Region: Otways

Legal Number: LEGL/93-49

Plantation: Webster Hill

Conservation Priority: High

Plantation within AKD Softwoods area of supply.

Plantation within SPE Exports (Geelong) area of supply.

Click here for Otways map.

93-49a Feb 01: DNRE/Hancock licence area. This native forest might possibly be logged in the future.

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

Water Catchment Area: GELLIBRAND RIVER CATCHMENT. LAND USE DETERMINATION (LUD) 24/8/83. (LUD’s replaced with Special Area Plans under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994).

November 2004: Appalling logging track on southern boundary of this plantation on sandy soils. This is probably the worst quality logging road in their entire Hancock Victorian estate.

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


Land System: Steep slopes of ranges (Aire).

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.

Geology: Lower Cretaceous sandstone, mudstone.

Landscape: Deeply dissected hills.

Soils: Brown gradational soils.

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

THREATENED FISH NOTES - GELLIBRAND RIVER: Best Blackfish stream on mainland Australia.

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".

November 2004: Appalling logging track on southern boundary of this plantation on sandy soils. This is probably the worst quality logging road in their entire Hancock Victorian estate. Just how do you actually stop gully erosion of this severity?

Plantation Catchment: HW one trib arm of unnamed creek flowing NW into Gellibrand River. Several creeks flow east into Gellibrand River.

Catchment Managment Authority: Corangamite Catchment Management Authority

Hancock Watch Site visit Feb 01: Drove onto site, however workers were in plantation and I had to drive through quite quickly - hence proper site look not possible. Roads looked OK but mid way through the plantation the road was very steep, probably meaning that the plantation when harvested would also be on very steep slopes.

Also see November 2004 Logging Updates Page

‘A report on the Gellibrand River (South Otway) Catchment - Soil Conservation Authority 1979’.

“p1 The Gellibrand River is an extremely important source of domestic water for the south of the western district. . . p2 Over the drier months the Carlisle River - Camperdown Otway main pipeline is unable to meet peak demand for water supply in Warrnambool, and this led to the Water Commission installing the South Otway system. The South Otway pumps and pipeline provide 13/ML/day through the drier months of the year, flow in the Gellibrand River at the pump station for the months of December to March averaging 183 ML/day . . .

p8 The combination of high rainfall and steeply dissected slopes in the Otway Ranges suggest high potential hazards of soil erosion and water supply degradation. Any operation involving soil disturbance is likely to cause short-term quality deterioration, and possibly longer term problems. The high rainfall produces good growing conditions, but major soil losses can occur before natural regeneration stabilises a disturbed area, and an active revegetation program is preferable. . .”

“p10 Harvesting of Mountain Ash necessitates clearfelling, followed by managed re-establishment. During logging the following changes occur: a change in the hydrological balance of rainfall, vegetation, and soil; removal of the protective litter on the surface; disturbance of soil along roads, tracks, snig tracks, and log landings; and hard-surfacing of access roads and tracks. Together these cause increases in surface runoff and sheet and rill erosion, resulting in colloidal material and sediment in run off . . . Private pine planting operations . . . are accompanied by similar potential water supply hazards to hardwood forestry. However because of the shorter rotation, management operations are more frequent. . .”

November 2004: Hancock Watch witnessed torched drums in log dumps in this plantation. Many native trees were also logged and burnt at this location.

‘Report on a proposed land use determination for the Gellibrand River Catchment - Soil Conservation Authroity 1983’

“p2 Most of the water from the Gellibrand River Catchment which is used for water supply, is taken directly from the river or its tributaries at pump or gravity offtake. Apart from the case of the Colac Waterworks Trust Reservoirs, there is no significant water detention to allow settlement of suspended solids, clarification and self-purification over time. The quality of water taken into the water supply pipeline is therefore the raw quality of the river flow. The quality of the river water is in turn responsive to events in the catchment. High peak flows associated with heavy storms may initiate streambank erosion; any earth disturbance in the catchment may cause deterioration in runoff water quality due to increases in turbidity and suspended sediment. There are a number of land uses and management practices occurring in the catchment which necessitate earth disturbance and which may cause erosion. These include land clearing, road construction, hardwood and softwood operations, extractive industries and some farming activities...”

“p57 The lower cretaceous sediments in the Otways are known for their relatively high landslide hazard.

Factors considered area prone to landsliding include;

*the presence of a previous slope failure

*high annual rainfall

*moderate to steep slopes

*suitable lithogies

*deep weathering

*favourably orientated discontinuties”

p59 Diversion of drainage water onto steep slopes, for example from road culverts and cutoff drains, can also exacerbate potentially unstable slopes. Slumps, mainly in the surface soil material, are more common than large-scale rock and soil landslides. Slumps may occur in fill material, on steep cut slopes or on hillsides after heavy rain or removal of vegetation. Where such earth movements occur close to drainage lines, they can be a major source of turbidity and sediment. Most of the landslides ... occur in the AIRE land system and on freehold land which had been cleared. This includes an area on Lardner Track, now the Webster Hill softwood plantation. While Cooney noted that dense tree cover probably obscured many landslides in parts of his study area, there is still an apparent link demonstrated between land clearing and landslides. The large landslides which have occurred in the catchment can be considered dormant. On the other hand, quite a few of the small landslides are active. Cooney noticed a very strong tendency for small landslides to occur in previously failed materials, that is, within prior large landslides.”

p100 “. . . These existing and proposed plantations are located mainly on slopes of the AIRE land system, where the management problems of agriculture allow relatively cheap land purchase. Plantations have been established on both previously cleared pasture land and on blocks which had been under hardwood timber. The cleared land was often run-down, having blackberries in the drainage lines. The standing timber on the forested blocks was usually on steep slopes. . .

p101 Plantations have also been established on the deep soils and gentle slopes of the BEECH FOREST land system. However, the manager of one company believes that pines grown in such high rainfall areas grow too fast, are too light, and have a grain too coarse for structural use of the timber. Cases of toppling and multiple leaders have been observed in some Pinus radiata plantations on exposed sites on the Otways ridge and slopes. These problems are thought to be associated with the high rainfall conditions, and the high levels of residual nitrogen and phosphorus on sites previously used for agriculture (Flinn D.W., 1982, pers. comm.). . .Some plantation establishment has been attempted on the grey sand soils, with very poor results, particularly where there are hardpans in the soil profile...”

November 2004: Native vegetation removal inside this plantation.

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."

Gellibrand River: Flows from mountainous forested country to grazing land, boulder and mud bottom, mostly sand bottom in the middle reaches. Catchment has been partially modified and water is at times turbid. Limited access to the upper reaches upstream of Gellibrand which carry abundant smaller river Blackfish, brown trout, eels and tupong. Largest size blackfish in Victoria and trophy size brown trout are taken from this river. Estauary has Australian salmon, eels, mullet and some bream and estuary perch.

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)

93-49b Feb 01: DNRE/Hancock licence area. This native forest might possibly be logged.
Victree Gellibrand River Blackfish Shortfinned Eels Tupong Trout Colac-Otways