Last June, we experienced a wind storm of such ferocity that large swathes of the Wombat Forest were simply flattened. Precious large old growth trees with hollows crashed to the ground, and the forest canopy was rendered unrecognisable in places such as Bullarto. I have been saying – its ok – the patches will eventually create a more patchy forest, with the open canopy allowing for growth of wattles and other midstorey trees. The legacy of logging in this forest has created big areas of even aged trees, with close regrowth, and a bit of canopy opening is ok.
BUT this is on the proviso that we let the forest heal itself. We leave the soil undisturbed, we leave the logs on the ground, for habitat and for the eventually rotting wood to recycle back into the earth for a regenerating forest.
Unfortunately the opposite is happening. “Forest Recovery” logging by VicForests is now occurring in the Wombat Forest, at the moment at Babbington Rd.
Gayle Osborne and Trevor Spiers from Wombat Forestcare have been meeting with DELWP regarding the proposed salvage logging, trying for outcomes that are less damaging. These meetings, for some six weeks, were progressing well – with proposed Greater Glider nest boxes, and input from Wombat Forestcare on avoiding the most sensitive areas. And minimising the damage.
But VicForests, part of the Victorian State Government, is now involved, and the situation is more serious than we could have envisaged!
Where to begin? Well readers may recall that after a very long and protracted process the VEAC committee finally released its recommendations – that sections of the Wombat State Forest be designated National Park (see map below). The presence of significant Greater Glider and Powerful Owl populations was a big driver for the nomination. Ten months later from the announcement, no moves have been made by the Andrews government to actually legislate and make this happen.
So now, out of the 175 “Forest Recovery” logging coupes, at least 80 of these are in these proposed National Parks areas. We believe all of the Wombat Forest is important for its biodiversity values, for its rare fauna and rare plants, its role as wonderful green sponge at the top of no less than five river catchments, and all the precious carbon stored in all these precious living beings. Yet these 80 coupes were so special that the committee decided they were worthy of permanent protection.
And now in one of these very areas, near Babbington Hill – we have a huge bulldozed log landing cut into beautiful sedgy riparian woodland and forest. I attended a photo shoot with Wombat Forestcare and friends from near and far to 1) take photos so that the issue could be widely reported and 2) so we we could all see the damage for ourselves!
Happily, the media has taken up the story – reported in the Midland Express and The Age. And from what I hear, Mary-Anne Thomas is not at fault here, nor DELWP. Amazingly. This is a Dan Andrews decision. And relates to the hideous situation where we have our successive state governments propping up a state-owned organisation that continually breaks the law, and while doing this, they run at a massive loss! Last year the loss was a staggering $4.7 million, which they attribute to “an unprecedented number of court challenges from community environment groups and the destruction of timber in the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 (from the Age article)”. I think this is referring to the incredible work by WOTCH (Wildlife of the Central Highlands)
If you go to VicForests website and have a look at the extent of the logging operations, you can see how so many coupes are clustered together, forming large areas. There will be very significant cumulative impact of each bulldozed log landing, each road widened and all the bulldozed areas to get through the forest to get at each of the logs. I