transition support package’ of $200 million ‘in support for workers and their families to transition away from native timber logging earlier than planned’.

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Logging of fire damaged forests near Mt Pinnibar

The Alpine Ash forests of north eastern Victoria have been devastated in recent decades. As was noted in a report from Erin Somerville for the ABC,

“Fires destroyed many of them in 2003.

Then in 2006 and 2007 they were hit by the Great Divide fires.

The Harrietville fire pounced in 2013.

Gippsland fires flared in 2017.

Then, Black Summer.

Onslaught after onslaught of fire — ghostly black and grey skeletons of thousands of ash trees still jut sharply from the steep north-east Victorian landscape”.

Despite the impacts and potential lose of these forests at a landscape level, logging continues in the area.

Continue reading “Logging of fire damaged forests near Mt Pinnibar”

Giving back and getting involved in protecting the Alps

Much of the alpine regions of south eastern Australia and lutruwita/ Tasmania are public land, and much of that is included in national parks, World Heritage Areas, or other conservation reserves.

But many threats remain, from climate change, logging, over development, weed infestation and feral animals and so on. More than ever the alpine environments need your support.

Here are some practical things you can do to support the Alps.

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Protect the Alps from feral horses – make a submission today

Australia’s alpine areas are much loved for their majestic landscapes and unique plants and animals. The heads of many rivers are found in their snowy peaks, bogs and streams. Almost a third of the Murray Darling Basin’s annual flows are born from the Alps.

But a marauding population of feral horses are trampling these unique high country habitats.

The good news? Senator Pocock has successfully launched a federal senate inquiry into feral horses in the Alps.

Have your say and make sure Australia’s much-loved Alpine wildlife and their habitats get the protections they deserve.

Continue reading “Protect the Alps from feral horses – make a submission today”

Walk to the Little Dargo, November 2023

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 Mountain Gums and 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. 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.

There is a growing community campaign to oppose this destruction. In 2022 and 2023, Friends of the Earth, in conjunction with the Treasure family, who have grazed cattle on the Dargo High Plains for generations, have hosted a number of walks to show people the headwaters of the catchment and surrounding area. Over the cup weekend (November 4 – 7) we will be hosting another free guided walk.

The walk itself will happen on the sunday (November 5).

Continue reading “Walk to the Little Dargo, November 2023”

Mountain Journal magazine #3 is out!

For the third year, we have produced a print version of the Mountain Journal magazine, with content from the Mountain Journal website and many new stories.

You can read the magazine as a PDF here: MJ3.

Look for print mags in your local resort, valley town or favourite mountain hut soon.

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Guided walk to Mt Wills, May 20

Last month Friends of the Earth hosted a mountain roadtrip to visit some special places in the Alps. This included a walk to Mt Wills and the areas threatened by logging.

The forests that will be cut were very impressive, older alpine ash forests.

Mt Wills itself is a magical ‘island in the sky’ of isolated snow gum woodland, largely dominated by older trees.

We had a lot of requests to host another walk, so here it is.

Public walk to Mt Wills and the proposed coupes

Saturday May 20

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More logging along the AAWT

The Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) is the country’s premier long distance walking trail. The 700 km long track crosses the Australian high country from Walhalla to the outskirts of Canberra. More and more people walk the track each year and it is becoming increasingly well known around the world, attracting walkers from Australia and overseas. It is a great example of the sort of nature based tourism that the alps are famous for. Walking, camping, skiing, trail running, mountain biking and paddling all continue to grow in popularity across the alps. People do not visit in order to see logging coupes (and a growing number of logged higher elevation areas are failing to regenerate, slowly transforming much of the landscape into a wasteland).

However, as we pointed out recently, logging now threatens the area between Victoria’s highest mountain, Warkwoolowler / Mt Bogong and the refuge of old growth snow gum woodlands on the summit of Mt Wills. Four planned logging areas will cut across a section of the AAWT as it leaves Big River Saddle and climbs onto Mt Wills, creating a large clear cut across the track (details here).

However, this is not the only section of the AAWT which is scheduled to be subjected to logging. From Mt Wills, the AAWT heads south, drops into the Glen Valley, and climbs onto the next range to the east. As it curves back south, a series of three coupes, with an area of about 130 hectares, will cut right up against the track.

Continue reading “More logging along the AAWT”

A wander up Mt Wills & logging along the AAWT

Victoria’s highest mountain, Bogong (Warkwoolowler in the Waywurru and Dhudhuroa languages, meaning the mountain where Aboriginal people collected the Bogong Moths) is protected in the Alpine National Park.

Most people approach the mountain from the Kiewa Valley or across the Bogong High Plains. There is another route on the eastern side, following the appropriately named Long Spur to Mt Wills. This is all high elevation woodland and forests, and is the route by which the famous Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) leaves Bogong as it heads towards the Snowy Mountains. The 700 km long AAWT crosses the Alps from Walhalla to the outskirts of Canberra, and follows Long Spur from Bogong to Mt Wills before turning south and dropping into the valley of the Mitta Mitta River.

Mt Wills itself is a magical ‘island in the sky’ of isolated snow gum woodland, largely dominated by older trees. While it is connected by the long and high ridge back to Bogong, mostly the land around the mountain falls away to deep river valleys and forests that are initially dominated by Alpine Ash.

Now logging threatens the area between Bogong and Mt Wills.

Continue reading “A wander up Mt Wills & logging along the AAWT”

Logging to start soon in the Upper Jamieson Valley?

It appears that logging operations are about to start in the upper Jamieson River in the Victorian high country, to the south east of Mt Buller. The operations, covering a coupe which is 40 hectares in size (coupe 380-503-0003) will occur right up against the edge of the Alpine National Park, just south of Mt Lovick. This is one of a cluster of coupes which are scheduled for logging. It also includes a significant roading operation to upgrade the existing track.

Please scroll down for updates.

Continue reading “Logging to start soon in the Upper Jamieson Valley?”

Logging and riding don’t mix

Nature based tourism is an enormous part of the economy of many regional centres. Skiing, mountain bike riding, bushwalking, bird watching, camping, paddling, trail running all provide a growing part of the local economies of towns across the country where there are public lands with opportunity for adventure.

Sadly, logging and destructive land activities impact on many areas. The fact is that people don’t want to walk or ride through a logging coupe or open cut. But logging currently threatens a number of important nature and outdoor tourism activity.

Continue reading “Logging and riding don’t mix”

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