Strathbogie Forest out of the woods

By Country News

Strathbogie locals have welcomed an apparent Victorian Government call to halt logging in the Strathbogie Forest as ‘‘fantastic news’’.

The forest was noticeably absent from the government’s new Timber Release Plan which outlined where native timber can be logged by state-owned VicForests.

A total of 370ha of logging coupes located in Strathbogie Forest were not listed in the 73-page document.

Save Our Strathbogie Forest chair Bertram Lobert said the decision acknowledged that the forest was a ‘‘significant natural, community and cultural asset’’.

In 2017 research conducted by the Victorian Government found that Strathbogie Forest was habitat for the greater glider possum — a recently-listed threatened species.

‘‘We hope the removal of these coupes signals a change in the Victorian Government’s thinking and planning. We now encourage the government to take the next step and deliver permanent protection for the forest,’’ Mr Lobert said.

An end to logging in the forest was also supported by Strathbogie Shire Council late last year.

The council called for more support for nature-based tourism and recreation activities and a transition to plantation-based timber harvesting.

Euroa Environment Group chair Shirley Saywell said the news was fantastic.

‘‘With 74 per cent of the Strathbogie Ranges’ original forests completely gone, we need to protect and cherish what we have left,’’ she said.

‘‘With climate change on our doorstep, the 24000ha Strathbogie State Forest will become increasingly important to the health and wellbeing of regional towns and communities and catchment health.’’

VicForests has signalled a change to its logging practices, completing the first consultation phase for a revision of its harvesting methods in a bid to enhance the protection of threatened species.

The organisation is proposing to increase the use of a variable retention harvesting method and to decrease the use of clear-fall harvesting and regeneration burning methods to enhance biodiversity outcomes.

VicForests’ high conservation value management system for threatened species would centre on retaining hollow-bearing and large old trees, and include trees that are assessed to have the potential for develop into future hollow-bearing trees.

These trees essentially provide current and future habitat for a wide range of species, including threatened species such as the Leadbeater’s possum and the greater glider.