MEDIA RELEASE 3 March 2022 |

In Wellsford State Forest just outside of Bendigo a stand of large old Box and Ironbark trees, known to the locals as The Big Trees, tower over the surrounding forest. On 2 March 2022 two of The Big Trees were recognised for their scientific and aesthetic values to the landscape, and listed on the National Trust’s Significant Trees Register.

Arborist and Nature Campaigner at the Victorian National Parks Association, Jordan Crook said “The Big Trees of Wellsford Forest are truly remarkable. The fact that they have survived the mining and logging operations in the area is astounding. But their continued survival is not guaranteed. Now that we know where they are we must ensure their safety by keeping harmful firewood collection and mining operations away from them.”

On 2 March 2022, two of The Big Trees were listed on the National Trust’s Significant Trees Register due to their scientific and aesthetic values in the local area. The National Trust’s Significant Tree Register, recorded and updated by volunteers, has compiled tree records for over 30 years from across Australia.

Wendy Radford from Bendigo and District Environment Council said “It is good news for the Wellsford. The National Trust has declared two of the Box-Ironbarks in the Wellsford State Forest as Significant Trees. This confirms the great significance of the whole area of pre-European Big Trees. We now have the opportunity to protect the area in perpetuity.”

Since European colonisation, 83% of Box-Ironbark Forest have been cleared. It is easy, therefore, to understand why The Big Trees that remain in Wellsford Forest are so important in the landscape.

These large, old, hollow-bearing trees take over 150 years or longer to grow in hardwood Eucalypt tree species and are critical habitat for remaining threatened wildlife such as the Lace Monitor and Brush-tailed Phascogale.

The trees are living giants, standing strong despite the threats of the gold rush period and logger’s axe.

The Wellsford State Forest was assessed to be of such high quality that it was included in the Greater Bendigo National Park in the 2019 under the Central West Investigation by the Victorian Environment Assessment Council. Disappointingly, this recommendation was rejected by the Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio in 2021.

The state government will instead change tenure of Wellsford State Forest to the Bendigo Regional Park. The government stated the rejection of National Park status for the Wellsford was “to provide another area for domestic firewood collection (from designated sites) until June 2029, and provide greater flexibility for the North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release.”

Jordan Crook said “It is deeply disappointing that the government rejected the national park status for the Wellsford State Forest. The government needs to kick on and legislate the central west national parks, and ensure the Big Trees of the Wellsford are protected during that process.”

Want to learn more? Read the December 2021 ParkWatch article.

For comment:

Jordan Crook
Victorian National Parks Association
0401635573 – [email protected]

Wendy Radford
Bendigo and District Environment Council