Tuesday, April 19, 2011

yarra ranges submits to vicforest timber release plan

Yarra Ranges Council recently met with representatives of VicForests to talk about their current Timber Release Plan. As a result of talks Yarra Ranges prepared a submission to VicForests.

Council has a number of general concerns but some of our more specific concerns include:
Logging in Water Catchments - Council does not support any logging in closed or open water catchments, back in November 2007, I moved a motion to oppose logging in water catchments which was supported unanimously. There are 86 coupes proposed for water catchments in the current timber release plan.
Impact of Logging on Tourism, Local Economy and Environment - In June 2010 Cr McRae moved a motion calling for the immediate halt of logging on the Bicentennial Trail and Mt St Leonards due to significant adverse impacts on the local economy, tourism features and the environment. Council continues to be concerned about the siting of coupes in sensitive tourism areas and coupes that impact on the significant landscapes of the shire, our vistas are very important and need to be protected. It is council's view that at least 11 proposed coupes will impact on prominent tourism areas.
Quality of Ecological Assessments - council continues to be concerned about the level of ecological assessment of logging coupes. Council believes, given the ecological significance and sensitivity of many flora and fauna in Yarra Ranges, that comprehensive ecological assessments are required for each coupe prior to approval by a someone who has suitable and specific ecological qualifications.
Post Logging Ecological Assessments - council believes that there is little or no data on the cumulative ecological effect of logging on our forests and that as a matter of course assessments should be conducted 6 months after a regeneration burn to assess the cumulative effect on biodiversity and regeneration success.
Retention of Habitat Trees - council believes the logging industry should apply the same standard to the identification of habitat trees that applies in the state government's Native Vegetation Management Framework. That way habitat trees would be identified using the sound science that underpins the NVMF rather than use a subjective in the field assessment of what constitutes a habitat tree.
Protection of Threatened Species Habitat - The extent of the 2009 bushfires had significant impact on the habitat of threatened species, particularly Leadbeater's Possum. Council wants assurances that no new coupes will be granted that have the potential to destroy Special Protection Zone forest or any areas of Leadbeaters Possums' Permanent Reserve System or other areas previously set aside to conserve and secure forest biodiversity. There are currently 21 proposed coupes adjacent to SPZ or LPPRS forest.
Regeneration of Logged Coupes - Council is concerned about the rate of regeneration of logged coupes. It is abundantly clear from recent reports that regeneration rates fall well below what is required and there is a growing backlog of logged coupes requiring regeneration. Council does not support the approval of any new coupes in the region until VicForests can clearly demonstrate their capacity, budget and commitment to address the backlog of regeneration.

There are a number of other issues too, including movement of logging trucks at night and on Sundays (through tourist towns), landscape fragmentation and habitat connectivity, value of timber products (which in the main are low grade woodchips, not high grade timber veneers) and monitoring and reporting of forest management. It's a complex issue which continues to impact on the Shire in many ways.

Our forests are more important than ever, in combating climate change as carbon sinks, protecting water supply for greater Melbourne as well as biodiversity, it's important to protect and conserve what's left.

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