Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Latest information from the Save the Tallarook Forest Campaign
Campaign Update June 2021
Our first round of Greater Glider surveys have now been reported to the Victorian Office of Conservation Regulator OCR and we are waiting on their assessment. Greater Gliders have been detected in large quantities in 10 of the 14 coupes proposed for logging, and we will continue our spotlighting for them in the other 4 coupes. At least 3 gliders in each coupe is enough to trigger protection from clear felling. We have at least that many in the 10 coupes so far, and often more than 8, even as many as 24 in one coupe. This is a major population of this iconic species.
Our Old Growth Forest surveys are finding a very high level of old trees, between half and 90 percent of the trees in a coupe. Our surveys involve doing 4 x 0.25ha surveys in each coupe, to demonstrate the presence of sufficient old trees. We are using the definition for old growth forest in mixed-eucalypt-species forests, as provided by guidelines issued by the Office of Conservation Regulator. Our reports will trigger the Office of Conservation Regulator to commission a complete old growth forest survey for our 14 coupes. Recognition of “old-growth forests” in the Tallarook Ranges will mean “no logging” in the parts of a coupe that are found to be old growth, and this will be all of a coupe in some cases.
Along with several other forest campaign groups, we recently took part in a consultation forum organized by the Office of Conservation Regulator. It was clear that that this body, set up 2 years ago to protect the biodiversity and threatened species in Victorian native forests, is seriously under-resourced. While they can and do institute protections where threatened species are detected, they can’t do all the surveying and monitoring that is required. Nor have they prosecuted VicForests for any breaches of regulations.
The work of forest campaign groups is therefore crucial to protect our forests. Citizen science surveys, monitoring by community groups of VicForests’ logging practices, and reporting breaches, are essential, and BEAM is playing an important part in this state-wide vigilance.
VicForests have made no moves into the logging coupes yet.
Become involved. This campaign welcomes participation. Members who wish to join in the ongoing Tallarook Forest survey work, and learn more about how rich this forest’s ecology is, please contact Paul Macgregor at email@example.com
Back in March 2021....
BEAM’s Save the Tallarook Forest campaign group has now had two meetings with VicForests - a video meeting on 16 February, then an in-person meeting in the Tallarook Forest on 3 March. The meetings have not mollified our concerns about their logging plans for the Tallarook Forest. VicForests have said that they will only cut fifty per cent of the trees in the logging coupes, as if that makes logging acceptable. It does not.
BEAM’s citizen science surveys have discovered a very high number of massive ancient trees, hundreds of years old. The photo (right) shows BEAM Members doing habitat tree surveys. It’s hard to show ‘old growth’ in a single photo. Forest scientist Professor Michael Feller joined us for a field trip on 25 March and he has confirmed that much of the area that is proposed for logging is in fact old growth forest, and should not be logged at all.
That has been Victorian government policy since 2019: no more logging in old growth forest.
Professor Feller also demonstrated to us that this type of Ecological Vegetation Class 23 (Herb-rich Foothill Forest), being a dry forest, has a slower growth pattern. A messmate stump (illegally cut down for firewood, it seems) that he examined had a ring count that suggested 90 years old, even though it was only 50cm DBH. So a tree in this forest can look thin, but be old.
The evidence of senescing at the canopy level is also crucial. Paul Macgregor and David Clarey have now done 3 old growth surveys (50m x 50m plots), and have found 85+ per cent of the trees in the canopy are senescing. This is way over the July 2020 DELWP ‘old growth survey assessment tool’ trigger of >10 per cent senescing.
VicForests told us that they had not yet bothered to do an old growth forest assessment, even though most of the coupes they want to log have not been harvested for more than sixty years, so far back there are no records of earlier logging.
As climate change advances, we need to do all we can to retain existing carbon held in the forests as well as draw down more carbon from the atmosphere. Keeping old growth forest is an important way to do this.
Surveys conducted by BEAM over the last 12 months have also found more than one hundred Greater Gliders, as well as Powerful Owls, Sooty Owls and Koalas. All of these iconic animals face increasing risk of extinction. The forest in the Tallarook Ranges is an island refuge, a cool mountain plateau that provides a refuge for these species from the current march of global warming. DELWP released 400 koalas into the forest five years ago. It is crazy to then decimate their habitat through logging.
We are currently compiling the data from the citizen science surveys we have done so far - rare fauna surveys, habitat tree surveys, and old growth forest surveys - and we will be soon submitting these to the Office of Conservation Regulator. We are very hopeful that these survey results will help us halt the plans for logging.
Beyond stopping the logging, BEAM remains committed to a public education and advocacy campaign for the Tallarook Forest to progress from a State Forest (which allows logging) to a Regional Park or a State Park, which would make it a reserve beyond the threats from logging and habitat destruction.
We are still conducting survey work, to ensure that all the forest is surveyed for rare fauna and old growth forest assessment.
Members who wish to join this work, and learn more about the richness this forest’s ecology, please contact Paul Macgregor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our friends at Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum Inc are heading back to court to defend the judgment that was handed down last year, which gave the possums, and Greater Gliders, increased protection from logging. VicForests appealed this decision, and Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum Inc are close to raising the $100,000 they need to contest this appeal in the Federal Court.
If you want to contribute to this legal fund, and find out more about their campaign, you can do so at https://chuffed.org/project/protect-our-possums
Peter Lockyer and Paul Macgregor
Save the Tallarook Forest campaign