Sunday, September 09, 2007

East Gippsland forest protection report 2007

I visited East Gippsland in April this year to have a look at some of the forest areas protected during the 2006 Victorian State election campaign.

Unfortunately, many areas of old growth forest were not protected, such as this forest just off the Yalmy Road.

Yalmy forest

And this lovely wet eucalyptus forest with majestic old growth trees in the Jungle Creek catchment just off the Aberdeen Track was not protected either.

Jungle Creek wet forest

Here is my full report with maps, photographs and information.

Executive Summary

This report assesses some of the forest areas in East Gippsland that were announced for protection during the 2006 Victorian State Election campaign. The purpose of this report is to assess the quality and quantity of some of the forest areas newly protected and surrounding forests with respect to the stated aims of the Government which were to protect under the National Parks Act the last significant stands of Victoria’s old growth forests (available for logging) to enhance tourism and protect biodiversity.

The three areas covered by this report are outside of the proposed new reserve system and are considered to be also all worthy of protection.

The Brown Mountain region bounded by Errinundra Road to the east, Legge Road to the east and Errinundra National Park to the south contains numerous very significant old growth Mountain Ash trees with a largely intact understory. This forest area is a firm candidate for protection due to biodiversity value and age of the forest. This area should be included in the new reserve system to improve its continuity and enhance the wildlife corridor. In addition, National Park signage in this area is in need of immediate attention.

The Jungle Creek catchment south of the Aberdeen Track contains significant old growth Mountain Ash trees, cool temperate rainforest plant species and wet sclerophyll forest. This area should also be included in the new reserve system to improve the continuity of the reserve and further enhance the wildlife corridor. It is imperative that fuel reduction burning of this area of forest includes measures to protect both old growth trees and the wet sclerophyll forest.

Heavily logged forests along both the Mount Jersey and Yalmy Roads and the Rodger River Track detract from the visual characteristics of this region due to loss of forest canopy and large amounts of logging residue. In addition, regrowth areas will have little appeal or habitat value for many decades. This has a major negative impact on tourism potential. Logging activities in these areas should cease – they should be added to the National Park estate.

Some significant forest areas of high quality along the Yalmy Road adjacent to the Snowy River National Park have been newly protected. However, other adjacent areas of equivalent forest have not been afforded any protection. This indicates apparent inconsistencies in the decision making process regarding the selection of areas for protection.

An impressive stand of old growth Mountain Ash with very high visual appeal is located on the Yalmy Road close to the intersection with the Rodger River track. Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) is comparatively unusual in East Gippsland. While sections of this forest have been logged, the overall impression is of majestic trees. The rationale for excluding this area from the new protected reserves is not clear. It should be also be added to the reserve system both to protect the remaining old growth trees it contains, and to boost and improve the integrity of the adjacent Snowy River National Park.

While additional areas of old growth forest have been specified for protection in East Gippsland, there are good opportunities to further add remaining unprotected old growth and wet sclerophyll forest to the reserve system for the intrinsic value of these forests, to create a more robust wildlife corridor link between the Errinundra and Snowy River National Parks and to protect resident endangered species.

No comments: