May 20 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Smiths Creek - Parish of Jumbuk. (College Creek Agricultural Reserve site). Logging is occurring in close proximity to a stand of cool temperate rainforest near this location. The public have not as yet been privy to Hancock's rainforest Best Management Plans, although this was demanded by Forest Stewardship Council as early as 2004. The 2004 audit in regards to rainforest and buffers states "These issues are of such importance and urgency that they heighten the importance of completing the BMP for rainforest management as soon as possible, but at the same time ensuring that a high quality, technically sound product results, with strong independent peer review and stakeholder input. Until this BMP process is completed, on-the-ground management activities by HVP are expected to take a strongly "precautionary" approach, erring on the side of larger, rather than smaller, buffers. Also HVP should continue to seek stakeholder input for the design of current buffers, as it has done recently, though other mechanisms should be explored as some stakeholders may not be able to continue to provide such inputs under the current system".
So serious has the rainforest issue been with FSC that in 2004 Hancock were presented with a Corrective Action Request Corrective Action Request: The Rainforest Management BMP shall be completed by 1 March 2005 including and independent peer review and further stakeholder input. The current accepted practice of stakeholder involvement in boundary marking is to continue with coupes where HVP harvests plantations adjacent to any areas of Cool or Warm Temperate Rainforest.
More problems arose in 2005 and the FSC auditor issued a Follow-up Action: MAJOR CAR 9-2005 By the end of 2005, HVP shall complete the Rainforest BMP with peer review and external public review, including review of proposed buffer widths, and be implementing the BMP.
By May 2006 the public still have not had input into this process. Hancock meanwhile continue to threaten rainforest in numerous locations, most notably Morwell River East Branch, Macks Creek and now Smiths Creek. The company have been granting buffers less than 20 metres in places. It would appear to Hancock Watch that the company is simply delaying the FSC rainforest process as long as possible so that it can log key buffers. Is FSC being taken for a ride by Hancock?
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Budgeree Road Parish of Jumbuk. As highlighted last year (August 2005), much of the above area was inside the Cores and Links Reserve and was logged by the company in mid 2005. After this controversy the area was shown to FSC Auditors in their March 2006 audit as another example of the company breaching trust with the local community and the principles of the FSC. Two months after the audit the company has been using the site as a log dump, as a coupe located to the south has recently been logged. This coupe could be regarded as being highly sensitive as it contains remnants of Cool Temperate Rainforest. Hancock informed noone when they started logging this contentious coupe in the past few weeks and again have run roughshod over community concerns about cool temperate rainforest. Where is the consultation?
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Morwell River East Branch. Track accessing small controversial coupe (Allotment 57 Parish of Wonyip).
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Morwell River East Branch. Small controversial coupe (Allotment 57 Parish of Wonyip). Rainforest species such as Myrtle Beech were observed in gully at right of photo and in gully at the bottom of the photo. Leaves from beech trees were also observed halfway up the coupe.
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Morwell River East Branch. Small controversial coupe (Allotment 57 Parish of Wonyip).
May 2006 Strzelecki Ranges - Morwell River East Branch. Small controversial coupe (Allotment 57 Parish of Wonyip): Logging in close proximity to this Myrtle Beech 'isolate'. Two or three other Beech were located in close proximity to this beech. It is obvious that this was severely stressed forest probably just recovering from the impacts of the logging conducted in the 1970's. It is impossible to know what Hancock's policy is to rainforest isolates as their Rainforest BMP is not yet available to the public, but it was aupposed to be available over 2 years ago!
May 2006 Strzelecki Ranges - Morwell River East Branch. Small controversial coupe (Allotment 57 Parish of Wonyip): Logging within 10 metres of younger beech found in this gully on the western side of the recently logged coupe.
May 2006 Strzelecki Ranges - Morwell River East Branch. (Allotment 57 Parish of Wonyip): Plenty of Myrtle Beech leaves were found midway on the logging track inside this coupe. No Beech trees with large enough limbs were observed to be still standing where these leaves were observed, possibly meaning that a smaller Beech tree or (trees) had been destroyed near this location during the recent logging of the coupe.
May 2006 Strzelecki Ranges - Morwell River East Branch. (Allotment 57 Parish of Wonyip): Hancock logging within nominated buffer zones as determined by pink tape in this photo. Is there were the Myrtle leaves were sourced from?
Contoversial pine coupe recently clearfelled. Photo taken from International Paragliding site.
More information on this plantation see here.
Published Letter to the Editor (The Bright Observer)
Time to end Logging and spraying of Pine Plantations on steep slopes
In the Wandiligong Valley (Morses Creek) we have recently seen the logging of wind damaged plantations on very steep hillsides (over 30 degrees and possibly up to 40 degrees). This logging is not acceptable under modern land management practices and Government and the Alpine Shire needs to take action to make sure that these areas are not replanted to pines and that they are returned to public ownership as native forests and protected from logging.
I understand that Hancock’s which manages and logs these plantations under a perpetual lease from the Government would not be averse to seeing the steeper slopes retired from logging providing they were assisted financially to convert the plantations back to natives.
The Alpine Shire tourism industry trades on a "clean & green" image and the scenic qualities of the region. It seems incongruous that clear felling of pines can be permitted in such close proximity to the historic township of Wandiligong and the commercial hub of Bright.
The ongoing logging of these areas creates a range of adverse environmental and economic impacts including water qualify and erosion issues and spraying of herbicide, as well as issues relating to weeds, burning off and visual impacts. Recently, just prior to a rain event, the logging debris was put on fire and left to choke the Wandiligong (Morses Creek) Valley with pine smoke for days as the wood smouldered after rain. This occurred right in the middle of the Autumn Festival when the area is visited by hundreds of tourists.
For decades now we have been advised by government and others of the importance of protecting water catchments and water quality. Despite this we continue to see clear felling of pines on the steep slopes such as those close to Morse's Creek. When the logging was being undertaken I was amazed to witness heavy machinery traveling directly up the fall line of the slope which appears to be as steep as 40 degrees. The tracks were left to act as drains with no cross drain being installed to minimise erosion.
There are plans to aerial spray herbicide (this may have already occurred) in relatively close proximity to homes and in a valley where wind currents are very difficult to predict. Some may say that these matters are covered by regulations but I ask anybody, particularly those with young children, how they may feel about the prospect of weed control chemicals being sprayed from a helicopter in a location relatively nearby homes and schools. This issue of fine droplet drift is a real concern given the vagaries of air currents in mountainous areas where air densities, movement and mixing can be unpredictable.
Chemicals used in this work can be non selective (kill all plant species) and partially residual in the soil. Some chemicals have the potential be transported from the site (particularly on steep slopes) after rainfall events and through normal soil water movement.
Yours sincerely Chris Harris May 11, 2006
May 2006: Wandiligong Plantation near Bright in north east Victoria: Pine logging occurring within 5 metres of Morses Creek.
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Allotments 8 and 6A Parish of Budgeree. Morwell River East Branch. Pine plantation established by APM (Australian Paper Manufacturers) in the 1970's. Now being clearfelled and certifed by the Forest Stewardship Council.
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Allotment 8 Parish of Budgeree. Morwell River East Branch log landing with high potential of erosion.
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges - Allotment 8 Parish of Budgeree. Morwell River East Branch. Unprotected drainage line with steep slopes.
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges. Pine plantations in very close proximity to Middle Creek in the northern Strzeleckis. These pine plantations were probably established in the 1960's. Note also the weed infestation of Blackberry and English Ivy. Who is responsible for controlling these weeds?
May 2006: Strzelecki Ranges. Pine plantations in very close proximity to Middle Creek in the northern Strzeleckis. Weed infestation.
May 2006: ditto