Less than a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Ranges and Central Highlands forests are a key source of Melbourne’s drinking water and home to the famous mountain ash, the tallest flowering tree in the world.
Growing above 100 metres tall, these towering trees are habitat for the tiny Leadbeater’s or fairy possum, Victoria’s faunal emblem but critically endangered at the national level.
Other residents of the Central Highlands forests are the sooty and powerful owls, the yellow-bellied and greater gliders, the smoky mouse, four hollow-dwelling marsupial species, 70 bird species and 10 bat species.
In 2015, mountain ash forest was listed as critically endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Ecosystems.
On Saturday 13 May, 2017 the summit of Mt Donna Buang in the Yarra Ranges National Park played host to 400 committed people who gathered together to form a giant human sign spelling out support for a new Great Forest National Park in the Central Highlands and Gippsland.
The human sign was 60 metres long, 50 metres wide and made up of passionate people spelling out the words ‘We Love Parks’.
There is now an urgent need to protect these forests from threats like commercial logging. This will allow enough trees to grow old and help key species survive and flourish.
By protecting the forests fringing our city, we also secure our water catchments – Melbourne’s drinking water is inextricably linked to their health. These forests are also among the most carbon dense in the world.
A new Great Forest National Park on Melbourne’s doorstep would be a wonderful community asset and provide the perfect playground for Melburnians wishing to escape the daily grind.
It would also generate new and long-lasting tourism and land management jobs, and save threatened species.
A science-based proposal for a Great Forest National Park has been developed by VNPA and other conservation groups. It would see 355,000 hectares of protected forests added to the existing 170,000 hectares of protected areas in Victoria’s Central Highlands.
Globally renowned naturalists like Sir David Attenborough and Dr Jane Goodall, along with 30 international, national, local environment, recreation and scientific groups, are supporting the creation of the Great Forest National Park. There is also widespread support among the Victorian community.
Now is the time to create a new Great Forest National Park.
> Leadbeater’s Possum: How to save a Victorian treasure fact sheet
> High conservation value forests of the Central Highlands fact sheet
> Healthy forests create sustainable water yields, store more carbon fact sheet
> Great Forest National Parks summary report
> Great Forest National Park: An Economic Boon
> Great Forest National Park: economic contribution of park