Within easy reach from Melbourne, Ballarat, Daylesford, Trentham, Gisborne and Mount Macedon, the Wombat State Forest is one of central Victoria’s most important forests.
Valued by locals and visitors alike, its 45,100 hectares are naturally rich, with many threatened species, and are important for water quality in central Victoria.
More than 350 species of native plants and 290 species of native animals live in the Wombat Forest, including 15 threatened fauna species. It is also an important breeding habitat for many migratory birds and home to powerful owls and greater gliders, brush-tailed phascogale, spotted quail-thrush and square-tailed kite, the nationally endangered spot-tailed quoll, the nationally vulnerable growling grass frog and the state endangered masked owl.
There are at least 25 rare and threatened plant species, including the state-listed and endangered small sickle greenhood Pterostylis lustra and the endemic wombat bush-pea Pultenaea reflexifolia var. reflexifolia. And the array of colourful fungi is stunning.
The southeast corner of Wombat State Forest, which adjoins Lerderderg State Park, has sedgy riparian woodland and damp forest forming a transition to the drier forests further north. Heritage-listed Lerderderg River meanders through state forest and the state park.
Some 70% of vegetation types within Wombat State Forest are under-represented in parks within the Central Victorian Uplands bioregion, highlighting the need for better protection and conservation.
In our detailed Better protection for special places report released in 2010, we identified the main areas of Wombat with high conservation significance and worthy of better protection under the National Parks Act.
Threats to the Wombat Forest
This region of Victoria had a gold mining history, but there has been no large-scale commercial mining within Wombat State Forest for many years, although there have been a number of exploration licences and proposals put forward in recent years.
As mining in the Wombat would involve clearing areas of forest and other vegetation, it raises significant issues about erosion, sedimentation and heavy-metal contamination of the forest and its waterways. And with thousands of tonnes of material being hauled out for processing, a dramatic increase in the volume of trucks on the roads poses a number of serious safety issues.
The Wombat Forest had been heavily logged in the past, while there is no current large scale commercial logging, this can be returned with the stroke of a pen.
Protecting the Wombat Forest
For many years VNPA and local conservation groups, such as Wombat Forestcare, have advocated for the forest to be independently assessed by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC), and protected in perpetuity under the National Parks Act.
In November 2016 the Andrews Government released the terms of reference for that VEAC study, which will assess the value of the Wombat Forest and make recommendations about future land use, including which parts should be made national park (read more).
Wombat in a nutshell
Very important water catchment. It contains the headwaters of six major river systems:
- Moorabool, Werribee and Lerderderg fivers flow to the south, the Loddon, Coliban and Campaspe to the north
- regional habitat biolink, providing crucial habitat for movement of species across the central Victorian landscape
- biodiversity hotspot
- valuable tourist destination for regional Victoria
- important area for recreation and amenity to local communities
- beekeeping area
- valuable carbon store
- threatened by poor management, mining and a return to logging.