A Proposal to Enlarge East Gippsland's National Parks
- the Short Version
In East Gippsland it is possible to maintain a diverse ecosystem
that stretches from the ocean to the alpine mountain tops.
This is increasingly important as the world is becoming rapidly
deforested, the hole in the ozone layer is increasing, and many
species are threatened with extinction. To protect a continuous
wildlife corridor from ocean to alpine would allow the evolutionary
process to cope with the climatic changes, and for species to migrate up
away from the rising oceans and into cooler climates.
As the human population exponentially increases on the planet, and our
"standard of living" - the amount of resources we consume - is also
increasing per capita, the amount of irreparable damage we are causing
is also exponentially growing. The continued deforestation of the planet
is causing droughts, salination of soils, increased carbon-dioxide emissions
from burn-offs, and reduced oxygen input to the atmosphere.
The forests of East Gippsland are helping solve this world climatic problem
by consuming carbon dioxide and acting as a carbon store, but felling and
burning releases carbon dioxide. Plants help maintain water and humidity
levels and are essential for the maintenance of the oxygen / carbon dioxide
levels in the atmosphere. Cleared forests have led to release of large amounts
of greenhouse gases, raising of the water table and increased climatic
temperature. This is easily demonstrated by walking from a cleared coupe
into an old-growth forest, as there is a noticable drop in temperature.
Forests in East Gippsland are currently being harvested at the rate of
174 000 cu.m of sawlogs (C grade or better) per year, with 700 000 cu.m
of residual logs being woodchipped. The process of harvesting is clear-felling
, which leaves the tops of trees, stumps, hollow trees, and anything other
than straight logs left on the ground to be burnt in the Autumn regeneration
burns. That means 80% of logs are woodchipped, and the true residue is unused.
The areas currently protected by Government are small and scattered, often
consisting of gullies too steep to be logged, or areas that are otherwise
inaccessible for logging. Many of the protected areas are too small to support
habitat for the native species that dwell there, and extinction of birds and
animals is almost guaranteed.
The current National Parks exclude huge areas of undisturbed old-growth forest
such as around Mt. Sardine, which is home to bats, frogs, Long-footed
Potoroos, Sooty Owls, Spot-tail Quolls, Yellow Belly and Sugar Gliders -
almost a list of all East Gippsland's endangered species. "Special Protection
Zones" exist, but are only temporary. For example the protection currently
offered by the DCNR of the Ellery Catchment is limited to the year 2000, when
the management strategy will review its policy on protecting potoroo habitat.
This based on "recognition of the fact that potoroos utilise regrowth forest
and that carefully planned timber harvesting may be compatible with their
If you want to see what the world looked like in Gondwanic times - when the
continents were joined and dinosaurs roamed the earth - then check out Stagg
Creek, just east of Sellers Rd. This rainforest is adjacent to the National
Park and is an area of undisturbed old-growth, Powerful Owl habitat, giant
trees full of gliders, lush tree-fern valleys, and Sassafras lined creeks.
A blockade of this area was held for almost a year, but was busted in December.
Two coupes have already been clearfelled and burnt. There are more coupes
planned for next season.
To save the threatened species, the forests, the atmosphere and the planet,
we need to enlarge East Gippsland National Parks, and include the remaining
patches of old-growth in linked wildlife corridors.
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