The Mirror News

Countdown to D-Day for Alberton West State Forest

• Landcare stalwart and wildlife advocate, Kaye Proudley, has many unanswered questions regarding logging of Alberton West Forest by VicForests. To the left is part of the logging site and to the right is her property.Countdown to D-Day for Alberton West State Forest

LOGGING by VicForests within the Alberton West State Forest is set to commence on July 9, with two coupes planned.

  Local resident, John McClumpha said that the area to be logged is considered as Old Growth Forest. 

“Vic Forests deny that the area concerned is old growth forest however have not been able to clearly demonstrate that this is the case.”

“The proposed logging area is also known to be home to several endangered and vulnerable flora and fauna,” John explains.

 “VicForests, advise they have a plan in place to cover this contingency however this plan appears to be inadequate.”

  Local farmer and forest management contractor Kevin Heggen, said, “Obviously, there is not any valid reason why this logging should happen and a thousand reasons for it not to happen,” he said.

In a statement VicForests says it takes its responsibility of sustainably harvesting coupes within our state forests for today and future generations seriously. 

“Protecting our precious wildlife in our native forests is central to everything we do. That’s why during our planning process all coupes – including Sturt and Flinders in West Alberton State Forest – are comprehensively surveyed to ensure they meet all timber harvesting and biodiversity requirements under Victoria’s strict environmental regulatory system.

 ”Thorough preparation is undertaken prior to harvesting, and we put special protections in place for priority habitat and species of concern if found in coupes. Such protection measures comply with, and often exceed, regulatory prescriptions,” they said.

  Landcare stalwart Kaye Proudley, whose property adjoins the Alberton West State Forest in Binginwarri, will be directly impacted by the planned logging.

“My concerns are for the endangered and vulnerable species within the forest, burnt out last year by ‘planned burning’ in the east section and forcing the wildlife to move towards the untouched west sections, and now logging the said area where they’ve come to for safety. How can that be in any way seen as moral, fair or having any concern and respect for these species?” Kaye asks.

She explains that in this part of the forest there are Koala, Greater Glider, Powerful Owl and Lace Monitor which did not even appear on VicForests’ list. 

“Laccocephalum Hartmannii is a rare fungi and is also not mentioned on the list, CloverGlycine, Cobra Greenhood, Velvet Appleberry are also present.

“If VicForests forgot two species, how many more have they forgotten?” Kaye asks.

“We should all know that the mycelium (roots) of fungi in a forest are the very basis of life to the trees and plants themselves – without mycelium we would be without any forests.” 

Kaye says she wants to know if any studies have been undertaken by VicForests or any other government body to determine the welfare of mycelium in burnt, opposed to unburnt forests?

  Richard Appleton, now retired, spent 16 years as Stewardship Forester for HVP Plantations in Gippsland and was instrumental in setting up HVP’s koala management, monitoring and habitat mapping programs, as well as managing threatened species and communities throughout the Company’s 30,000ha of conserved native forest located mostly within the Strzelecki Ranges. He also oversaw the independent auditing of all plantation harvesting coupes for compliance with Code and Company standards and is well aware of Code requirements. 

“My role involved active engagement with a range of community groups, and I was personally involved in various environmental projects in collaboration with these groups,” Richard said. 

“I have some significant concerns of my own which I would like to express because I don’t believe they have been previously discussed or dealt with adequately.

“This is an isolated forest remnant barely large enough to maintain biodiversity in its own right.  Such remnants are rare and inherently vulnerable to any kind of disturbance.  

“This one is also of unusual quality with many old growth characteristics including large, hollow-bearing trees that makes it uniquely suitable habitat for threatened species like Powerful Owl and Greater Glider, which are present.  

“Any harvesting disturbance is bound to have a significant medium-term impact on wildlife because of the remnant’s restricted size and limited opportunity for dispersal, regardless of whether large trees are maintained within the coupe boundaries,” he said. 

“I have read VicForests’ email to Kevin Heggen regarding management of Powerful Owl during these operations and consider the reasoning and planned procedure to be inadequate for this species.  

“We are currently within the breeding season which can continue through to October and any disturbance within at least 250m of a nest site can lead to abandonment of the nest and death of the young. 

“VicForests own procedures call for a 250-300m Special Management Zone where disturbance is avoided. There is no detailed information available about the detection sites. The records are also some years old. 

“All this adds up to the fact that nobody knows if there are nest trees or not, whether the birds are still using the same trees or others, or even if the original records were spatially correct. Basing a harvesting plan on such vague information plus an observational ground search in daylight for the needle in the haystack is not adequate,” Richard said.

“I’m sure everyone is aware by now of the unique genetic diversity of the Strzelecki/South Gippsland Koala and what a tragedy it would be for the entire species if we were to lose it.

“The concept of disturbing and extracting timber from such an important and vulnerable remnant forest for short term financial gain is distasteful to myself and most of the community in the area.  

“There seems to be no real need for it, given that the mill in Yarram can currently source an adequate supply of timber to keep operating and people fully employed without it,” Richard said.

  “If anyone has any ideas that can be enacted immediately to stop this senseless act of environmental carnage, we are happy to hear from you, we need more support or we risk allowing endangered species becoming locally extinct.” Kevin Heggen said.

“Please contact your networks for help to stop this senseless act.”


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