Spring citizen science camp collects data to save forests

We had a busy time at our citizen science camp last weekend, surveying forests threatened by logging. We deployed five fauna cameras for endangered Spot-tailed Quolls and Long Footed Potoroos, surveyed for Greater Gliders and mapped areas of protected rainforest, all within VicForests scheduled logging coupes.

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This camp was the first camp we've held at our new environment centre space in Goongerah. We just moved the centre in here last week so it was fantastic to welcome everyone who came out from the city into the space. 

On Friday people who arrived early to the camp were lucky enough to visit old growth forest on the Errinundra plateau at Result Creek. This forest was earmarked for logging but protected after GECO surveys found one of Victoria's largest trees. The tree is named "Darejo" after the three GECO volunteers who found it in 2003. Dave (Da) Rena (re) and Jo (jo). The three of them are still active members of GECO and Rena led the walk into the tree this weekend. It's one of the best old growth forest walks in the state and Parks Victoria has done a great job building track into the tree and a boardwalk through the rainforest. 

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On Saturday we really packed a lot in. GECO campaigner Ed Hill presented an overview of the GECO citizen science campaign with a summary of recent successful conservation outcomes and we were lucky to have Tom Crook from the East Gippsland Rainforest Conservation Management Network  deliver a very informative presentation on the evolution of Victoria's rainforests.

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In the afternoon we headed up to the Errinundra plateau and split into two groups to deploy fauna cameras for the Endangered Long Footed Potoroo and Endangered Spot-tailed Quoll. We set up cameras in five locations, all within VicForests planned logging coupes. If Potoroos or Quolls are recorded we'll report the camera data to the state government so they can implement legally required protections.

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We rendezvoused  at a bush camp after the camera deployment and our fabulous chef Shelly Mac met us with two huge pots of delicious hot curry and rice. After re-fueling we were straight back into it and commenced spotlighting surveys targeting Greater Gliders. When more than 10 Greater are Gliders are found in a 1km distance, or more than 2 per hectare of forest the state government are legally required to make a 100 hectare protection zone that can save areas from logging.

One of the spotlighting groups recorded a high enough density to trigger protection! They had to work hard though and didn't return to camp until after 2am! We'll submit the data to the state government soon, hopefully it will stop VicForests logging.

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After a well deserved sleep in on Sunday we headed back into the hills above Goongerah to check out some more threatened forest areas. Much to our surprise we stumbled on a significant stand of cool temperate rainforest adjacent to the planned logging coupe. Rainforest is protected in Victoria but VicForests consistently fail to identify it and its often logged illegally. We mapped the rainforest stand with a GPS unit to determine what protections are required based on its size and noted significant flora species. This data will go into a report to alert the state government to the presence of protected rainforest so they can do their job and ensure VicForests logging is not breaching rainforest protections.

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We're looking forward to the next camp which will be held over 5 days on Melbourne Cup weekend from October 28th to November 1st. It's going to be a big one and as its at the start of the summer logging season, the data we collect will be critically important to hold VicForests accountable over the summer period. For more details and to RSVP click here.

 


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