Old growth forest on Granite Mountain in far East Gippsland is under imminent threat. VicForests has listed coupes 889-506-0032 and 889-506-0017 as "Harvest Pending", a sign that logging coupe commence any day.
We conducted a half day survey of the old growth forest in the coupe and documented many very large old growth trees. We've submitted this report to the environment department and Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio calling on them to protect this area.
Despite earlier commitments by the state Labor government to strengthen protections for large old trees in East Gippsland, giant trees on Granite Mountain remain threatened by imminent logging, that could commence any day.
Contact the Environment Minister Ph: 03 9637 9504
Ask the Minster's office to:
1. Protect East Gippsland's remaining old growth forests in permanent reserves
2. Direct VicForests not to log coupes 889-506-0023 and 889-506-0017 at Granite Mountain in East Gippsland
3. Complete the long overdue review of protections for large old trees
Controversy over old growth logging in East Gippsland erupted last November when GECO established a blockade to prevent logging of an untouched area in the iconic Kuark forest.
Logging did not go ahead after lawyers acting for Fauna and Flora Research Collective (FFRC) secured a Supreme Court injunction. The FFRC are now suing the state environment department for failing to protect 60% of all wet and damp old growth forest in East Gippsland, as the law requires.
Minister D’Ambrosio published a tweet declaring that trees greater than 2.5m DBHOB would be protected in the Kuark forest.
There has been no further announcement from the Minsiter’s office or DELWP regarding protection measures for large old trees in East Gippsland other than one coupe in the Kuark forest. Nor has there been any information relating to how large old trees would be protected with appropriate buffer zones.
In response to public concerns about the destruction of large old trees by VicForests logging operations DELWP commenced a review of protection measures for large old trees in October 2015. The purpose of the review was to investigate options for lowering the minimum protection size threshold through legislative changes in the long term and establish interim protections for large old trees in the short term.
The review has so far produced no recommendations that have been made public, DELWP has been unable to provide stakeholders with any information regarding the progress of the review and have deleted the page on their website that provided information about the review.
Several giant trees measuring over 6m and up to 10m in circumference could be logged in the coming weeks on Granite Mountain, in the absence of any protections for large old trees in East Gippsland.
Stay tuned for updates, we'll be monitoring this area over the new year.
Environment Department's missing old growth data
The Granite Mountain coupes are situated in the Tennyson forest block, near Cann River. This forested region contains some of the best examples of old growth forest remaining in Victoria. However, after a new Modelled Old Growth data set was produced by DELWP in 2009, the extent of mapped old growth forest appears to have gone missing.
In 2003, extensive forest areas within this region were mapped as Modelled Old Growth (MOG 2003). These same areas are no longer mapped as old growth under the 2009 data set (MOG 2009), but many of these same areas have not been subject to logging and are still old growth.
The forest within coupes 889-506-0017, 889-506-0023 was considered old growth by DELWP in 2003. Despite no logging occurring in these areas of forest from 2003 up until the present date, these areas are no longer considered old growth on the MOG 2009 data set.
The extent of the missing data is quite large, see the missing MOG block in the map below.
This apparent data error raises serious concerns over the government's ability to identify where old growth forests are located in the region and fulfill their obligations to ensure they are protected.