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Chapter 1 Introduction to the Issues

bolder coupe intro

Introduction to the issues

Chapter 1.pdf- download here

Summary

Mount Baw Baw and its forested escarpments, located 130 kilometres east of the City of Melbourne, has been recognised by several key scientific studies as one of Victoria’s most biologically significant sites and one of its most important water catchments. However, the Victorian Government chose to not to acknowledge the significance and allow its department governing forestry to log it extensively. In 1989, the community expressed concern over the potential impacts of logging and major roadwork taking place throughout the region. In response, the Victorian Government commissioned a study to assess these impacts to assist it in managing these forests (Davies et al 1994). However, the findings detailing the significance of the study area, the potential impacts of logging within in it and the management recommendations, were all suppressed in 1994 (Hansard 1999) and logging and road construction continued unabated. For the remaining forests around Mount Baw Baw currently providing habitat for much of the critically endangered Baw Baw Frog population along with other endangered species, the Victorian Government intends to continue logging in the guise of a ‘scientific experiment’.

In response to scientific and community concern, the regional environment non-government organisation (NGO), The Central Highlands Alliance Inc. (TCHA) conducted its investigation into the logging of the forests of Mount Baw Baw. Over a 5-year period, it has consulted with biodiversity experts, reviewed extensive literature, obtained information formally suppressed, conducted wildlife surveys and carried out mapping and on-site analysis. The outcome is the following report and it reveals evidence of the gross mismanagement and environmental degradation of:

• A Site of Global Zoological Significance;

• Sites of National and State Botanical Significance;

• Sites of National Geological and Geomorphological Significance;

• Sites of National Estate Value;

• Sites of Significant Rainforest;

• Melbourne’s single largest Water Catchment.

In 1995, substantial works began on the Victorian Governments largest infrastructure project for logging, the South Face Road. This road has provided access for the industry to log large areas of forest along the southern escarpments of Mount Baw Baw to supply Victoria’s largest pulp and timber mills in the Latrobe Valley (EPA 2001). In 2001, the Environment Protection Authority recognised the road as an environmental risk to the upper Tyers River Catchment and the road has already collapsed along several sections. To stabilize the road, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has used rock from ‘quarrying’ the regions’ unique rock formations and features, all within a site of National Geological and Geomorphological Significance.

Scientists and the community have asked the Victorian Government that the remaining forest areas around Mount Baw Baw be protected from an industry sector desperate for pulp and timber and that degraded areas be rehabilitated. Yet the government remains indifferent to the crisis. The fate of these forests reside more in ‘political muscling’ than on current scientific research. This is where we do not want to be. The assurance of ‘Sustainable Forest Management’ by the Victorian Government has proven to be misleading as this investigation reveals that current forest policy poses a significant threat for the remaining areas of significance. The culture of mismanagement must be brought to an end and the values of Mount Baw Baw recognized and protected for the greater benefit.

This report aims to inform the reader of the current problems facing forest conservation at Mount Baw Baw, inform forest management of the original biologists findings and recommendations and provide a way forward to ensure that the significance and importance of Mount Baw Baw, its forests and water catchments are preserved.

bolder coupe intro

Introduction to the issues

Baw Baw Report Chapter 1 Introduction

Summary

Mount Baw Baw and its forested escarpments, located 130 kilometres east of the City of Melbourne, has been recognised by several key scientific studies as one of Victoria’s most biologically significant sites and one of its most important water catchments. However, the Victorian Government chose to not to acknowledge the significance and allow its department governing forestry to log it extensively. In 1989, the community expressed concern over the potential impacts of logging and major roadwork taking place throughout the region. In response, the Victorian Government commissioned a study to assess these impacts to assist it in managing these forests (Davies et al 1994). However, the findings detailing the significance of the study area, the potential impacts of logging within in it and the management recommendations, were all suppressed in 1994 (Hansard 1999) and logging and road construction continued unabated. For the remaining forests around Mount Baw Baw currently providing habitat for much of the critically endangered Baw Baw Frog population along with other endangered species, the Victorian Government intends to continue logging in the guise of a ‘scientific experiment’.

In response to scientific and community concern, the regional environment non-government organisation (NGO), The Central Highlands Alliance Inc. (TCHA) conducted its investigation into the logging of the forests of Mount Baw Baw. Over a 5-year period, it has consulted with biodiversity experts, reviewed extensive literature, obtained information formally suppressed, conducted wildlife surveys and carried out mapping and on-site analysis. The outcome is the following report and it reveals evidence of the gross mismanagement and environmental degradation of:

• A Site of Global Zoological Significance;

• Sites of National and State Botanical Significance;

• Sites of National Geological and Geomorphological Significance;

• Sites of National Estate Value;

• Sites of Significant Rainforest;

• Melbourne’s single largest Water Catchment.

In 1995, substantial works began on the Victorian Governments largest infrastructure project for logging, the South Face Road. This road has provided access for the industry to log large areas of forest along the southern escarpments of Mount Baw Baw to supply Victoria’s largest pulp and timber mills in the Latrobe Valley (EPA 2001). In 2001, the Environment Protection Authority recognised the road as an environmental risk to the upper Tyers River Catchment and the road has already collapsed along several sections. To stabilize the road, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has used rock from ‘quarrying’ the regions’ unique rock formations and features, all within a site of National Geological and Geomorphological Significance.

Scientists and the community have asked the Victorian Government that the remaining forest areas around Mount Baw Baw be protected from an industry sector desperate for pulp and timber and that degraded areas be rehabilitated. Yet the government remains indifferent to the crisis. The fate of these forests reside more in ‘political muscling’ than on current scientific research. This is where we do not want to be. The assurance of ‘Sustainable Forest Management’ by the Victorian Government has proven to be misleading as this investigation reveals that current forest policy poses a significant threat for the remaining areas of significance. The culture of mismanagement must be brought to an end and the values of Mount Baw Baw recognized and protected for the greater benefit.

This report aims to inform the reader of the current problems facing forest conservation at Mount Baw Baw, inform forest management of the original biologists findings and recommendations and provide a way forward to ensure that the significance and importance of Mount Baw Baw, its forests and water catchments are preserved.

1.0 Introduction

tompson upper 3

Figure 1.1.1 Upper Thomson River meandering through one of the Montane Fen Communities.

Proposed Coupe 458-504-0007 directly adjoins this rare ecological community

1.1 Executive Summary

Mount Baw Baw and its forested escarpments, located 130 kilometres east of the City of Melbourne,

has been recognised by several key scientific studies as one of Victoria’s most biologically significant

sites and one of its most important water catchments. However, the Victorian Government chose to

not to acknowledge the significance and allow its department governing forestry to log it extensively.

In 1989, the community expressed concern over the potential impacts of logging and major roadwork

taking place throughout the region. In response, the Victorian Government commissioned a study to

assess these impacts to assist it in managing these forests (Davies et al 1994). However, the findings

detailing the significance of the study area, the potential impacts of logging within in it and the

management recommendations, were all suppressed in 1994 (Hansard 1999) and logging and road

construction continued unabated. For the remaining forests around Mount Baw Baw currently

providing habitat for much of the critically endangered Baw Baw Frog population along with other

endangered species, the Victorian Government intends to continue logging in the guise of a ‘scientific

experiment’.

In response to scientific and community concern, the regional environment non-government

organisation (NGO), The Central Highlands Alliance Inc. (TCHA) conducted its investigation into the

logging of the forests of Mount Baw Baw. Over a 5-year period, it has consulted with biodiversity

experts, reviewed extensive literature, obtained information formally suppressed, conducted wildlife

surveys and carried out mapping and on-site analysis. The outcome is the following report and it

reveals evidence of the gross mismanagement and environmental degradation of:

• A Site of Global Zoological Significance;

• Sites of National and State Botanical Significance;

• Sites of National Geological and Geomorphological Significance;

• Sites of National Estate Value;

• Sites of Significant Rainforest;

• Melbourne’s single largest Water Catchment.

In 1995, substantial works began on the Victorian Governments largest infrastructure project for

logging, the South Face Road. This road has provided access for the industry to log large areas of

forest along the southern escarpments of Mount Baw Baw to supply Victoria’s largest pulp and timber

mills in the Latrobe Valley (EPA 2001). In 2001, the Environment Protection Authority recognised the

road as an environmental risk to the upper Tyers River Catchment and the road has already collapsed

along several sections. To stabilize the road, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE)

has used rock from ‘quarrying’ the regions’ unique rock formations and features, all within a site of

National Geological and Geomorphological Significance.

Scientists and the community have asked the Victorian Government that the remaining forest areas

around Mount Baw Baw be protected from an industry sector desperate for pulp and timber and that

degraded areas be rehabilitated. Yet the government remains indifferent to the crisis. The fate of

these forests reside more in ‘political muscling’ than on current scientific research. This is where we

do not want to be. The assurance of ‘Sustainable Forest Management’ by the Victorian Government

has proven to be misleading as this investigation reveals that current forest policy poses a significant

threat for the remaining areas of significance. The culture of mismanagement must be brought to an

end and the values of Mount Baw Baw recognized and protected for the greater benefit.

This report aims to inform the reader of the current problems facing forest conservation at Mount

Baw Baw, inform forest management of the original biologists findings and recommendations and

provide a way forward to ensure that the significance and importance of Mount Baw Baw, its forests

and water catchments are preserved.

tree base chapter 1

Figure 1.1.2 Multi-aged Forest on the South Face of Mount Baw Baw

1.2 Roadmap to the Report

1.2.1 Overview

The purpose of this report is to provide the reader with a comprehensive reference to the

significance of and threats to Mount Baw Baw and its associated escarpments. The report is a

collation of scientific data and contextual layering to provide the reader with a coherent overview. As

a reference document, it has been complied by a number of experts under the co-ordination of The

Central Highlands Alliance Inc. Many of the contributors have requested to remain anonymous given

their close working relationship to the issues as outlined below.

The current section provides the reader with a roadmap to the main body of the report. The

appendix is inclusive of previously unavailable material detailing the significance of Mount Baw Baw.

1.2.2 Natural Values

During the early 1980’s, the Ministry for Conservation carried out several studies and surveys on the

Central Gippsland region of Victoria to identify sites of natural significance. The results of these

studies were published in several reports and all identified Mount Baw Baw and its associated

escarpments as containing sites of outstanding natural value. These are listed below:

• Site of Global Zoological Significance (Section 2.2)

• Site of National Botanical Significance (Section 2.3)

• Site of National Geological and Geomorphological Significance (Section 2.4)

Further to these, later studies by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments revealed that the

area surrounding Mount Baw Baw also contained:

• Sites of National Estate Value (Section 2.5)

• Sites of Landscape Value recognised under the National Trust (Section 2.6)

Chapter 2 explores the significance of each of these attributes and provides reference to the source

documents from which they are detailed. The combination of the studies found that the forests

surrounding Mount Baw Baw provide habitat for significant species including:

• The Global Population of the Critically Endangered Baw Baw Frog

• The Endangered Leadbeater’s Possum

• The Critically Endangered Spotted Tree Frog

• The Endangered Smoky Mouse

• The Vulnerable Sooty Owl

• The Endangered Powerful Owl

• The Endangered Spotted Tail Quoll

And significant ecological vegetation species and communities including:

• Montane Fen Community

• Alpine Fen Community

• Cool Temperate Rainforest Community

• Several endemic species

• Over 400 native vascular flora species

• 45 rare or threatened plant species

• Over 70 mosses and 41 liverworts with one species listed under the Flora and Fauna

Guarantee Act

• Several species yet to be fully described

1.2.3 Research on the Baw Baw Frog

The Baw Baw Frog (Philoria frosti) is endemic to Mount Baw Baw and its associated escarpments and is

listed under the IUCN red list as ‘critically endangered (IUCN 2004). The confinement of the Frog to

the mountainous environment of Mount Baw Baw predisposes it to rarity as they have a restricted

distribution (Hollis 2004). The species has recently experienced a massive population decline and is

extremely sensitive to logging and other forms of environmental stress (Hollis 2004). In 1996, the

majority of the current known population was found on the western and southern escarpments of

Mount Baw Baw. These forests were to be logged under existing licensing arrangements. In response

to the discovery and given the significance of the Baw Baw Frog, the Department of Sustainability and

Environment (DSE) proposed a ‘scientific logging experiment’ to take place in these forests to

determine whether the frog can survive a ‘logging operation’. This experiment will be further

explored in Chapter 6.

Chapter 3 will provide an overview of:

• Key findings of current scientific research on the Baw Baw Frog (Section 3.2)

• The cause of the decline in the species’ population (Section 3.3)

1.2.4 Forest Management around Mount Baw Baw

The lower and middle forested slopes of Mount Baw Baw have been subjected to extensive clearfell

logging operations for over the past 20 years. Mount Baw Baw is located in close proximity to some

of the largest pulp and timber mill facilities operating in Victoria. These Include:

• Australian Paper (Maryvale Pulp Mill)

• Neville Smith Timber (Heyfield Timber Mill)

• Drouin West Sawmill (Drouin and Morwell Mills)

To supply these mills, the Victorian Government subjected the forests around Mount Baw Baw to an

unsustainable management regime. In order to maintain existing license commitments administered

under the Forests Act 1958, the region was ‘overlogged’ to where in 2002, it was recommended to

the Victorian Government that the sawlog yield be reduced by 50 percent. This chapter explores

these pressures and its resulting impact on forest biodiversity. This is detailed in a mapping analysis

showing past and proposed logging coupes onto sites significance as detailed in Chapter 2. An

overview on current and proposed logging operations as outlined by the DSE is then provided. All of

this is further explored within the following sections:

• The Forest Industry and Mount Baw Baw (Section 4.2)

• The impact of logging on Mount Baw Baw and its escarpments (Section 4.3)

• Current forest management in Sites of Significance (Section 4.4)

• Proposed Logging within Sites of Significance (Section 4.5)

It is recommended that proposed logging not proceed in the sites of significance surrounding Mount

Baw Baw. It is also recommended that the Australian Paper for the Maryvale Pulp Mill request for

additional wood pulp supply not come from VicForests as the RFA, upon which the extensions refers

to, falls short of ensuring adequate protection for significant ecological communities. This will be

explored further in the following chapters.

thompson with clearing chapter 1

Figure 1.2.4.1 Aerial view of logging on the escarpments of Mount Baw Baw with the Thomson

Reservoir in the background

1.2.5 Scientific Reporting and Suppression of Recommendations

In late 1993, the then Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) completed a

study, ‘ Ecological Survey Report No.46 - Flora and Fauna of the Eastern and Western Tyers Forest Blocks

and Adjacent South-Eastern Slopes of Baw Baw National Park, Central Gippsland, Victoria’ (Davies et al

1993). The report was the first DCNR ecological survey for the Central Highlands’ Gippsland area

and was carried out by the Flora and Fauna Survey Team set up by the State-wide Planning Policy

Advisory Group – an initiative of the then Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands. The report

was commissioned as the result of public concern over the potential impacts of major road networks

and logging on environmental values in the forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria. The report

initially comprised of the following chapters:

1. General aspects of the Upper Tyers River Catchment

2. Vegetation

3. Mammals

4. Birds

5. Amphibians and Reptiles

6. Fish

7. Butterflies

8. Conservation of Flora and Fauna

9. Significant Communities and Habitats

10. Effects of Land Use Activities on Flora and Fauna

11. Biologically Significant Sites and Wildlife Corridors

Upon the publishing of the report in 1994, Chapters 8, 9 and 10 were removed. Chapter 11 became

Chapter 8, however, the biologists’ recommendations for the management of Biologically Significant

Sites and wildlife corridors were removed. Upon being published, the report was withdrawn by the

DCNR, and what remained of chapter 8 (originally chapter 11) and the map locating the sites, were

removed. The report was reissued with the pages of chapter 8 and the map simply ‘missing’. The

removal of this information prevented forest management from being properly informed about the

significance of the region (Hansard 1999). Since then, the Upper Tyers River Catchment has been

subject to extensive clearfell logging. The Central Highlands Alliance Inc. located the deleted chapters

and presents its findings and recommendations in Chapter 5. Testimony of why the chapters were

deleted is also included. These are covered in the following sections:

• Purpose for reporting on the Upper Tyers River Catchment (Section 5.2)

• Details of the ‘Deleted’ Chapters (Section 5.3)

• Biologically Significant Sites and Wildlife Corridors (Section 5.4)

• Significance of Sites Identified (Section 5.5)

• Why were the Chapters and the Map detailing the Sites deleted? (Section 5.6)

• What are the Impacts? (Section 5.7)

• Sites of significance as outlined in the Central Highlands Forest Management Plan (Section

5.8)

• Implications for future management (Section 5.9)

The Chair of the Senate hearing on the Regional Forest Agreement Bill described the act of

suppressing this information as a fairly serious charge (Hansard 1999). It revealed that forest

management acted in the interest of meeting ‘unsustainable’ timber and pulp license commitments at

the expense of forest biodiversity and the public good.

1.2.6 Logging the Baw Baw Frog Habitat

In 1996, significant populations of the critically endangered Baw Baw Frog were discovered in the

State Forests on the southern escarpments of Mount Baw Baw (Hollis 2004). In response, the Central

Highlands Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) called for an interim ‘precautionary approach’ to be

taken in forest above the 1000m contour where coupes would not be logged upon where Baw Baw

Frogs were known to occur and additional buffering would be implemented around known sites. The

Central Highlands RFA calls for further study on the species, including surveying the response of the

species to ‘disturbance in Montane Wet Forest’ (Commonwealth of Australia 1998). The Baw Baw

Frog Action Statement and the Baw Baw Frog Draft Recovery Plan later referred the ‘response to

disturbance’ as ‘experimental timber harvesting’, upon where the habitat of Baw Baw Frog occurring

around Mount Baw Baw would be logged employing various methods of silviculture, including

clearfelling. Following this, monitoring is to take place to establish whether the critically endangered

species can survive logging within their habitat. Chapter 6 explores the issues surrounding the

experiment under the following sections:

• Logging Experiment Overview (Section 6.2)

• Scientific Critique (Section 6.3)

• The Baw Baw Frog Recovery Plan and the EPBC Act 1999 (Section 6.4)

• The Baw Baw Frog Action Statement (Section 6.5)

• Logging within the Baw Baw Frog Habitat after the RFA (Section 6.6)

The experiment commenced in December 2004 despite it not yet being approved by the Federal

Minister for Environment. However, the experiment was placed under an informal moratorium within

days of commencing as a result of opposition from scientists and environmental Non-Government

Organisations (NGO’s). Associate Professor Jean-Marc Hero described the ‘experiment’ to the

Victorian Government as ‘ludicrous at best and unethical at worst’, as the species has been found to

be extremely sensitive to environmental change.

1.2.7 Logging and Leadbeater’s Possum

The Leadbeater’s Possum is a small arboreal marsupial that is one of the significant species inhabiting

the forests surrounding Mount Baw Baw. It was thought to be extinct for the first half of the 20th

Century until it was rediscovered in 1961 (Lindenmayer and Possingham 1996). Upon its rediscovery

near Lake Mountain in 1961, the known global population range of the Leadbeater’s Possum is

currently restricted to the Central Highlands of Victoria. These include populations throughout the

Mountain Ash, Shining Gum, Alpine Ash Forests and Snow Gum Woodlands surrounding Mount Baw

Baw (Lindenmayer and Possingham 1996, DSE 2003, DSE BioMap 2006). The species is listed as

‘Endangered’ under the IUCN red list and its population trend is in decline (last count as of 2006

stands at approx. 2,500 individuals) (IUCN Red List). It has been widely documented that clearfell

logging poses a serious threat to the survival of the species through the loss of hollow bearing trees.

As most logged sites around Mount Baw Baw are clearfelled, the forest structure has been

undergoing dramatic change rendering the landscape unsuitable for the species to inhabit. These

issues are explored in the following sections:

• Habitat requirements for the Leadbeater’s Possum (Section 7.2)

• Impacts of Logging on the Leadbeater’s Possum at Mount Baw Baw (Section 7.3)

• Impacts of Logging on Dead Stags (Section 7.4)

• Surveys at Tyers River West Branch (Section 7.5)

• Protection requirements for the Leadbeater’s Possum (Section 7.6)

A significant number of Leadbeater’s Possum colonies have been found around Mount Baw Baw that

fall outside the Zone 1A Special Protection Zones set aside under the Central Highlands Forest

Management Plan. These unprotected colonies are under extreme risk of being destroyed by logging

as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 has exempted all

logging carried out under a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). A number of these colonies fall within

the boundaries of the coupes listed as part of the Baw Baw Frog Logging experiment.

1.2.8 The South Face Road

In 1995, the then Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) began substantial

works of its largest and most complex infrastructure project, the South Face Road (EPA 2001). The

majority of the road straddles the mid southern escarpments of Mount Baw Baw within the Upper

Tyers River Catchment and opened previously inaccessible forests for logging. The purpose of the

South Face Road was to provide a permanent transport route to move timber from coupes west of

Mount Baw Baw to mills located in the east (EPA 2001). These include the major Gippsland facility,

the Maryvale Pulp Mill and the Neville Smith Timber Mill at Heyfield. The construction of the road has

had a wide spread negative impact on the sites of significance along the escarpments of Mount Baw

Baw. These include increased erosion and turbidity for the many rivers in the region, degradation of

Rainforest Sites of Significance (detailed in Chapter 9), degradation of Sites of Biological Significance

(detailed in Chapter 5) and the destruction of Sites of National Geological and Geomorphological

Significance through rock blasting. Chapter 8 provides an overview of:

• The EPA Tyers River Catchment Audit Findings (Section 8.2)

• Onsite observations made by The Central Highlands Alliance Inc (Section 8.3)

• Quarrying of Granite Tors (Section 8.4)

• Assessment of Quarrying made by Neville Rosengren (Section 8.5)

The construction of the South Face Road poses a severe environmental risk to the region. As the

granodiorite derived soils in the region are highly susceptible to erosion, several sections of the road

have ‘collapsed’, exposing the Upper Tyers and Tanjil River Catchments to continued erosion and

increased sedimentation. The road has also permanently fragmented the forest, disrupting

connectivity for ‘non-flying’ species, such as the Leadbeater’s Possum, to forage (Lindenmayer and

Franklin 2002).

1.2.9 Cool Temperate Rainforest and the impacts of Logging

The issue of rainforest conservation has been the centre of intense debate for several decades. The

escarpments of Mount Baw Baw contain several Rainforest Sites of Significance and these have been

impacted by forestry operations, especially in the construction of the South Face Road. Chapter 9

provides an overview of the issues and the impacts of forest management on rainforest sites

throughout the Mount Baw Baw area in the following:

• By providing recognised definitions of Rainforest (Section 9.2)

• Listing Rainforest Sites of Significance around Mount Baw Baw (Section 9.3)

• Describing inconsistencies between scientific surveys and the Central Highlands Forest

Management Plan listing Rainforest Sites of Significance (Section 9.4)

• Rainforest Sites of Significance and the Impacts of road construction and Logging (Section

9.5)

• The impacts of Logging Cool Temperate Mixed Rainforest (Section 9.6)

The construction of the South Face Road has resulted in the degradation of a Rainforest Site of State

Significance through the permanent removal of a section of the stand. The infection of the fatal

pathogen ‘Myrtle Wilt’ of the forest following the intrusion significantly furthered degradation. In

addition, the extensive clearfelling of Cool Temperate Mixed Rainforest has also changed the floristics

of the region. These rainforest communities provide important habitat and refuge for the Baw Baw

Frog.

1.2.10 Logging and the Thomson Water Catchment

The Thomson Reservoir is situated along the eastern escarpments of Mount Baw Baw and carries

approximately 60 percent of Melbourne’s water storage capacity (Howe et al 2005). It is surrounded

by 48,700 hectares of forested catchment that includes the northern and eastern slopes of Mount

Baw Baw, the southern slopes of Mount Matlock on the Great Dividing Range and the western slopes

of the Aberfeldy Range. The Thomson is the largest of four major water supply catchments for

Melbourne, with the others being Maroondah, Upper Yarra and O’Shannassy. All are located within

the Central Highlands of Victoria (Howe et al 2005). The Thomson is the only large catchment upon

which logging is permitted. The forest industry considers the Mountain Ash, Alpine Ash and Shining

Gum forests within the catchment as highly valuable for timber and pulp and targets them for logging.

These forests cover 33.5 percent of the Thomson Catchment (Alaouze 2004) and occur within the

high rainfall areas, mostly along the escarpments of Mount Baw Baw. When regenerating after logging,

these species have been observed to double their use of water through having a higher Leaf Area

Index (LAI) (Peel et al 2000, Vertessy et al 1998). The Strategy Directions Report stated that if

logging were to be phased out of the Thomson Catchment by 2020, it is estimated that it will provide

an additional volume of water in the order of 20,000ML (Victorian Government 2002). This is almost

the equivalent holding capacity of the Maroondah Reservoir. Chapter 10 provides an overview of the

issues concerning logging in the Thomson Catchment and implications for future management. These

are covered in the following sections:

• Annual Rainfall within the Thomson Catchment (Section 10.2)

• Forests and Water Use (Section 10.3)

• Predicting Impacts on Water Yield within the Thomson Catchment (Section 10.4)

• Logging within the Thomson Catchment (Section 10.5)

• Global Warming and the Thomson (Section 10.6)

• Implications for Future Management (Section 10.7)

Chapter 10 reveals significant problems with past and continued logging within the Thomson

Catchment. It reveals that logging Ash Forests results in the greatest water yield loss for any forest

type in the catchment. Almost 69 percent of the Ash forest area within the Thomson Catchment has

been or will be logged. This exceeds the minimum of 20 percent for changes in the water yield to be

detected.

1.2.11 Unlawful Logging within the Thomson Catchment

In the winter of 2006, coupe 353-501-0001 was logged. Part of this coupe falls within Thomson

Water Catchment. The catchment is closed to logging operations between May 1st and November

30th as stipulated in Appendix R of the Central Highlands Forest Management Plan. In addition, the

location of the coupe was not revealed in the Timber Release Plan issued by VicForests. The

Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 requires that the details of the location of logging to be

included in the Timber Release Plans. This did not occur. As a result, the community was not

adequately informed about VicForests’ and DSE’s intent to log an area of what scientists and the

community regard as a significant site for water catchment and biodiversity. Therefore, in reference

to the above, the logging of coupe 353-501-0001 was ‘unlawful’. This is covered in the

following sections:

• Details of the Logging Operation (Section 11.2)

• Non-compliance with Forest Management Plans and Legislation (Section 11.3)

1.2.12 The Reserve Proposal

The outcome of this investigation reveals that the current reserve system around Mount Baw Baw is

inadequate and that current forest management practices are degrading sites of significance. Chapter

11 details the recommended expansion of the current Baw Baw National Park to be inclusive of:

• The entire site of Global Zoological Significance,

• Sites of National and State Botanical Significance,

• Site of National Geological and Geomorphological Significance

• The global distribution of the Baw Baw Frog,

• Rainforest Sites of Significance

• Sites of National Estate Value

• Areas of high rainfall within the Thomson Catchment

As large areas of forest surrounding Mount Baw Baw have been degraded through extensive logging

operations, the reserve agenda proposes a ‘restorative management zone’ upon where proactive

conservation measures are implemented to rehabilitate these areas. The agenda is supportive of

Associate Professor Jean marc Hero’s recommendation for the recovery action of the Baw Baw Frog,

which include:

• Complete protection of all known and predicted habitat for the Baw Baw Frog

• Proactive actions to mitigate the known threats

• Monitoring to determine if mitigating actions are effective

• Research to determine new or unknown threats to the species

• Proactive actions to mitigate new threats

(Hero 2004 – Pers Comm)

This proposal provides a continuous reserve system that joins the Baw Baw National Park with the

Yarra Ranges National Park and the Moondarra State Park. It will incorporate the diverse Ecological

Vegetation Communities found within the region that fall outside the current reserve system.

1.3 Recommended Outcomes

As Mount Baw Baw and its associated escarpments have been recognised as a site of outstanding

natural significance, appropriate conservation, protection and management need to be immediately

implemented. The Victorian Government must ensure the community that the

abuse and degradation of significant natural sites do not re-occur. Informed by the

following report, The Central Highlands Alliance Inc., along with other stakeholders, request the

following:

• That all logging immediately cease within sites of zoological, botanical,

geological and geomorphological significance on Baw Baw and the Victorian

Government subject these sites to a moratorium

• The cancellation of the Baw Baw Frog ‘Timber Harvesting Experiment’

• The immediate protection of forest where the Baw Baw Frog is located

• Allow for informed and broad stakeholder approval of the Baw Baw Frog

Recovery Plan under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity

Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999

• To allow for informed and broad stakeholder review of the Baw Baw Frog

Action Statement under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988

• A formal investigation into the suppression of biologists recommendations in

the report titled ‘Flora and Fauna of the Eastern and Western Tyers Forest

Blocks and Adjacent South-Eastern Slopes of Baw Baw National Park, Central

Gippsland, Victoria’

• An investigation to the impacts of logging in the Thomson Catchment with all

logging suspended to minimise any further potential degradation

• To cease any further planning and construction of the South Face Road

• An independent and transparent investigation into the planning and

construction of the South Face Road and the impacts that it has had on

forest biodiversity and catchment integrity

• An independent assessment into the quarrying of the granite tors within sites

of geological and geomorphological significance

• Areas degraded by past logging operations restored as part of a long term

restoration program

• That roads built for the purposes of logging throughout high conservation

forest and/or on eroding soils be closed and rehabilitated

• The reserve proposal be implemented as detailed in Chapter 11

Baw Baw Report Chapter 1 Introduction