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Cobboboonee Forest

Western Victoria

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Background by Gillian Blair

Supporting local aborigines in protecting the forest

Logging impacts on fishing

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The Cobboboonee: Huge public support for saving this forest from any more logging:

At a public meeting with DSE in April 2004, on the subject of the Cobboboonee Forest, the hall was packed out with local people, field naturalists and professionals, all with an intimate understanding of the forest and its species.

Discussion of the history of the forest clearly called for a different management regime, which will not include logging, but will preserve the unique birds, animals and plants of the forest.

A large portion of this report and recommendations is based on the input from these local people, some of whom have forest knowledge dating back over a lifetime.

The Cobboboonee: A History of Poor Management and Over-Clearing:

A few years ago the logging company, Pontings, pulled out of the Cobboboonee Forest, saying that after fifty years of logging, there were no more decent sawlogs left. The same week, DNRE gave the logging licence to a company in Hamilton, which makes pallets. During the last election the Labor Party promised to stop the logging if it won. However, logging went for some time after the new government came into office.

Logging has now stopped, but some people now want to log the forest for firewood!

Biodiversity Values of the Portland Forest and nearby woodlands, swamps and heathlands:

The area is the last westernmost large low-lying area left, and is the last of our natural heritage. It contains swamps and heath-lands, as well as forest.

The Cobboboonee is also the western edge of the range of many eastern mammal species. There is very little natural vegetation left in the adjacent areas of South Australia.

Impact of logging on Tree Species and Coverage:

Due to the logging and forestry methods, mixed-aged species have been replaced with even-aged blocks of trees. There were many large trees thirty years ago, but now the majority of trees are small. There has been a massive loss of the older, hollow-bearing trees. As a result, the numbers of hollow-dependent individuals within bird and animal species has declined.

There were 217 vegetation varieties 200 years ago; today there are now 114 endangered species, 70 species classified as vulnerable, and 23 are extinct. Additionally, 2,318 plant varieties have been recorded in the Portland area, and 235 have been classified as rare or threatened; five of these species do not occur anywhere else.

There has been a general loss in forest size over the last thirty years, and maps of the original vegetation reveal that there has been a 90% reduction in size over the last 100 years. Within the Portland Forest Management area, forests are 6% of land, plantations 2% (Hancocks), parks and reserves are 5%, and privately owned land comprises 87%.

The Cobboboonee Forest has become fragmented. There has also been a loss of canopy, due to the impact of logging.

To make matters worse, in recent years selective logging has been replaced with wholesale clearing.

Consequent Loss of Birds and Animals:

Many birds, plants and animals depend on the forest and surrounding areas. One species is the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, which is rare to endangered. Approximately 800 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos live in the area, ranging from Nelson to Dartmoor to Edenhope. These birds like bulloak trees. Since the 1960’s the quail, and other ground-dwelling birds have also disappeared, probably due to the constant burning after logging. The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are completely dependent on hollow trees for nesting purposes.

About thirty hollow-dwelling species live in the forest, and some of these are endangered species, such as several species of owls.

There are 25 Powerful Owl Management Areas in the forest, which is a very small number of areas, given the Endangered status of the bird.

In order to ensure the survival of such species, it is important to protect the remaining hollow-bearing trees which are in the area, and to prevent any further logging.

Some species such as the Eastern Quoll have already become extinct; other species, such as the Spotted Quoll and Tuans are near extinction. The Barking Owl and Masked Owl are endangered. The Long-nosed Potoroo and Brown Bandicoot, which live where there are heath-land and grasstrees, are also endangered. Native grasslands and heath-lands are now rare, and several local species of native grasses have gone extinct.

Frogs and Ground-Dwelling Species:

There are several species of frogs endemic to the area, which are threatened by further logging, burning, and clearing. These processes dry out the forest and change the species balance of undergrowth, which has had an impact on ground-dwelling animals.

Invasion of Exotic Pest Species:

New tracks into the forest and changed undergrowth species have allowed in feral animals. Fox control is a key issue in preserving native animals from extinction.

The clearing of trees has allowed weeds, garden “escapees”, and pines to become established, thus threatening the varied flora of the forest. Other feral plants include Sweet Pittosporum, and the South African Weed Orchid, which has become established in the Mt. Clay and Portland areas.

Use of Forest Areas for Recreation:

The use of parts of the forest set aside for recreation need not be damaging, if trail bike riders and horse riders keep to designated paths. It could be argued that when community groups feel ownership for parts of the environment, they are more likely to take an active interest in its preservation.

Role of Fuel-Reduction Burns in Species Extinction:

The Department of Sustainability and Environment is collecting information about the plants and animals at risk from inappropriate fire regimes; DSE does not yet have all the necessary information on this issue. Monitoring has probably not been done as much as necessary.

There is the issue that some trees do not produce seed for up to ten years after a fuel reduction burn has taken place, and this causes loss of food for Black Cockatoos.

Another factor is that some orchids are ready for flowering in the spring, and therefore burning off should not be done at this time.

Water Issues:

The Cobboboonee Forest area benefits the water catchment system. All forests cause more rain to fall by releasing bacteria and particles within transpired water droplets which rise into the upper atmosphere; the tree roots also store, filter and release water into streams and underground reserves.

Keeping forests intact is also important in order to prevent salt from rising into the surface soil, as is happening all over Australia. Removal of forests has resulted in salting and creation of deserts throughout the history of mankind. The trees also keep the ground moist, with the right amount of shade for native flora and fauna.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

Protection of Species:

The existing National Park system will not be sufficient for the protection of the region’s indigenous fauna. The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act of 1988 aims to guarantee that all plant and animal communities can survive, flourish, and retain their potential for evolutionary development.

Today’s over-logged and diminished forest areas are not large enough to provide food and homes for expanding communities of birds and animals. For example, a pair of owls can require hundreds of hectares over which to hunt for food, and more area is required for owlets once grown, and their prey. Without large enough areas, the food source is too little to allow birds and animals and their prey species to reproduce and feed themselves.

The Cobboboonee Forest should therefore be declared a National Park, and, along with the Glenelg National Park, form a reservoir and buffer zone for the continued existence of species.

Any further logging in the forest should not be allowed, as logging will complete the transformation of the forest into an even-aged plantation devoid of hollows and lacking in its present bio-diversity.

Firewood Sources:

There has been the proposal that areas of the forest be logged for firewood. As has been stated above, it is time to stop all logging for environmental and sustainability reasons. Therefore, firewood plantations may be the answer to the need for fuel.

Chemical Pollution Issues:

Any firewood plantations should not be mono-cultures or plantings of only a few species. Mono-cultures are more prone to disease, and therefore are usually sprayed with toxic chemicals. The establishment of monoculture plantations in the area could contaminate ground-water. As underground aquifers often interconnect and may extend under large areas, any such contamination could eventually have an impact on human and animal health; bore water is used for water supplies in some regions, and will be increasingly used as water gets scarce and populations rise.

If logging for firewood is desired, then mixed plantations or reafforested areas should be established on already cleared land, previously used for agriculture, (not on forest cleared for plantation purposes).

The build-up of insectivorous birds and insectivore species in an unsprayed area of farmland, garden or forest, tends to keep pests under control.

In a plantation this would minimise damage from pests and diseases and eliminate the need for the spraying of toxic chemicals, which have a serious impact on human and animal health, and on eco-systems and water supplies.

Gillian Blair,

Friends of the Earth Forest Network

 

Local Aborigines and FoE working to secure a just and sustainable future.

Contact for Aunty Betty King local indigenous elder (03) 5521 7218

Portland Observer

February 1999

Elders unhappy

TWO Aboriginal elders fear an emerging regional forests agreement will "ease" the way for further woodchipping in south west forests.

Betty King and Sandra Onus have spoken out, after their walk out from a Heywood meeting on March 10 to examine the process for creating a west Victoria RFA by the end of the year.

Ms King said of officialdom: “You don't care about the land. You only care about the money. "What are you going to do when the money crashes? Will you be able to tell your children where to go in the bush, and find something to eat?

"Destruction of our environment will ultimately bring about the destruction of our local economy.

"This RFA process will only add to that destruction.”

According to the pair, her views and their walk~out left visiting RFA representatives to hang their heads in shame. "Members of the audience were horrified to hear that the RFA process would ease the way for further woodchipping in the forests of the south west, and the RFA process was set up to look after the economic interest of the woodchipping companies," she said.

"At least 90 per cent of the 90 people attending the Heywood meeting spoke about the need to protect the natural environment for future generations.

"Almost all were very upset about the continuing destruction of forest areas, such as the Cobboboonee forest, for export woodchips".

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Anthony Amis said the RFA process was virtually "green window dressing" for the government and woodchipping industry.

"From what was said at the Heywood meeting, it would appear the government is attempting to best serve the interests of woodchipping companies at the expense of the local community of the southwest, and the unique forest environments of the area.

"In effect, the RFA process will allow a few Cobboboonee shareholders of Midway woodchip mill to benefit from logging of forests while the commmunity as; a whole, loses out.

"Why do the State and Federal Governments continue to serve the interests of the woodchippers?"

Last year, Natural Resources and Environto at sold logs from thinning operations, and the buyer chipped them.

Ms Onus believed the Federal Government was delegating out its responsibility for environmental and heritage protection, and it was questionable if it could still meet international law obligations. The Federal Government was failing to adequately take responsibility for indigenous affairs, including environmental and cultural heritage matters.

***MEDIA RELEASE***

2pm Friday-February 19th - Portland (Vic).

LOGGING OF THE COBBOBOONEE AND OTHER FORESTS MUST STOP SAY ABORIGINAL PEOPLE AND CONSERVATIONISTS AT SIT IN.

There will be a sit in at the office of Denis Napthine, Percy Street Portland, Friday. February 19th at 2 PM.

The protest will include representatives of the Aboriginal community and members of the environmental movement.

The sit in will be addressed by Aunty Betty King, Gournditch Mar Yigar-Kerrup Dhautwarrung Elder and eldest surviving direct descendant of the King of the Yigar clan. Protesters are especially alarmed at the increase in logging in native forest in the Portland district.

The group hopes to raise these matters with Mr Napthine, in order that Mr Napthine can speak directly to the Premier Jeff Kennett about the issues.

The group has a number of demands;

Local traditional owners are very angry that there has been no consultation in any government process (Be that state or federal throughout the whole area, including the Regional Forest Agreements) which have impacted upon forested areas.

The group demands a cease to all forestry operations, until consultation has taken place in the first instance with the indigenous owners/native title claimants, with further negotiations to take place which involves all stakeholders, including industry, green groups, community groups etc.

Failure to comply with these demands will leave the group with no alternative but to seek legal advice to proceed with possibly an interlocatory injunction to stop all forestry operations, including native forest and softwood plantations.

Protesters are also examining the possiblility of direct actions in the forests in the very near future.

Representative for Aunty Betty King and Elder of the Yigar and Kerrup Jmara community Sandra Onus said "We fully intend, as the traditional owners with standing in the High Court, to pursue to the full extent of the law/lore to stop the desecration and destruction of our homelands for the future of all the children of all nationalities'.

Spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Forest Network, Anthony Amis said that "The wanton destruction of our environment is a matter which all people must be concerned about Since the election of the Kennett government, the amount of destruction to Victoria's environment has worsened. Everywhere we go people are saying that they are very worried about what the woodchipping cartels are doing to our precious native forests. We fully support Aboriginal communities in the defence of their homelands against the ravages of the Kennett government".

PROTESTERS WILL BEGIN THE SIT IN AT 2PM

FOR MESSAGES CALL 5578 4249 or (03) 9419 8700. #

 

Portland Observer

MONDAY, February 22,1999

by Dave Reynolds

Group calls for halt to logging

ABORIGINES and conservationists have taken their concerns over logging in the Cobboboonee State Forest to the streets of Portland.

Launching peaceful protests Friday's sit-in outside the outside the electorate office of Member for Portland Denis Napthine and inside the Julia St offices of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Aboriginal community members and conservation activists called for a complete halt to logging in Cobboboonee.

Aboriginal community elder Sandra Onus said a supreme court injunction would be sought to stop the logging in native forest which, she added, was the subject of a native title claim.

Friends of the Earth Forest Network spokesman Anthony Amis warned that unless clearing work was stopped immediately, on-site protests would be held in the forest this week.

Fridays sit-in outside the offices of Dr Napthine was addressed by Gournditch Mar Yigar-Kerrup Dhautwurrung Elder Betty King. “Protesters are especially alarmed at the increase in the amount of logging in the Portland district," she said.

The group hoped to hold talks with Dr Napthine (who was not available), in order that Dr Napthine could speak directly to the Premier Jeff Kennett about the issues. “We will be calling on Mr Kennett to come to Portland to speak with us on the destruction that is taking place.” Ms Onus said.

The group has a number of demands: “Local traditional owners are very angry that there has been no consultation in any government process - be that State or Federal throughout the whole area, including the Regional Forest Agreements – which have impacted upon forested areas.

"We demand a cease to all forestry operations, until consultation has taken place in the first instance with the indigenous owners/native title claimants, with further negotiations to take place which involves all stakeholders including industry, green groups, community groups and so on. Failure to comply with these demands with no alternative but to seek an interlocutory injunction to stop all forestry operations,including native forest and soft-wood plantations.

"We fully intend, as the traditional owners with standing in the High Court, to pursue to the full extent of the law, to stop the desecration and destruction of our homelands for the future of all the children of all nationalities"

Mr Amis said the “...wanton destruction of our environment is a matter, which all people must be concerned about. "Some of the coups are 750 hectares in size -much larger than those in the Otway Ranges. "They are not being selective, they are cutting down everything. "Since the election of the Ken nett government, the destruction to Victoria' s environment has worsened.

“Everywhere we go people are saying that they are very worried about what the woodchip cartels are doing to our precious native forests. "We fully support Aboriginal communities in the defence of their homelands against the ravages of the Kennettt Government.

 

***MEDIA RELEASE***

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26 1999.

ABORIGINAL ELDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS CONFRONT LOGGERS IN COBBOBOONEE STATE FOREST.

Indigenous people and conservationists will today enter a logging coupe in the Cobboboonee State Forest, (located in the states south west) in an attempt to Stop the logging of native forest in the area. Protesters will be led into the area by Aunty Betty King, Gournditch Mar Yigar-Kerrup Dhautwurung Elder and eldest surviving direct descendant of the King of the Yigar clan.

According to Aunty Betty King, "It is ridiculous to be cutting these trees to the ground. What right have these people got to make decisions without firstly consulting with the indigenous people and traditional owners of the area? We haven't been consulted about any of this destruction. We also have a native title claim for the area, yet it seems that they are destroying our country before the claim is finalised".

Spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, Anthony Amis said, "It would appear from Maps of this years Wood Utilisation Plans for the Cobboboonee that the area being harvested hasnt even been properly assessed by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. We already understand that the Department hasn't even got a Forest Management Plan for the area. If they're not supposed to be logging in this area, according to their own maps, then where else are they logging without any plans. It would appear that the Department is going in blind in the Cobboboonee. This attitude will leave the people of the South West with a badly degraded forest for many years to come".

Protesters will walk onto the coupe this afternoon. Several protesters will be carrying spears to show that current forestry operations are severely impacting on traditional hunting grounds.

Media enquiries for the protest should call 5578 4249.

Interested media should meet outside Heywood Post Office at 12.30PM. Action at 1PM.

Portland Observer

26-2-99

Logging protest gathers strength

KOORIS and Friends of the Earth members have taken their fight against logging the Cobboboonee State Forest to the bush.

Camps were set up in logging areas in a bid to prevent further logging. Spokesperson Sandra Onus said the conservationists wanted to highlight the destruction of native forest and Dhautwurung hunting grounds.

Legal advice is still being sought on the possibility of injunctions to stop the timber harvesting.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Aboriginal community members are organising a petition which will call for the halt of all timber harvesting in Cobboboonee. The issue has been posted world wide on the FoE web site, with condemnation for the logging in Cobboboonee coming from Scotland, Europe and North America.

Conservationists have also been encouraged by the support they have received at a local level.

More FoE members and supporters are likely to arrive in the Portland district soon. "We are beginning discussions with legal representatives to pursue interlocutory relief in order to defend our homelands from decimation," Ms Onus said.

"We, as the indigenous owners of Dhaurtwurung Gournditch Mar Kerrup Mar Yigar, demand a complete stop to all forestry/mining or earth disturbance on the basis of:

  • Lack of consultation with traditional owners/native title claimants.
  • Environmental impact studies and cultural heritage issues have not been addressed.
  • Lack of consideration or respect of traditional aboriginal lore."

Aboriginal spokesman Paul Wright said the destruction of the natural habitat damaged the populations of native flora and fauna. As a result, he said, traditional hunting ground were being destroyed, resulting in the inability of indigenous people to hunt on their own lands, perpetuating cultural genocide.

"The connection between indigenous people and the land is of utmost significance," Mr Wright said.

"We have direct communication with the spiritual realm which, in turn, guides us towards tools, weapons and materials essential for every day survival.

"By the destruction of our traditional hunting grounds through logging, our very culture is being fundamentally torn from us.

"This logging in the Cobboboonee can in no way be separated from cultural genocide."

FoE spokesman Anthony Arms said logging was substantial in Cobboboonee.

"Friends of the Earth fear that the amount of residual timber coming out of the forest will treble in the next few years," he said.

"They are chipping a lot of residual logs at the moment.

"Most of what they are taking out of the forest is going into chips - very little appears to be millable timber.

"Most of that is ending up at Midway Forest Products in Geelong and being exported to Japan.

"The Department is being selective in that they are taking out what they call 'defect trees' and then allowing the potentially millable trees to grow over 20 years into sawlogs.

"However, the extent of the tree culling is seriously impacting on wildlife.

"The ecological values of the forest are being compromised.

"Effectively, they are turning the forest into an even aged stand plantation, where profit is the only issue the department is worried about.

"This is a woodchip driven industry working on a 20 year rotation.

"They will go into the forest again after 20 years and chop the whole lot out.

"That doesn't give habitat trees and old growth trees a chance to establish themselves and this leads to cultural genocide because if there are no animals left in the forest and no animal habitat for aboriginal people to hunt then that aspect of their culture is extinguished”.

Round 1 txt

Portland Observer

SPARKS flew when police protesters and loggers came face-to-face in the Cobboboonee State Forest this week. However, the sparks were not from a heated confrontation between timber workers and demonstrators protesting against the logging in Cobboboonee.

It was from a series of fires which sprang up in the forest as Friends of the Earth and Aborigines again went into the logging coup to call for a halt to the destruction of the forest.

A police spokesman said the protest was peaceful.

"They (the protesters) were asked to leave, and they did," he said.

While police and protesters were at the scene, smoke was noticed coining from 20 small fires which started within a 500 metre square area of the forest.

 

One man was arrested at the scene and was taken back to the Portland police questioning.

After being interviewed, a 20-year-old Melbourne man was released on bail after being charged with lighting a fire in a state forest. He is expected to appear in the Portland Magistrates Court later this month.

The fires started about mid-morning on Monday.

A spokesperson for the protestors claimed the arrested man had been trying to smother a section of the fire with dirt. NRE fire manager for Western Victoria, Jon Sanders, said department fire fighters moved in quickly to contain the outbreaks.

Close to 40 fire fighters, three bulldozers, five tankers, a fixed-wing fire bomber, a fixed-wing support aircraft and a helicopter from Melbourne were deployed to tackle the blaze.

According to Mr Sanders, some of the smaller spot fires combined to create larger fires ranging from 10 square metres to half a hectare in size.

He said control lines were quickly established around the fires' perimeter and all of the blazes were due to be brought under control by mid to late Monday afternoon.

"We've deployed crews to help fight a fire in the Little Desert," Mr Sanders said, "so this was something which we didn't really need.

"We were lucky conditions were so still in the forest.

"If there had been any kind of wind, we would've had a whole different story on our hands."

According to police, about 10 protesters turned up at the northern Cobboboonee coup.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Anthony Amis said Monday's protest followed a direction action taken in the Cobboboonee last Friday.

He said protesters were alarmed at the rapid increase in logging in the state's south-west.

According to Mr Arms, the protesters were also concerned that the Department of Natural Resources and Environment had no management plan for the area.

"In effect, the department is going into the forest blind." he said.

"Without a management plan, how can the department claim to be logging sustainably?

"The Kennett Government is hacking down our native environment at a ferocious rate.

"They are jeopardising the health of the forest of the sake of the short-term economic gain for the export woodchip industry."

According to members of the local Aboriginal community, the Cobboboonee State Forest is the subject of a native title claim.

"By the time our claim is heard, they will have taken most of the trees," said Aboriginal spokesperson Betty King.

"Already we are noticing that rivers and streams in the area are running dry - we are very concerned that the logging will also mean a decrease in rainfall.

"All of this affects our traditional hunting grounds, making it very difficult for us to get a feed from the bush in a traditional manner".

Our past txt

Logging Impacts on Fishing

THE WEST VICTORIA REGIONAL FOREST

AGREEMENT AND RECREATIONAL FISHING.


Did you know that the RFA will guarantee export

woodchip companies access to native forests for the next 20 years?


When creeks silt up fishermen miss out!!!


By far the most common effect of most disturbances is the increase in sediment in rivers and streams.


"Increased Ievels of sediment can adversely affect all aspects of freshwater ecosystems by reducing water quality and degrading or destroying habitat. Increased turbidity can have adverse physical, physiological and behavioural effects on stream dwelling plants and animals. Increased sedimentation is listed as a Potentially Threatening Process under the Flora and Fauna Act." Page 195 West Victoria   Comprehensive Regional Assessment   July 1999. Published by the joint Commonwealth and Victoria Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) Sterring Committee.


BASIC STREAM ECOLOGY


A stream is completely dependent on the surrounding land and vegetation in its catchment and is consequently subjected to the effects of actions carried out there. A stream is a system of habitats linked together in a continuous one way flow of water, so the actions on a stream at one point can also affect areas downstream. The majority of native freshwater fishes occur in rivers and streams which form most of the freshwater aquatic habitat in Victoria.


There are an enourmous number of invertebrates (animals without backbones) that live in streams. These include Mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, alderflies, craneflies, blackflies and dragonflies etc. Other stream creatures include aquatic worms, snails small spiders (called watermites), crustacea such as yabbies, nematodes, flatworms, freshwater sponges and freshwater crabs. Many invertebrates such as mayflies hatch from eggs in the water. The invertebrates are found mainly attached to and amongst snags, leaf packs and rocks. Leaves falling into the stream are eaten directly by invertebrates known as "shredders", such as some stonefly and caddisfly larvae, which shred or bite the softer parts of the plant-material. Material not consumed by the shredders is colonised by microorganisms such as aquatic fungi and bacteria and broken down to progressively smaller sizes. Freshwater algae also colonises the leaves and twigs. Invertebrates known as scrapers, such as some mayflies and snails feed directly on the fungi and algae. As the organic material is broken down, the resultant finer material then serves as a food source for other invertebrates which filter material from the water (filterfeeders), or collect deposited material on stream beds (detritus feeders).


"Of the 21 native freshwater fish species recorded from the west region, 10 are listed as threatened fauna in Victoria (NRE 1999) ... nine of the priority acquatic macroinvertebrate species known from the West region have been identified as threatened in Victoria (CNR 1995e) " ibid.


These animals, in turn are preyed upon by other invertebrates and animals such as fish and platypus. Fish are then a food source for water birds and other fish eating animals. Insects and other terrestrial invertebrates which live in the riparian vegetation and fall into rivers and streams form a substantial part of the diet of many native and introduced fish species.


Newly emerged mayfly adults need bushes near the stream to rest. Trees protect the swarms of mayflies from wind. Other material from trees such as leaf litter, is utilised by blackfish larvae/juveniles as nursery grounds, providing their food source and shelter. As well as providing in-stream habitat (such as fallen logs, branches, bark, leaves and submerged tree roots etc), the root systems of riparian (riverside) vegetation bind streamside substrate, preventing erosion and hence high turbidity levels and increased siltation. Without streamside vegetation the entire food chain is at risk.


As freshwater ecosystems get silted up, there is a decrease in diversity of macroinvertebrates, often decreasing to just populations of worms which can survive in the silt bed. Problem fish such as European Carp are best suited for seeking out these worms as the Carp have a bottom grubbing feeding style.


'The major single cause throughout the world of the extinction of populations of fish (and indeed most other species of both plants and animals) is the destruction of habitat". Dr Peter Maitland.


HOW CAN LOGGING AND CLEARING OF NATIVE VEGETATION EFFECT FISHING STOCKS?


Sediment (particles of material suspended in the water column or deposited in the stream bed) is a natural component of rivers and streams. Natural erosion and decay processes constantly deliver sediment to streams, so that all waterways carry some level of sediment. This is normally low in upland streams, but can be relatively higher in lowland rivers. Artificially increased loads of sediment, resulting from human activity, can have adverse effects on both the physical form of the river, and aquatic flora and fauna. Timber harvesting is one human activity that increases sediment levels in rivers and streams. Most sediment from the catchment land is washed into rivers and streams during periods of high rainfall when overland flow is generated. In regards to timber harvesting, soil erosion from roading is inevitable.


All forestry operations are supposed to be carried out in accordance to the Code of Forest Practices. There are two types of standards for public and private land. Generally the code for private lead is less strict. Standards in the Code are often a bare minimum. Department studies to justify catchment management are not accountable to peer review so their is no independent analysis of the Code. 20 metre stream buffers are inadequate, further protection must be given to the headwaters of creeks and streams and drainage lines to protect water values. Non Heritage Rivers deserve much wider buffers. Remember: If the creeks silt up, fishermen miss out! Creeks and dreams deserve better protection from logging!


The major effect of sedimentation is the blanketing of the stream bed (substratum) and the filling of pools and scour holes. Clogging of the stream bed removes spaces between particles which are used as rearing and habitat areas by juvenile fish, small species and stream invertebrates. The eggs of species such as Macquarie Perch (Macquaria austrailasica) which are deposited in gravel substrate are liable to smothering by sediment. Silt clogs mayfly gills and smothers the bed of the river (where they live) and kills algae growing on rocks (their food). Deposited silt cam suffocate and kill Blackfish eggs high turbidity levels cam be lethal to blackfish larvae and juveniles. Even adults have been observed dying in highly turbid river water, their gills clogged up with fine sediment. Heavy siltation cam also smother habitat, spawning grounds and food sources and can move into estuaries, smothering fish breeding grounds, particulary after periods of high rainfall.


Adult blackfish for instance live in submerged hollow logs or amongst clumps of logs/branches (called snags) or submerged tree roots. Hollow logs are used for breeding which occurs in early summer. A female and a male pair up, the female laying several hundred sticky eggs which attach in layers to the bottom of the inside of the log. Only about 500 eggs nearly 4mm in diameter are laid by a 30Omm female. The eggs are then guarded by the male (not the female), who also fans away any silt which may settle on the eggs. Depositing eggs in less suitable areas such as sediment covered logs will lead to reduced egg and larvae survival.


Increased levels of sediment can adversely effect all aspects of freshwater ecosystems by: reducing light penetration, increasing loads of nutrients and toxic substances attached to sediment particles, clogging gills and causing asphyxiation, causing illness and reduced growth rates or death through ingestion, reduced visibility, filling spaces in the river bed and destroying important habitat, working its way into the stream bed, interfering with feeding by organisms that filter food from the water column, destroying attachment sites for animals and eggs and smothering plants.


Erosion often liberates soluble nutrients, but also sediment particles have nutrient molecules attached, which ultimately pollute the river system. Logging also affects water yield which in turn affects the temperature of the water, thereby threatening fish survival. Reduced streamflows may exacerbate water quality problems. In regards to the Otways, Otways Ranges Enviromment Network found that logging on an 80 year rotation basis would reduce water yield by 25 to 33% because young trees require large amounts of water to grow. Logging can also cause increased nutrients to enter waterways. Algal blooms are a result of nutrient enrichment. These blooms are caused by a combination of the build up of nutrients and reduced water flows. Excessive algal growth deprives waters of oxygen, resulting in slimy, smelly water which klls fish and causes rashes and eye irritations in humans. Algal blooms can also make fish toxic for human consumption.


Some of the rivers, creeks and catchments affected by logging and the RFA in the west of the state include; The Loddon, The Campaspe, The Werribee, The Lerderderg. The Avoca, The Barwon, The Gellibrand, The Ford, The Aire, The Curdies, The Barham, The Moorabool, The Yaloak, The Leigh, The Glenelg, The Surrey, The Manners, Riddells Creek, Spring Creak, Fiery Creek, Mount Emu Creek etc.


For more information call Forest Network on (03) 9419 8700.

http://www.nativefish.asn.au/

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