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Latest News on Wombat Forest Community Forest Management

Even up to the recent past native forests were cleared for plantations. The Wombat Forest is one of many areas that had native forest replaced with plantation. Plantations are commonly made up of exotic monocultures such as Pinus Radiata. This link shows some areas and issues with such plantations. Native forests are logged in 80 year cycles while plantations are logged in relatively short 10-20 year rotations. This clearfelling initially results in increased sedimentary run-off but is then followed by reduced water yield during regrowth. In this way plantations have potentially four times the effect in terms of negative impacts over the same period. Another drawback of plantations is that they perpetually exclude native species.

 

This series of photos illustrates how clearfelling can severely impact on water quality. Depressions left by logging machinery fill with water that becomes stagnant and hosts dangerous pathogens. After rain the polluted water is flushed into waterways that often provide drinking water for rural communities and habitat for numerous freshwater species. The sediments in the water also choke these species just as we humans would suffer in a extended dust storm. This area is in the headwater catchments of the Murray river. It is eay to see how these destructive management practices can impact upon all the natural systems and organisms between the headwaters and the Great Southern Ocean.

 

 

This logging coup is right in the middle of an ephemeral (seasonal) watercourse. The above photos illustrate in general the extent to which the Wombat Forest has been exploited for timber over the last 150 years. There is a distinct lack of older trees which is of concern as these "senescent" or "over-mature" trees are the ones that provide habitat for the species that make up the biodiversity of a forest. In addition, the failure to protect riparian (streamside) vegetation will result in poor water quality throughout the entire river system downstream from where it feeds into. Unfortunately our forest managers believe that forests are only there to provide timber for sale and that to sell timber we must remain "competitive in a global market". This economic pressure leads to clearfelling being used as a logging and forest management system which, in turn, results in a degradation of the intrinsic natural values of forest.

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