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Your Say – Letters

May 12th, 2022Your Say – Letters

I have worked in the natural resource management sector for 20 years, including as an environmental officer/lead consultant on major projects such as gas pipelines and wind farms.

I have worked in the natural resource management sector for 20 years, including as an environmental officer/lead consultant on major projects such as gas pipelines and wind farms.

In this time I have never witnessed the disregard for environmental process and insensitivity to landscape values that VicForests exhibits. Many of the proposed 175 coupes within the Wombat State Forest are immediately on, or within, the catchment areas of Loddon River, Coliban River, Kangaroo Creek, Lerderderg River, Werribee River and associated tributaries.
The complete removal of vegetation, soil disturbance, loss of biological soil crust and leaf litter (as we have seen in the Babbington Hill coupe) has the potential to have serious, long-term detrimental impacts on water quality and waterway health within these catchments.
The soil disturbance is considerable, the heavy machinery scraping and inverting soils muddying the coupe. If this is replicated throughout all proposed coupes, our crystal clear waterways are likely to run yellow with sediment.
These works are being labelled fuel reduction by VicForests. I owned a business contracting to various councils, water authorities, DELWP and others. I have undertaken various burns and the physical removal of vegetation in the name of fuel reduction.
This is not fuel reduction. When DELWP or Parks Victoria manage fuel loads, they target fine fuels which influence the rate of spread and the explosive intensity of wildfires. Coarse fuels (logs) are not a target because they burn in the aftermath of the explosive fire.
VicForests are leaving fine fuels: tree heads, bark, leaves, small logs and sticks are being piled and often pushed up against trees. They are stripping sites of the protection of ground-storey vegetation and organic matter and piling it to the side.
Disturbing soils, allowing for an influx of weeds and the regrowth of vegetation that will grow in a single recruitment cohort, an incredibly dense growth of volatile species, which will produce excessive fuel loads for decades to come.
The disturbance caused by logging coupes have been assessed in numerous national and international studies, to burn hotter than undisturbed vegetation in the decades after disturbance.
Increased fire risk, reduced water quality, habitat destruction, damaging impacts on greater glider and other significant species, we have a lot to lose here. If the national park had been brought forward, experts in ecology and fire ecology could have been employed, providing stable local jobs and the capacity for real reductions in fire risk.
Instead, we see our environmental values being plundered, our ecosystems smashed whilst in the midst of recovering from the storm. Many of us shed a tear for the forest in the aftermath of the storm; this disturbance, if replicated across the 175 listed coupes, will be of far greater impact. We will lose literally hundreds of acres of our Wombat State Forest.

  • Jeremy Neal, Bullarto


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