The Mirboo North State Forest provides habitat critical for the survival of many animals and plants threatened with extinction. Greater Gliders, Powerful Owls, Burrowing Crayfish, Lace Monitors, Superb Lyrebirds and Platypus call the forest home.
The forest and its iconic inhabitants have inspired the local Mirboo North and district community to come together to protect this unique native landscape.
Local community group Preserve our Forests Mirboo North have worked for four years to produce a comprehensive report, Conservation Values Of The Mirboo North State Forest Immediate Protection Area.
Backed by citizen science, this report highlights how important native forests are within the Strzelecki Ranges Bioregion, and why their inclusion in Australia’s protected area system is critical.
It includes original field surveys and research into forest biodiversity, socio-economic, amenity, other forest values, water catchment and forest governance.
The report also details the community campaign to gain protection of three highly valued native forest blocks within the Mirboo North State Forest from logging, planned by state-owned native forest logging agency VicForests in 2017.
The opportunity for permanent protection for Mirboo North’s forests
On 7 November 2019, the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change announced that native forest logging would be phased out in Victoria by 2030. To protect highest conservation value forest areas, several Immediate Protection Areas (IPA) were declared across Victoria as part of this forest policy initiative.
Amongst the list of IPA locations, was one covering three State Forest blocks in Mirboo North (Doug, Samson, and Oscine).
On the 28 August 2021 a two-part process was outlined.
• The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) will undertake a scientific assessment of environmental, biodiversity and other values in areas identified as Immediate Protection Areas (IPA).
• Community consultation will be undertaken by an Eminent Panel for Community Engagement, which will work alongside VEAC.
The panel will consult with the community to seek their views on VEAC’s final Assessment of the IPAs (including Mirboo North) in late 2021. Consultation on the VEAC’s Assessment of the IPAs in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland will take place over a longer period (starting in 2022).
The panel will present its report and recommendations to the Government on the Mirboo North and Strathbogie Ranges IPAs in early to mid-2022, with the report on remaining IPAs to be received towards the end of 2022.
The importance of the report in the future of Mirboo North’s forests
The report Conservation Values Of The Mirboo North State Forest Immediate Protection Area, will be a key input to this process and highlights the many values of the area.
The Mirboo North State Forest is a High Conservation Value Forest, with significant classes of vegetation deemed either vulnerable, depleted, or endangered. Within the Strzelecki Ranges bioregion these Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) are under-represented in the state’s reserve system. Field surveys detected over 200 plant species in four EVCs, demonstrating a diverse, species-rich forest.
• State-listed threatened (Victoria) and nationally listed endangered animals were surveyed and detected including the Greater Glider, the Powerful Owl, multiple Burrowing Crayfish species and the Lace Monitor. Community field surveys identified a significant population of Greater Gliders despite the isolation and small size of these forest areas.
• Iconic and regionally significant fauna species include the Strzelecki (or South Gippsland) Koala, the Superb Lyrebird, and Platypus.
The community’s research confirms the Mirboo North State Forest makes major socio-economic, health and amenity contributions to the local community. These contributions are far above and beyond any short-term state government, financial return that might come from these areas being logged.
The Mirboo North State Forest plays a dual role in maintaining both the quality and quantity of water supply for Mirboo North district, and providing critical habitat for threatened plants and animals and biodiversity conservation. Despite the declaration of an IPA, while a General Management Zone* still applies to the state forests these high value forest areas remain vulnerable to logging in the future.
The formal inclusion of the Mirboo North State Forest in a Nature Conservation Reserve and removal of the General Management Zone is urgently needed to underpin the IPA designation.
Read and download Preserve our Forests Mirboo North‘s report
* As defined by VicForests, General Management Zones (GMZ) are managed for a range of uses and values, but timber harvesting operations has a high priority