PARK WATCH Article December 2021 |

Campaigner Jordan Crook gives us a sneak peek into our upcoming report on the fate of Victoria’s living giants.

Large old trees are not just for marvelling at when you come across them in the bush. They play a vital ecological role, flowering more than younger trees and providing hollows for wildlife dependent on them for habitat. 

But many of these grand trees across the public land estate are under threat from poor management, including poor planning of new firebreaks and fuel reduction, and native forest logging operations that maim and kill forest giants. 

Following VicForests’ proposed logging within 30 metres of the giant Whitelaw Tree on the east side of Mount Baw Baw on Gunaikurnai Country (see previous Park Watch article ‘Living Giants‘), we hold deep concerns that many other significant trees may also be under threat from native forest logging operations across the state. 

Thanks to you, our community of supporters, we conducted a detailed analysis of three significant trees databases and VicForests’ logging schedules. Across Victoria, we found a shocking 162 significant trees in logging coupes or within 100 metres of proposed logging. Trees potentially threatened by logging activity include an ancient Black Olive Berry, a small shrub-like tree on the Errinundra plateau, and iconic River Red Gums on the Murray River.

Ninety-five of the trees we identified are nominally protected within Immediate Protection Areas (IPAs) announced in 2019 – but as the IPAs are yet to be legislated by the state government, their protection cannot be guaranteed.

That leaves 67 of these significant trees in or closely surrounding scheduled logging coupes without protection, open to being damaged or destroyed by the native forest logging industry. 

We know there is a real threat of increased logging in state forests as native forest logging is phased out in Victoria by 2030 and the industry is transitioned to plantation-based. 

We must ensure the protection of these living giants across our state. Not only are they so important for providing critical habitat values – they also offer opportunities for increased tourism as people come from near and far to stand in wonder below them.

The Victorian National Parks Assocation has been working on a log of claims for the protection of large old trees on public land and building a set of recommended actions for their proper management and protection. The recommended actions will be based on science and arboriculture, to help public land managers to ensure these significant trees can survive in a healthy and safe manner across public land here in Victoria. You can help make this work happen by donating today.

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