On this page
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.
Cobboboonee: A History of Poor Management and Over-Clearing:
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.
has now stopped, but some people now want to log the forest for firewood!
Values of the Portland Forest and nearby woodlands, swamps and heathlands:
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
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.
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.
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%.
Cobboboonee Forest has become fragmented. There has also been a loss
of canopy, due to the impact of logging.
make matters worse, in recent years selective logging has been replaced
with wholesale clearing.
Consequent Loss of Birds and Animals:
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.
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:
tracks into the forest and changed undergrowth species have allowed
in feral animals. Fox control is a key issue in preserving native animals
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:
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
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.
factor is that some orchids are ready for flowering in the spring, and
therefore burning off should not be done at this time.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
build-up of insectivorous birds and insectivore species in an unsprayed
area of farmland, garden or forest, tends to keep pests under control.
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
Friends of the Earth Forest Network
Contact for Aunty Betty King local indigenous elder (03) 5521 7218
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.
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. #
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.
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.
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:
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
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
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.
For more information call Forest Network on (03) 9419 8700.