East Gippsland forest protection report

Author:

Peter Campbell

Date of forest visit

14 – 16 April 2007

Report issue date

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Version

Final, v1.0

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Executive summary. 2

Introduction. 3

Background. 3

Overall context 5

Brown Mountain region. 7

Summary and recommendations. 7

Brown Mountain region photos. 8

Aberdeen Track. 10

Summary and recommendations. 10

Aberdeen Track Photos. 11

Yalmy Road and Mount Jersey Road. 13

Mount Jersey Road logging. 14

Yalmy Road newly protected areas. 17

Yalmy eucalyptus regnans forests. 17

Logging along Rodger River Track. 21

Appendix 1: East Gippsland forest photos waypoint log. 24

Appendix 2: Waypoint coordinates. 25

Appendix 3: Labor protects last significant old growth stands (Fact sheet) 26

Appendix 4: Proposed new parks and reserves in East Gippsland. 27

 


Executive summary


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This report assesses some of the forest areas in East Gippsland that were announced for protection during the 2006 Victorian State Election campaign. The purpose of this report is to assess the quality and quantity of some of the forest areas newly protected and surrounding forests with respect to the stated aims of the Government which were to protect under the National Parks Act the last significant stands of Victoria’s old growth forests (available for logging) to enhance tourism and protect biodiversity.

 

The three areas covered by this report are outside of the proposed new reserve system and are considered to be also all worthy of protection.

 

The Brown Mountain region bounded by Errinundra Road to the east, Legge Road to the east and Errinundra National Park to the south contains numerous very significant old growth Mountain Ash trees with a largely intact understory.  This forest area is a firm candidate for protection due to biodiversity value and age of the forest.  This area should be included in the new reserve system to improve its continuity and enhance the wildlife corridor.  In addition, National Park signage in this area is in need of immediate attention.

 

The Jungle Creek catchment south of the Aberdeen Track contains significant old growth Mountain Ash trees, cool temperate rainforest plant species and wet sclerophyll forest.  This area should also be included in the new reserve system to improve the continuity of the reserve and further enhance the wildlife corridor.  It is imperative that fuel reduction burning of this area of forest includes measures to protect both old growth trees and the wet sclerophyll forest.

 

Heavily logged forests along both the Mount Jersey and Yalmy Roads and the Rodger River Track detract from the visual characteristics of this region due to loss of forest canopy and large amounts of logging residue.  In addition, regrowth areas will have little appeal or habitat value for many decades.  This has a major negative impact on tourism potential. Logging activities in these areas should cease – they should be added to the National Park estate.

 

Some significant forest areas of high quality along the Yalmy Road adjacent to the Snowy River National Park have been newly protected.  However, other adjacent areas of equivalent forest have not been afforded any protection. This indicates apparent inconsistencies in the decision making process regarding the selection of areas for protection.

 

An impressive stand of old growth Mountain Ash with very high visual appeal is located on the Yalmy Road close to the intersection with the Rodger River track. Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) is comparatively unusual in East Gippsland.  While sections of this forest have been logged, the overall impression is of majestic trees.  The rationale for excluding this area from the new protected reserves is not clear.  It should be also be added to the reserve system both to protect the remaining old growth trees it contains, and to boost and improve the integrity of the adjacent Snowy River National Park.

 

While additional areas of old growth forest have been specified for protection in East Gippsland, there are good opportunities to further add remaining unprotected old growth and wet sclerophyll forest to the reserve system for the intrinsic value of these forests, to create a more robust wildlife corridor link between the Errinundra and Snowy River National Parks and to protect resident endangered species.

 

 


Introduction

This report assesses some of the forest areas about to be protected that were announced during the 2006 Victorian State Election campaign.  Material and photographs for this report were gathered during a visit to East Gippsland forests in the Goongerah region on 14 – 16 April 2007.

 

The purpose of this report is to assess the quality and quantity of some of the forest areas newly protected and surrounding forests.

 

 

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank Jill Redwood for her assistance and advice during my visit to East Gippsland to gather material for this report.

 

 

Background

During the 2006 Victorian State Election campaign, the Victorian Government made the following commitments relating to East Gippsland forests:

 

“Over the next 4 years a re-elected Bracks Government will:

 

 

Source:    Victoria’s National Parks and Biodiversity,

Policy for the 2006 Victorian Election (Bracks Government), 17/11/2006

 


 

 

Further details on this policy were provided in an accompanying fact sheet:

 

·        The investigation by the Victorian Environment and Assessment Council (VEAC) into the Goolengook block would cease as the block will be permanently protected.

·        In addition to the Goolengook Block remaining significant stands of old growth forest currently available for timber harvesting will be immediately protect by including them in the National Parks and reserves system.

·        It doesn’t make sense from an environmental or commercial perspective to allow the few remaining large stands of old growth forests to be logged. In addition to their visual majesty, old growth forests are rich sources of biodiversity and habitat to a range of species.

·        The benefits for tourism, and market access opportunities for the timber industry from protecting the remaining significant old growth timber stands, clearly outweigh the on going minimal returns from the harvesting of old growth forest.

 

Source:          Labor protects last significant old growth stands, 17 November 2006.

See Appendix 3 for more details

 

The fact sheet also contained a map of proposed new parks and reserves in East Gippsland (see Appendix 4 for a larger version of this map).

 

 

My interest in visiting East Gippsland was to assess the quantity and quality of the new proposed parks and reserves.

 

I chose to visit three main areas that were either adjacent to outside of the proposed new reserve areas identified on this map.

 


Overall context

 

 

Map 1. Region location map

 

The areas I chose to visit and their regional location are depicted in Map 1.

 

·         “B” refers to Legge Track forest area on Brown Mountain

·         “A” refers to the Aberdeen Track area in the Jungle Creek catchment

·         “Y” refers to Yalmy eucalypt forests and the Yalmy Road

 

These areas are shown in more detail in Map 2 below.

 

 

Map 2. Location context map

 


 

 

The three areas visited overlaid on the protected areas map provided by the government are illustrated in Map 3.

 

 

Map 3. Yalmy, AberdeenTrack, Brown Mt region and reserve overlay

 

Each of these three areas are outside of the announced new proposed reserve areas and will be covered in more detail in the following sections, with photographs provided.



Brown Mountain region

 

 

Map 4. Brown Mt

 

The Brown Mountain area visited was to the east of Legge Road just South of part of the Errinundra National Park.  This area contains numerous very large old growth Mountain Ash trees with an intact understory.  This forest area is a firm candidate for protection due to value and age of the forest, yet it has been omitted from the proposed new reserve area.

Summary and recommendations

The Brown Mountain region bounded by Errinundra Road to the east, Legge Road to the east and Errinundra National Park to the south contains numerous very significant old growth Mountain Ash trees with a largely intact understory.

 

This area should be included in the new reserve system to improve the continuity of the reserve and enhance the wildlife corridor.

 


 Brown Mountain region photos

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Mountain, WP006. Old growth eucalypt, unprotected. Obvious candidate forest for protection. DSC_0605.jpg

Brown Mountain, WP006 Fox baiting warning sign for buried fox baits. DSC_0608.jpg

 

Errinundra NP, Brown Mountain, WP006. Adjacent to equivalent unprotected forest. This protected forest has equivalent characteristics to the adjacent unprotected forest. DSC_0613.jpg

Errinundra NP, Brown Mountain, WP006

National Park signage in disrepair This part of the national park is suffering from neglect. The characteristics of the forest would encourage visitors, but the lack of signage and information is an obvious barrier to visitors. DSC_0619.jpg

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Errinundra NP, Brown Mountain, WP006. Newly protected old growth. DSC_0629.jpg

Brown Mt, WP008. Unprotected old growth Mountain Ash. DSC_0644.jpg

 

Gramps tree base, Brown Mt, WP009. Unprotected old growth.  A prime candidate for protection. DSC_0649.jpg

 


 

 

Aberdeen Track

 

 

 

 

Map 5: Aberdeen Track

 

The Aberdeen Track traverses a ridge above the Jungle Creek catchment to the north west of Goongerah.  This area is outside the new reserve system announced.

 

A fuel reduction burn was scheduled and signed for Autumn 2007 season.  I spoke with the Bendoc Department of Sustainability and Environment office and was informed that these burns were required as part of the fire management plan to protect local residents and to protect the ecological integrity of the forest.

 

I queried whether any management plans were in place to protect high conservation value parts of this forest area, specifically the cool temperate rainforest gullies the would suffer greatly from burning, and was informed that no special measures were to be taken in the regard.

Summary and recommendations

Areas of forest in the Jungle Creek catchment below the Aberdeen Track contain significant old growth Mountain Ash trees, cool temperate rainforest plant species and wet sclerophyll forest.

 

This area should be included in the new reserve system to improve the continuity of the reserve and enhance the wildlife corridor.

 

Fuel reduction burning of this area of forest should include measures to protect old growth trees and wet sclerophyll forest.

 


Aberdeen Track Photos

 

 

Aberdeen Track WP015. Jungle Creek forest.

Aberdeen Track, WP016. DSC_0676.jpg

Fern understory and some moist cool temperate rainforest species present. Candidate for protection. DSC_0674.jpg

Unprotected old growth, wet sclerophyll. Old growth eucalypts and some moist cool temperate rainforest species present.  Candidate for protection

 

Aberdeen Track, WP016. Unprotected old growth. DSC_0677.jpg

Aberdeen Track, WP016 . DSC_0681.jpg

Wet sclerophyll and old growth eucalypt forest.

Tree fern, Unprotected wet sclerophyll forest

 

Aberdeen Track, WP016. DSC_0685.jpg

Aberdeen Track, WP016. DSC_0687.jpg

Unprotected old growth, wet sclerophyll forest

Unprotected old growth, wet sclerophyll forest

 


 

Aberdeen Track, WP016. DSC_0694.jpg

Aberdeen Track, WP016. DSC_0698.jpg

Unprotected old growth, wet sclerophyll

Unprotected old growth, wet sclerophyll

 

Aberdeen Track, WP016. DSC_0699.jpg

Aberdeen Track, WP016, DSC_0703.jpg

Unprotected old growth, wet sclerophyll forest

Wet sclerophyll understory

 

Aberdeen Track, WP016

Unprotected old growth, wet sclerophyll forest


Yalmy Road and Mount Jersey Road

The Mount Jersey Road heads northeast through heavily logged forests to join the Yalmy Road.  The Yalmy Road travels along the boundary of the Snowy River National Park (to the north west) and unprotected Yalmy forests (to the south east), many of which have been heavily logged.

 

 

 

Map 6. Yalmy Road and Mt Jersey Road overview map

 

 

Map7. Yalmy Road and Mt Jersey Road detail map

 

 

Two prominent logged areas were visited on the Mt Jersey Road, numbers 17 and 18 in map 7.  Photographs of these areas follow.


Mount Jersey Road logging

Significant logging activity has occurred in the forests along both the Mount Jersey and Yalmy Roads.  This logging has resulted in the clearfell destruction of forests, which has detracted greatly from the value of these forests for both tourism and their biodiversity and habit value.

 

The Yalmy forests are of equivalent biological value to those of the adjacent Snowy River National Park.

 

Remains of previous forest being left to rot and loss of the forest canopy have a very high visual impact.  Logging activities in these areas should cease.  These areas should be added to the National Park estate.

 

 

 

 

 

Mt Jersey Road, WP017. DSC_0705.jpg, DSC_0707.jpg

Regrowth with low intrinsic value and stump. Regrowth forest in unremarkable

 

 

Mt Jersey Road, WP018, DSC_0712.jpg

Mt Jersey Road, WP018, DSC_0713.jpg

Regrowth in logging area. Significant visual negatives due to loss of canopy

Regrowth in logging area

 

Mt Jersey Road, WP018, DSC_0716.jpg

Mt Jersey Road, WP018, DSC_0718.jpg

Regrowth in logging area

Regrowth and waste in logging area

 

Mt Jersey Road, WP018. Regrowth and waste in logging area. Surround forest of high value, DSC_0720.jpg, DSC_0721.jpg

 

Mt Jersey Road, WP018, DSC_0726.jpg

Mt Jersey Road, WP018, DSC_0727.jpg

Waste

Old stump among regrowth


 

 

 

DSC_0722.jpg

DSC_0723.jpg

 

 

 

Mt Jersey Road, WP018. Logging waste left to rot in logging area detracts from landscape, DSC_0724.jpg, DSC_0725.jpg

 


Yalmy Road newly protected areas

Some significant areas of high quality have been newly protected.  However, adjacent areas of equivalent forest have not been afforded any protection. This indicates apparent inconsistencies in the decision making process regarding the selection of areas for protection.

 

 

Yalmy Road, WP019, DSC_0728.jpg

Yalmy Road, WP019, DSC_0731.jpg

Newly protected

Special Protection Zone (SPZ)

 

Yalmy Road, WP021, DSC_0732.jpg

Yalmy Road, WP022, DSC_0734.jpg

Snowy River National Park

SPZ, newly protected area on left

 

Yalmy Road WP023, DSC_0735.jpg

Yalmy Road WP023, DSC_0736.jpg

Snowy River NP on right, newly protected on left

Newly protected

 

Yalmy eucalyptus regnans forests

 

Map 8. Yalmy eucalyptus regnans forest detail

 

Near the junction of the Yalmy Road and the Rodger River track, an entire segment of forest depicted as the “bulge” in Map 8 and covering waypoints 24, 25 and 26, has been omitted from the new reserves.  This area of forest contains large stands of eucalyptus regnans (Mountain Ash) trees of considerable age and visual appeal.  This species is comparatively unusual in East Gippsland.  While sections of this forest have been logged, the overall impression is of majestic trees.  The rationale for excluding this area from the new protected reserves is not clear.

 

The “bulge” should be added to the reserve system both to protect the remaining old growth trees it contains, and to provide a contiguous corridor for wildlife.

 

 

Yalmy Road, Unprotected Eucalyptus Regnans, DSC_0781.jpg

 


 

 


Yalmy Road Mountain ash, WP024, DSC_0741.jpg

Yalmy Road Mountain ash, WP024, DSC_0742.jpg

Unprotected old growth

Unprotected old growth

 

Yalmy Road Mountain ash, WP024, DSC_0744.jpg

Yalmy Road Mountain ash, WP024, DSC_0746.jpg

Unprotected old growth

Unprotected old growth

 

Yalmy Road, WP026, DSC_0748.jpg

Yalmy Road, WP026, DSC_0750.jpg

Unprotected old growth

Unprotected old growth

 


 

 

 

 

 

Yalmy Road, WP026, DSC_0751.jpg

Yalmy Road, WP026, DSC_0753.jpg

Unprotected old growth

Unprotected old growth

 

 

 

Yalmy Road, DSC_0779.jpg

Yalmy Road, DSC_0780.jpg

Unprotected Eucalyptus Regnans

Unprotected Eucalyptus Regnans

 


Logging along Rodger River Track

Significant logging activity is evident adjacent to the Yalmy Road and Rodger River track junction and along the Rodger River track up to the boundary with the Snowy River National Park.  This logging is characterised by large areas of clearfelling, many dead habitat trees and the loss of high quality forest.

 

From the summit of the knoll (WP028) logged skylines are visible in the distance in the Yalmy forests.  This is a clear breach of the Code of Forest practice, which stipulates this practice is not permitted. The loss of biodiversity is evident in these logged areas too.  Wattle regrowth often crowds out most other species, and little habitat is left for possums, owls, quolls and other animals that need them.

 

Yalmy Road, near Rodger River track, WP025. Logged area, DSC_0747.jpg

 

Near Rodger River tk & Yalmy Rd WP026, DSC_0755.jpg

Near Rodger River tk & Yalmy Rd WP026, DSC_0756.jpg

Dead habit tree, logged area

Dead habit tree, logged area

 

 

 

 

Near Rodger River Track & Yalmy Rd WP026. Logged area, DSC_0759.jpg

Near Rodger River Track & Yalmy Rd WP026. Logged area, DSC_0763.jpg

 

 

 

Yalmy Road, WP027, DSC_0764.jpg

Yalmy Road, WP027, DSC_0765.jpg

Regrowth Wattle

Regrowth Wattle & Eucalpyt transition

 

 

 

Rodger River Track WP028. Logged area, DSC_0766.jpg

Rodger River track WP028. Logged area, DSC_0767.jpg

 


 

Rodger river track area, WP028, DSC_0771.jpg

Rodger river track area, WP028, DSC_0773.jpg

East to skyline breach

East to skyline breach

 

Rodger river track, WP028, DSC_0776.jpg

Rodger river track, WP028, DSC_0778.jpg

Logged area boundary with Snowy River NP

Tree damage, logged area boundary with Snowy River NP

 

Old growth eucalypt in Snowy River National Park near Waratah flat, DSC_0782.jpg

Log truck with Eucalyptus logs in Orbost

 


Appendix 1: East Gippsland forest photos waypoint log

Photographer: Peter Campbell

Day 1 – 15 April 2007

Location – Brown Mountain, Legge Road

 

Waypoint

From

To

Description

 

DSC_0585.JPG

DSC_0586.JPG

Brown Mt, near Gap reserve P

 

DSC_0587.JPG

DSC_0592.JPG

Gap reserve, P

 

DSC_0593.JPG

 

Legge Road, l U, r P

 

DSC_0594.JPG

 

 

WP0005

DSC_0595.JPG

DSC_0598.JPG

Legge Rd L U, r P

WP006

DSC_0599.JPG

DSC_0601.JPG

Legge Rd, Postmaster Tk l U, r P

 

DSC_0602.JPG

DSC_0606.JPG

Unprotected

 

DSC_0607.JPG

 

Protected

 

DSC_0608.JPG

DSC_0619.JPG

Unprotected

 

DSC_0620.JPG

DSC_0642.JPG

P. Errinundra NP OG

WP007

DSC_0643.JPG

 

UP, feed tree

WP008

DSC_0644.JPG

DSC_0647.JPG

UP, OG bases

WP009

DSC_0648.JPG

DSC_0653.JPG

Gramps base UP

WP010

DSC_0654.JPG

DSC_0656.JPG

Grey Gum, Shining gum UP

 

DSC_0657.JPG

 

Ferns, unprotected

WP011

DSC_0658.JPG

DSC_0659.JPG

Tall tree UP

WP012

DSC_0660.JPG

DSC_0662.JPG

Tree ferns & trees UP

 

DSC_0663.JPG

 

Tall tree base (Jill) UP

 

DSC_0664.JPG

 

Tall tree UP

 

DSC_0665.JPG

DSC_0669.JPG

Goongerah, Mt Ellery UP

 

Day 2 – 16 April 2007

Location – Aberdeen Track, Mount Jersey Road, Yalmy Road

 

Waypoint

From

To

Comments

WP014

DSC_0670.JPG

DSC_0672.JPG

Rainforest gully, burn scheduled

WP015

DSC_0673.JPG

DSC_0674.JPG

Gully, burn scheduled

WP016

DSC_0675.JPG

DSC_0676.JPG

Old growth, U, burn scheduled

WP017?

DSC_0705.JPG

DSC_0708.JPG

Regrowth, U

WP018

0709

0727

Coop regrowth

WP019

0728

0730

Protected

WP020

0731

 

SPZ

WP021

0732

 

Snowy River NP

WP022

0734

 

SPZ, New protected area L

WP023

0735

 

Snowy River NP L, New protected L

 

0736

0739

New reserve

WP024

0740

0746

Mountain ash, not protected

WP025

0747

 

Coop

WP026

0748

0763

Unprotected

WP027

0764

 

Transition wattle (UP)

 

0765

 

Transition eucalypt (UP)

WP028

0766

0775

Rodger river track area

WP029

0792

0793

Goongerah, protected

 


Appendix 2: Waypoint coordinates

 

Datum

WGS 84

Number

Zone

Easting

Northing

Latitude

Longitude

WP

UTM

1

55H

356926

5806268

-37.87985

145.37312

WP

UTM

2

55H

346569

5813330

-37.81454

145.2569

WP

UTM

3

54H

739340

5720275

-38.63377

143.74966

WP

UTM

4

54H

739943

5715479

-38.67678

143.75823

WP

UTM

5

55H

655269

5875049

-37.25818

148.75093

WP

UTM

6

55H

654957

5873682

-37.27055

148.7477

WP

UTM

7

55H

655366

5874674

-37.26154

148.75211

WP

UTM

8

55H

655410

5874665

-37.26162

148.75261

WP

UTM

9

55H

655437

5874658

-37.26168

148.75291

WP

UTM

10

55H

655492

5874688

-37.2614

148.75352

WP

UTM

11

55H

655529

5874718

-37.26112

148.75393

WP

UTM

12

55H

655559

5874735

-37.26096

148.75427

WP

UTM

13

55H

655237

5874607

-37.26217

148.75067

WP

UTM

14

55H

649015

5869467

-37.3095

148.68156

WP

UTM

15

55H

647492

5871654

-37.29004

148.66394

WP

UTM

16

55H

646009

5871075

-37.29549

148.64733

WP

UTM

17

55H

644748

5872851

-37.27968

148.63276

WP

UTM

18

55H

643818

5873607

-37.27301

148.62213

WP

UTM

19

55H

640241

5870820

-37.29867

148.58233

WP

UTM

20

55H

638434

5869212

-37.31343

148.56225

WP

UTM

21

55H

633239

5867756

-37.32731

148.5039

WP

UTM

22

55H

633332

5867344

-37.33101

148.50502

WP

UTM

23

55H

632557

5867243

-37.33203

148.4963

WP

UTM

24

55H

630667

5867586

-37.32921

148.47491

WP

UTM

25

55H

629998

5867634

-37.32887

148.46735

WP

UTM

26

55H

629657

5867295

-37.33197

148.46356

WP

UTM

27

55H

629197

5866801

-37.33649

148.45846

WP

UTM

28

55H

629566

5867848

-37.327

148.46244

WP

UTM

29

55H

650763

5869797

-37.30624

148.70121

WP

UTM

30

55H

637630

5850763

-37.47979

148.55661

WP

UTM

31

55H

635458

5844569

-37.53592

148.5332

 


Appendix 3: Labor protects last significant old growth stands (Fact sheet)

Issued:          17 November 2006

 

A re-elected Labor Government will immediately protect the remaining significant stands of old growth forest in Victoria, including the Goolengook Block, by adding them to the National Parks system. This will add another 33,500 hectares of State Forest currently available to the timber industry to the National Park system.

 

In 2002 the Bracks Labor Government placed a moratorium on logging in the Goolengook Block in East Gippsland pending the outcome of an investigation by the Victorian Environment and Assessment Council (VEAC). The Goolengook Block contains substantial areas of rainforest and old growth forest, long footed potoroo and other threatened species habitat. As the Goolengook Block can be permanently protected under the National Parks Act without any adverse impact on volumes available to the timber industry, a Labor Government will immediately wind up the VEAC investigation and protect the Goolengook Block in the National Parks system.

 

In addition to the Goolengook Block, a Labor Government will immediately protect remaining significant stands of old growth forest currently available for timber harvesting by including them in the National Parks and reserves system.

 

While over half a million hectares of old growth forest is already protected in reserves and National Parks in Victoria, it doesn’t make sense from an environmental or commercial perspective to allow the few remaining large stands of old growth forests to be logged. In addition to their visual majesty, old growth forests are rich sources of biodiversity and habitat to a range of species.

 

The benefits for tourism, and market access opportunities for the timber industry from protecting the remaining significant old growth timber stands, clearly outweigh the on going minimal returns from the harvesting of old growth forest.

 

 


Appendix 4: Proposed new parks and reserves in East Gippsland

Source: Labor protects last significant old growth stands (Fact sheet), 17 November 2006