Region: Otways

Legal Number: LEGL/93-42/1 - LEGL/93-43/1

Plantation: Aire Valley

Approximate Size: 1600ha

Conservation Priority: High

Cool Temperate Rainforest and buffers

Plantation within AKD Softwoods area of supply.

Plantation within SPE Exports (Geelong) area of supply.

Click here for Otways map.

93-43a Feb 01: Just off Aire Valley Road upstream of Hopetoun Falls. Pine bulldozed to edge of drainage line of the Aire River. Such poor practices are legal within the constraints of the Code of Forest Practices. Responsibility for enforcing the Code in plantations rests with local councils and not the State Government.

Plantations where the Secretary CNR retains specified rights to harvest hardwood sawlogs.

1991 Aerial photgraph of the north eastern portion of the Aire River Plantations. Beauchamp Falls is marked in yellow, the cool temperate rainforest of Deppeler Creek is marked in green. The area marked in purple is an area of hardwoods which the DSE retains specific rights to log and is a very sensitive area as it is located in close proximity to Cool Temperate Rainforest. The area in the north east portion of the photo is State Forest and is not controlled by Hancock.

This plantation was very likely to be aerially sprayed with 2,4,5-T between 1968 and 1977. The Dioxin TCDD may still exist in soil in this plantation. For more historical data on 2,4,5-T click here. For more information concerning the continuing health crisis concerning 2,4,5-T please forward to here.

Herbicides Used by Hancock in Pine Plantations - Ballarat Region Victoria

Herbicide Label Rate max as kg/ha Used to control Notes Application
Clopyralid 2.55 Woody Weeds Highly Toxic/Potential Ground water Contaminant air or ground
Glufosinate Ammonium 1 Woody Weeds    
Glyphosate 3.6 Herbaceous and woody weeds, noxious weeds    
Hexazinone 4 Woody Weeds Ground Water Contaminant Aerial, ground, spot
Metsulfuron-Methyl 0.06 Woody Weeds, Noxious Weeds Potential Ground Water Contaminant Aerial, ground or spot
Triclopyr 3 Woody and Noxious Weeds   Ground, spot, basal bark


Incomplete Herbicide Regime:

November 1985 - 42 hectares sprayed with 252 litres Velpar and 420 litres Ulvapron.

December 1988 - 139.3 ha sprayed with 1195 litres of Velpar and unknown quantity of Ulvapron (probably 1400 litres) on plantation areas established between 1981 and 1987.

October 1990 - 35 hectares sprayed with 137 kg of Velpar and unknown quantity of Ulvapron (probably 350 litres).

Late 1991 - 62.5 hectares sprayed with 250 kg Velpar ULW to kill dogwood, fireweed, grass and blackberry.

July 01: Beauchamp Falls on Deppeler Creek on the eastern edge of this plantation mass is a major tourist attraction in the Otways. Pity that punters have to endure wall to wall pine plantations and very poor potholed 'tourist' roads to get to this waterfall. That is if they survive likely encounters with log trucks who compete for roads with tourists.

Land System: Steep slopes of ranges (Aire)* and Plateaux on crests of ranges (Beech Forest)*.

Geology: Lower Cretaceous sandstone, mudstone.

Landscape: Deeply dissected hills and Rolling Hills.

Soils: Brown gradational soils.

Forms of soil deterioration: Sheet, rill and landscape erosion, nutrient decline, surface compaction.

Southernmost boundary of plantation (approx 4km’s) borders West Barham Water Supply Catchment.

Other links:

July 01: Remnant regenerating vegetation near Beauchamp Falls in the Deppeler Creek catchment. Earmarked to be logged by Hancock?

THREATENED FISH NOTES - AIRE RIVER: Highest rainfall area in Victoria. Great habitat values in its mid reaches. Sediment/herbicide pollution from upstream logging would be a disaster. Some of the best habitat for Australian Grayling in the state in the lower reaches as well as Spotted Galaxias, Broadfinned Galaxias and common Tupong .

THREATENED FISH NOTES - BARHAM RIVER: Does contain Australian Grayling.

Responsible Authority: Colac Otway Shire Council

Quote of the year 2002: "Colac Otway Shire 6/12/02. Freedom of Information Request.

In response to your request for information relating to the use of herbicides by plantation companies, I advise that there are no records within Council, as plantation companies are not yet required to advise either Council or the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of their intention to conduct herbicide applications.

Yours sincerely - Freedom of Information Officer - Colac Otway Shire".

Plantation Catchment: Several small creeks flowing east into Falls Creek/Barham River East Branch/Mounts Bay Marengo.
Head waters of Falls Creek on edge of plantation. Several creeks flow NE inside plantation into Walsh Creek/Aire River/Lake Horden.
(North of Aire River-near Beech Forest - Mount Sabine Road): Much of the upper catchment (4 creek systems) are the headwaters of Deppeler Creek/Sth Beauchamp Falls/Aire River/Lake Horden.
All of Pulpit Creek catchment and 5 other creek systems/Aire River under pine.
Entire Congram Creek/Congram falls is under pine (bar head waters of one tribuatory).
One creek in NW flows east into dam south of Beech Forest.
(South of Aire River): Entire subcatchment/large portion of unnamed creek/Rileys Ridge/Barham River East Branch/Mounts Bay Marengo is under pine.
Large portion of the Head waters of north west creeks flowing into Seaview Creek/Barham River East Branch/Mounts Bay Marengo is under pine.
Entire Head Waters of Clearwater Creek, Farrell Creek, Nigger Creek, Flanagan Creek, and 3 other unnamed creeks flowing north into Aire River under pine.
3/4 or 8km's of top part of Aire River is under pine.

"Due to high rainfall in the Aire Valley area - timber is structurally inferior if harvested at too young an age" DCE - Softwood Assets Review. January 1991. CS First Boston.

Catchment Managment Authority: Corangamite Catchment Management Authority

November 2004: Atrocious logging on a tributary of Congram Creek on the north western area of the Aire River plantations. This logging would most likely fail an independent coupe audit as logging refuse has been left in drainage lines. Colac Otway Shire is the reponsible authority at this site. Is this practice really certifiable under the Forest Stewardship Council?

Hancock Watch Site visit Feb 01: Huge plantation taking up an entire valley. Entered area through Aire Valley Road. Drove down Flanagan Road onto Beauchamp Falls Road. Entered picnic area but due to time constraints did not do walk onto Deppler Creek (DNRE licence area). Drove back onto Aire Valley Road, turning righ onto Congrams Break Road. Drove until the dead end and walked a slight way through pines until I saw another DNRE licence area - unlogged. Stopped by blackberries. Drove back onto Aire Valley Road went to Hopetoun Falls took a road which I believe ran onto Congram Creek Road. Drove until top of hill which gave view over valley. Drove back down Congram Creek Road, stopped at a couple of gullies. Drove past Hopetoun Falls picnic area back onto Aire Valley Road. A couple of hundred metres passed Hopetoun Falls a recent logging operation had been taking place. Much soil disturbance with trees (pine) and some wattle had been fallen into gully line. Roading was dismal with alot of potential erosion occurring.

Contacted Colac-Otway Shire about these activities who carried out a site inspection on 9/3/01. In a letter dated 19/3/01 from Mark Walker Environmental Planner "It should be noted that the inspection was conducted with reference to Chapter 3 of the Code of Forest Practices for Timber Production. Chapter 3 sets the operational goals and guidelines for planning, establishment, tending, harvesting, regenerating and roading of plantations on private land as well as for logging native forest on private land. The use of Hancock owned land for timber plantations is a pre-existing land use before the introduction of the new format planning scheme, as such timber production is not subject to specific planning permits.

The Code provides for controls on timber harvesting to protect water quality by maintaining a minimum buffer of 20m for permanent streams, and a 10m filter strip for temporary streams and drainage lines. Timber extraction can still take place within the buffer zone provided there is minimal disturbance by vehicles. Various techniques are available to facilitate this type of extraction. Subsequent site preparation (for replanting in the case of plantations) by machinery can occur as close as 5m to the edge of a permanent stream.

Within the coupe in the site referred to . . . site preparation activities for replanting has pushed slash to within 10m of the stream edge, however this is allowable under the code.

Site preparation has been undertaken with a bulldozer and has been designed to maintain surface roughness and limit catchment size bt creating a hummocky surface. Increased surface roughness allows rainfall infiltration and reduces sediment loss from surface run-off. The high level of slash will additionally trap and reduce sediment loss . . . "

On the other side of the road trees had been taken from very steep slopes and trees bulldozed into a gully head. Lack of time constrained me from looking at the southern half of the plantation - need 2 days!

Also see November 2004 Logging Updates Page

Other Notes: A study of the Land in the catchments of the Otway Range and Adjacent Plains - Soil Conservation Authority 1981.

*“p52 Aire land system: The steeply dissected spurs and ridges on the wetter parts of the Otway Range comprise the Aire land system, the largest land system in the study area... The soils are young and moderately fertile ... Pine forests cover large areas of this land system... The main hazards to land use are landslips and sheet erosion. Losses in organic matter and soil structure are often apparent following clearing.

*p64 Beech Forest land system: Along the crest of the wettest part of the Otway Range lies a rolling plain with rounded hills and shallow valleys. This area has one of the highest annual rainfalls in Victoria, averaging almost 2000mm at Weeaproinah. Prior to settlement late last century, tall open forests, E.regnans and associated species dominated the landscape, but now most areas have been cleared for agriculture...The perennial nature of many of the creeks and drainage lines gives the area high water catchment values. Conflict also arises between its scenic appeal as a rural landscape and the conversion of farmland to softwood plantations”.

July 01: Cool Temperate Rainforest on Deppeler Creek on the walk to Beauchamp Falls.

A study of the Land in the catchments of the Otway Range and Adjacent Plains - Soil Conservation Authority 1981.

p143 "Both establishment and harvesting of hardwood and softwood forests cause serious changes to the natural hydrological balance. Pine establishment on disused agricultural land and previously forested land has led to widespread deterioration. The steep north and west facing slopes of Lorne, Forrest, Moggs Creek, Aire, Mt Mackenzie, Bunker Hill and Yahoo Creek land systems are the most severely affected. Sheet erosion losses can be minimised by working in coupes along the contour, and by maintaining adequate vegetative cover with litter layers over the soil surface. The incidence of landslips increases following harvesting, when the binding effect of tree roots is removed and the soil is subject to saturation for longer periods. The study area share the current trend to reduce the total area of productive forest land and manage this smaller area for higher yields. As with agriculture, nutrients removed in forest produce need to be replaced through the use of fertilisers. The fertiliser requirements of soils designated for long-term hardwood and softwood production require investigation.

p142 Steep slopes in and around drainage lines are more stable under hardwood than softwood forestry, because of longer growth period and more selective logging practices".

Aire River: Flows from mountainous forested country to grazing land. Bottom changes from rock upstream, to mud in lower reaches. Mostly bushland except for pine plantations in the headwaters and cleared land below the Great Ocean Road. Carries brown trout to 700g, but most fish are smaller, river blackfish, tupong, short-finned eels, and some grayling.

Barham River: Fast flowing from mountainous forested country to grazing land, rock and mud bottom. Some of the stream has been channelised, while other areas have been modified by agriculture. A small river and fish do not, on average, grow particulary large. Access is good and a popular angling water for trout particularly in the headwaters and for esturaine species. Carries brown trout to 700g, average 140g, short-finned eels, tupong and some grayling to 180g, with bream and some estuary perch, mullet, salmon and flounder in the lower reaches.

Source: A Guide to the Inland Angling Waters of Victoria by BR Tunbridge, PL Rogan, CA Barnham. Department Conservation and Environment. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, 123 Brown St, Heidelberg, 3084. (4th ed - 1991)

93-43b Access road bulldozed through 10 feet of soil in possibly the wettest area in Victoria.

93-43c Just off Aire Valley Road upstream of Hopetoun Falls. More native vegetation destroyed with pine bulldozed near the gully/drainage line. Shot taken in mid-summer in the middle of a 3 year drought.

93-43d Pine cone chewed probably by Yellow Tail Black Cockatoo? Pine cones and seeds can be spread through the forest often by birds thereby causing wilding problems by spreading the seeds and cones to places far away from the actual plantation.

93-43e Access track construction. OK'd by Colac-Otway Shire. What will happen after a heavy downpour?

93-43f Innovative culvert design? Congram Creek Road.

93-43g View looking south into Aire Valley from top of Congram Creek Road. Aire Valley plantations stretch for approximately 6km long by 8 km wide in an area with the heaviest rainfall in Victoria.

93-43h Native vegetation just off Congram Creek Road. DNRE/hancock have several licence areas throughout the Aire Valley plantations where hardwood can be extracted.

93-43i: July 2001 - Otway Ranges. Appalling creek crossing, with non plantation species cut into gully line. This shot taken off Robbins Road. The creek crossing is through a tributary of Pulpit Creek which flows into the Aire River. No culverts or drains.

93-43j: Appalling logging operation off Robbins Road. Note destruction of non-plantation species. July 2001.

93-43k: Just off the Aire River in a 71 year old Californian Redwood plantation. July 2001.
Victree Aire River Barham River Australian Grayling Galaxias Tupong Eels Blackfish High Colac/Otways