Key sections of the Strezlecki Forests in South Gippsland are about to be handed back into public ownership.
These beautiful, diverse, old growth forests were privatised by a Liberal Government twenty-five years ago. They are only just being handed back to the public after being logged. Their deep valleys contain significant stands of rainforest.
These forests are highly biodiverse, equivalent to tall, wet forests found in the Central Highlands and proposed Great Forest National Park but with a unique mix of warm and cool-temperate species found only in the Strezleckis.
These forests should now be protected within an expanded Tarra Bulga National Park, to be permanently reserved and safe from further logging.
The Cores and Links Agreement is flawed and key links, and highly significant rainforest is not even in the Agreement. It’s time to do better, Daniel Andrews!
The ‘Cores and Links’ Agreement
The ‘Cores and Links’ agreement was negotiated by the Bracks-Brumby Labor Government with Hancocks Victoria Plantations and signed in 2008.
Under the agreement, forests designated for timber harvesting in the Strezleckis could be handed back into public ownership after being logged (“once-off logging”) and re-forested.
The 2017 Hand-back areas
The area covered by the first hand-back includes three areas adjacent to Gunyah Gunyah Forest Reserve, an area in the Ryton Link, and College Creek. This includes areas already technically handed back by HPV as well as those designated to be handed back in 2017.
(For more detail on these handback areas, see the map and article at http://andreamillsom.com/strezlecki-forest-agreement/).
The gaps in the Agreement – Rainforest & the link to Tarra Bulga
Gunyah Half of the rainforest site of significance in the upper Agnes is outside the handback area, and the ridges above this rainforest are being logged in this current logging season.
Ryton The rainforest site of significance known as ‘Grey Gum’ should have been covered by the agreement but is not. Its in the Morwell River catchment, immediately north of the Ryton Link and is not in the current handback, despite being significant. A tiny coupe of planted Shining Gum within this block, at the junction of Radburns Track and Grand Ridge Rd, prevents it being protected until 2028, when the timber is due to be harvested.
College Creek The adjacent catchment, to the north of College Creek, is Middle Creek. Middle Creek is a key ‘Link’ to Tarra Bulga National Park, of which only the middle catchment is proposed to be eventually protected under the Cores and Links Agreement. It is not proposed to be handed back for some years.