NEWS 28 March 2017 |
The much-neglected but loved forests of central west Victoria, including the Wombat, Wellsford, Mt Cole and Pyrenees Range forests, will lie at the heart of a new Victorian Environmental Assessment Council study.
The purpose of the long-awaited investigation, now open for public comment and announced by Victoria’s environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio, is to identify and evaluate the condition, natural and cultural values, and the current uses of public land in the specified area and make recommendations for the balanced use and appropriate management arrangements to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural assets.
A draft terms of reference has been advertised and comments are being sought (now closed).
The Victorian National Parks Association has long called for an investigation into the conservation values of the area’s forests, and produced the report Better Protection for Special Places in 2010.
A year later the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council also highlighted the fact that these areas are under-represented in the state’s reserve system.
The Wombat forest alone is home to 20 rare and threatened plant species and yet much of its floral characteristics are under-represented in public conservation reserves.
The Wellsford State Forest, near Bendigo, and Mt Cole and the Pyrenees Range forests, all have high conservation values and are in need of better management and protection. They continue to be threatened by gold mining, commercial logging – especially for firewood – and a range of other threats from poorly managed uses.
Please send your comments on the Draft Terms of Reference (now closed) to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, highlighting the following points:
- The forests of central west Victoria have very important natural values that need better management and protection.
- The area is under-represented in the current public reserve system.
- Support the investigation draft terms of reference.
- Support the scope of the investigation.
This is the first stage of the investigation. Once complete the final terms of reference will be referred to the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, which can then begin its full investigation.
Such a study usually involves a series of consultation periods, discussion papers and draft recommendations before final recommendations are delivered to the Victorian Government and tabled in parliament. The process is expected to take at least two years.