Pat’s Corner (coupe number 345-511-004) is near Warburton in the Powelltown Forest District and managed by VicForests. The coupe is part of the Timber Release Plan (TRP) amendment in April 2016.
Consultation and engagement with the community and key stakeholders is integral to VicForests’ planning process for any harvesting activity.
In 2016, the consultation process attracted about 20 submissions from individuals and groups in the Warburton region. These were considered and responded to by VicForests.
In 2019, there was further local advertising, direct stakeholder emails to communities, an open house information day and online information.
VicForests has also undertaken extensive engagement with the Warburton community in 2020. This involved six meetings with groups of local stakeholders, including detailed briefings on a coupe then scheduled for harvest (see ‘Apu’).
This is part of VicForests’ ongoing consultation and collaboration with local communities.
Pat’s Corner coupe
VicForests intends to harvest only 10.7 ha of the 27.5 ha Pat’s Corner coupe.This approach protects habitat and other environmental features, including protecting waterways, by retaining two thirds (more than 60 per cent) of the gross coupe area.
Where possible, variable retention will be used within the coupe. This means a further 4–5 seed trees per ha, averaged across the harvest area, will be retained and, beyond this, other suitable habitat trees and recruitment trees (future habitat trees) will also be retained.
Environmental Regulation - Big Pat’s Creek
VicForests fulfils its environmental and sustainability responsibilities by adhering to, or exceeding, extensive Government regulations that control harvesting, including near waterways. We consult with Melbourne Water and our operations are overseen by the Office of the Conservation Regulator. VicForests must comply with the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014, the Management Standards and Procedures, and other regulations.
While Big Pat’s Creek is within the gross coupe boundaries, it is well outside of the area to be harvested. Two small tributaries mapped within gullies have been routinely verified on the ground and show slight deviations from the mapped course in the harvest area. On either side of the tributaries, VicForests has marked a 10 metre filter strip on the drainage line to the north and a 20 metre exclusion buffer on the temporary stream to the south, as required by regulation. The filter prevents nearby ground disturbance during harvesting and the buffer area excludes all harvesting.
Prior to harvest, a planning process is undertaken to consider the management of the many environmental and social factors present in forest areas. This covers impacts on flora and fauna, water quality and visual amenity for the community.
Desktop reviews, studies, field surveys for threatened species, and 3D modelling of visual impacts may be part of this process.
Two Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) surveys:
1. Spotlight call playback
2. Old Growth survey
This coupe and the surrounding forest is currently rated as having an Extreme Fuel Hazard rating. Accordingly, VicForests must comply with Landscape Management Zone (LMZ) prescriptions.
These require the overall fuel hazard rating for this coupe to be less than or equal to a Fuel Hazard rating of ‘high’ within 12 months of harvesting, which is less than the current rating.
Following timber harvesting activity in this coupe, VicForests will work with Forest Fire Management Victoria to conduct controlled burning. This will reduce the fuel hazard to below pre-harvest levels.
VicForests does not anticipate impact on water supply from harvesting in Pat’s Corner.
To protect waterways and soil integrity, regulations require that no more than 10% of the harvested area can be on slopes greater than 30 degrees. Further, mandatory stream buffers specified by the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 will be supplemented by extended habitat retention areas where harvesting is excluded.
During the initial planning stages Melbourne Water - the authority responsible for the area – was consulted about the harvesting of Pat’s Corner.
In the case of Pat’s Corner coupe, VicForests meets the requirements set out to prevent adverse impacts on neighbouring waterways.
Further reports on water and harvesting can be found here:
A High Conservation Values (HCV) planning survey has been conducted on the main harvest area to ensure that areas with conservation requirements, such as threatened species, are protected.
DELWP Spotlight Call Playback survey and an Old Growth survey did not detect any species requiring regulatory protection in the area of Pat’s Corner coupe.
DELWP is investigating an unconfirmed report of a Sooty Owl call. Habitat trees used by owls are already preserved and protected, so no further action is currently required. Foresters routinely monitor habitats in all harvesting areas.
VicForests continues to monitor coupes throughout the harvesting process and if a species of HCV is identified plans are adapted accordingly.
Where a harvesting operation may have a significant visual impact on a township or a significant landscape, VicForests will undertake a visual analysis study using Terrain and Lidar canopy data.
The location of Pat’s Corner coupe is sheltered from significant visual impacts and does not meet criteria for further analysis.
The haulage route from Pat’s Corner will go down Burns Road to Smythes Road to ensure the Big Pat’s Creek community and Warburton township are not impacted.