Our central Victorian forests are a place to explore Victoria’s box-ironbark forests, wattles and wildflowers. They are home to 375 threatened species, and are safe havens for us to enjoy.

But we need your help to protect these beautiful forests of the central west.

The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s (VEAC) Central West Investigation has just released a Draft Proposal report. New protections of public land have been recommended for Wombat forest (near Daylesford), Wellsford (near Bendigo), Mount Cole and Pyrenees Range forests (near Beaufort and Avoca) and dozens of smaller public parcels in the investigation area. This is great news!

Until now, these forests have not been formally assessed for 30 years, and contain many ecosystems under-represented in the protected area estate. The VEAC draft report proposes significant additions – almost 50,000 hectares of new national parks; over 18,000 hectares of new regional parks; and over 11,000 hectares of new conservation, nature and bushland reserves.

By area, new park proposals include:

  • Wombat forest to have an increase in size of 28,692 hectares, making a new Wombat-Lederderg National Park! Also a new regional park of 9,149 hectares.
  • Wellsford forest to include an addition of 3,950 hectares to the Bendigo Regional Parks, and the creation of a 3,160-hectare Wellsford Nature Reserve, covering almost half of the Wellsford forest.
  • Pyrenees forest to be upgraded to a new Pyrenees National Park of 16,076 hectares, and a new regional park of 4,160 hectares.
  • Mount Buangor National Park to be extended by 1,406 hectares, incorporating the under-represented EVC, Grassy Dry Forest. Ben Nevis Nature Reserve (1,088 hectares) to be created on the northern flanks of the current Mount Cole State Forest.
  • Many new conservation parks – Cobaw Conservation Park (2,453 hectares); Hepburn Conservation Park (2,714 hectares); Ben Major Nature Conservation Reserve (3,229 hectares); Waterloo Nature Conservation Reserve (1695 hectares); and dozens of new and expanded bushland reserves.

But not everything is rosy. Mount Cole and Mount Lonarch are the big losers in the draft recommendations, with much of the area set to be left open to intensive logging, including around Victoria’s popular Beeripmo Walk and the Wimmera River. This is concerning given VNPA’s recent field trip to Mount Cole, revealing recent clearfell logging. Read more here.

Click map for larger version.
For more detailed map, visit VEAC’s website.

But these draft recommendations can still be changed.

There is stiff opposition. There are some groups actively campaigning against the new proposed parks. Under this scenario, we would see continued logging, and unfettered shooting and prospecting.

Community drop-in sessions were held in Bendigo, Woodend, Avoca, Beaufort and Daylesford, Trentham and Melbourne. VNPA also hosted a special Melbourne briefing, joined by a guest speaker from VEAC, on 17 September. 

We need to show that community support for these newly proposed parks is strong now, ahead of the final recommendations going to the next Victorian Government in March 2019.

New parks will be a plus for threatened species, tourism, recreation and nature in central Victoria.

National parks encourage camping, bushwalking, 4WD, bike riding, and horse riding on specified tracks. Regional and nature parks also allow most recreational activities with the exception of logging, recreational hunting and prospecting in some parks.

We have prepared documents to help you with some talking points (updated November).

What can you do to stand up for nature and parks?

Take Action

Submissions into VEAC’s Central West Investigation closed on 10 December 2018. You can stay up to date on developments here or by signing up to our email updates.


More detailed breakdown in ‘Forests of the Central West’ in September 2018 Park Watch.

Find out about the extent of logging at Mount Cole in ‘Walking the Beeripmo clearfell trail‘ in September 2018 Park Watch.