Sturt (coupe number 445-501-0003) is located near Alberton West in the Central Gippsland Forest Management Area and managed by VicForests. The coupe was first approved for inclusion on the Timber Release Plan (TRP) in October 2016 and has remained on the TRP.
Consultation and engagement with the community and key stakeholders is integral to VicForests’ planning process for any harvesting activity.
Since the 2016 TRP there has been multiple TRP public consultations. The coupe Sturt has attracted no submissions from individuals or community groups in the Alberton West region. Other key organisations included in this process were Wellington Shire, Department of Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC).
VicForests intends to harvest only 8.6 hectares of the 18.3 hectares of Sturt coupe. This approach protects habitat and other environmental features, including protecting waterways.
In Sturt, 40 per cent of the coupe will remain completely untouched and the rest of the coupe will be harvested using a Thinning system, meaning approximately 76 per cent of the trees in the coupe will be retained.
During the planning process all coupes in the Alberton West State Forest are comprehensively surveyed to ensure they meet all timber harvesting and biodiversity requirements under Victoria’s strict environmental regulatory system. Thorough preparation is undertaken prior to harvesting, and we put special protections in place for priority habitat and species of concern if found in coupes. Such protection measures comply with, and often exceed, regulatory prescriptions.
VicForests fulfils its environmental and sustainability responsibilities by adhering to, or exceeding, extensive Government regulations that control harvesting, including near waterways. We consult with water authorities and our operations are overseen by the Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR) and its strict regulatory guidelines to ensure the protection of threatened flora and fauna.
Prior to harvest, a planning process is undertaken to consider the management of the many environmental and social factors present in forest areas. Extensive field reconnaissance has been completed by VicForests. This covers impacts on flora and fauna, water quality, old growth assessments and visual amenity for the community.
Desktop data reviews, studies, and extensive field surveys for threatened species were part of this process. Please refer to DELWP Forest Protection Survey Program (FPSP) for information regarding surveys.
Studies and surveys for Sturt undertaken by either VicForests or DELWP include:
Arboreal Spotlight and Owl Call Playback surveys
Old Growth Forest Identification Survey
Habitat Tree Survey
Targeted Biodiversity Flora & Fauna site inspection for Strzelecki Gum & Powerful Owl roosting trees
Arboreal Spotlight Survey
High Conservation Values (HCV) planning surveys have been conducted on the main harvest area to ensure that areas with conservation requirements, such as threatened species, are appropriately managed.
VicForests monitors coupes throughout the harvesting process and if a new HCV is identified plans are adapted accordingly.
Protections/Exclusions put in place include:
Greater Glider - Greater than 40% of the coupe basal area will be retained in line with the Southern Greater Glider adaptive management prescriptions prioritising live, hollow bearing trees.
Cobra Greenhood Orchid – Harvesting exclusions have been established around high density populations, medium density populations and individual plants.
Koala - VicForests Koala management instruction is to be implemented.
Lace Monitor - Hollow bearing trees will be prioritised for retention across the coupe and hollow logs on the ground.
Powerful Owl - Hollow bearing trees will be prioritised for retention across the coupe.
Additionally, based on the preharvest survey results from DELWP and VicForests, a VicForests Special Management Plan (VFSMP) has been completed.
This VFSMP has been developed to manage values that have been identified as requiring protection in accordance with the Planning Standards for Timber Harvesting operations in Victoria’s State Forests 2014 and the Code.
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 LiDAR terrain and canopy tree height data.
A minimum 20m buffer has been applied to all adjacent private property and road lines to minimise the visual impact of planned operations.
In Sturt coupe, a regeneration burn will not conducted due to the thinning system that has already retained around 50 per cent of trees during harvesting. VicForests carefully plans and manages its harvesting operations to comply with the MSPs.
VicForests does not anticipate impact on water supply from harvesting in Sturt.
Sturt coupe has an average of 5 degrees slope and complies with the Code. Where required a 10-metre filter and a 20-metre buffer has been applied.
In the case of Sturt coupe, VicForests exceeds the requirements set out to prevent adverse impacts on neighbouring waterways.
The haulage route for Sturt will go from the coupe down Ridge Road and Hedley Range Road to Tap Tap Road.
Coupe plans and maps
VicForests posts coupe plans and maps on its website as soon as practicable. The coupe plans and maps will remain online until harvesting is complete.