MEDIA RELEASE 30 August 2018 |
Conservationists have raised the alarm over continued intensive logging at Mount Cole in Victoria’s west.
A recent Victorian National Parks Association field trip revealed an increase in the intensity of logging in the region, with at least five cases of essentially clear-fell logging, including two very recent areas of more than 30 hectares.
“Most people think clear-fell logging only happens in East Gippsland or around the Yarra Ranges, and would be surprised to learn that Mt Cole is getting the same treatment” said Matt Ruchel, Victorian National Parks Association Executive Director.
Just off the Western Highway, Mt Cole State Forest is 25 kilometres from the township of Beaufort, and an hour west of Ballarat. Mt Cole is home to one of Victoria’s most popular walking tracks, the Beeripmo walk, which can be done as a day or overnight walk.
“Mt Cole has long been a popular bushwalking, camping and picnic spot for generations of people from Ballarat and Melbourne, and its amenity, ambience and ecology is being wrecked by an industrial logging trial. The logging should stop.“
“The scale and intensity of logging highlights the importance of fully assessing the need for better protection and management. Hopefully that will be addressed by the upcoming Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) report which is due to be released any day”.
VicForests, the state government’s logging agency, has been undertaking a logging trial since 2014 as part of its so-called ‘community forestry’ program. About 40 percent of Mt Cole (3600 hectares) is scheduled for some form of logging, and 19 areas have already been, or are flagged for, what is essentially clear-fell logging covering about 360 hectares.
At least five of the seventeen clear fell areas have been logged in the last few years, including two in the last six months. It is assumed that this is part of VicForests three-year trial. Some of the future areas flagged for clear fell logging have significant conservation values and need to be retained to ensure the long-term ecological health of the area.
Over 130 different native birds can be found at Mt Cole. And its forest harbours nine threatened fauna species, thirteen threatened flora species, three endangered vegetation types and two vulnerable vegetation types under-represented elsewhere in Victoria’s formal reserve system.
“Little of the accessible high production timber forests at Mount Cole have been protected in national parks or other reserves, and this needs to be urgently considered in the current Central West Investigation being undertaken by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC)”.
According to the VEAC website www.veac.vic.gov.au/investigation/central-west-investigation, the draft report on the Central West Investigation should be released in the next few days, before the end of August 2018.
Download photos of Mt Cole logging operations
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Download map of Mt Cole showing waking tracks and logging areas