PARK WATCH Article March 2023 |

Yarra Ranges National Park habitat protected … for now

After a long, combative process with public hearings that featured the council’s lawyers attacking their own experts and long and ill-informed debates on what constitutes Cool Temperate Rainforest, a decision on the proposed Warburton Mountain Bike Destination was finally made.

The government unequivocally rejected the majority of tracks proposed for the Yarra Ranges National Park. Both the minister and the Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) saw through hogwash and hearsays to make a strong science-based decision that observed the state’s threatened species legislation and the National Parks Act.

Caption: Mount Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly. Credit: Eddie Tsyrlin

Months after the decision was originally expected to be made, we were relieved to see the most problematic part of the proposal stopped in its tracks (the large ‘signature’ tracks – trails numbered 1, 45, 46 and 47 – in the Yarra Ranges National Park). These would have irreparably damaged fragile habitat for the critically endangered Mount Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly and hectares of Cool Temperate Rainforest.

The minister’s report notes that the proposed and highly problematic track network presented an ‘…unacceptable risk of significant effects particularly on Cool Temperate Rainforest and Cool Temperate Mixed Forest and the Mount Donna Buang Wingless Stonefly, which are of high conservation value’.

While this is a fantastic decision the process is not over. The minister did review several of the smaller tracks (2-8) in the Yarra Ranges National Park and resolved them to be adequate pending further assessment and survey work within the park.

We’ll continue to track the development and keep our supporters and community updated. Look out for our in-depth analysis of the decision in the next Park Watch and where to now for our work defending the integrity of the Yarra Ranges National Park.

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