VicForests is investigating the suitability of a coupe (Apu) in Warburton for harvest. As part of this process VicForests is consulting with the Warburton community and conducting surveys and studies of the area.
What activity is planned for Warburton?
Consultation with community is integral for VicForests’ planning process for any harvesting activity. VicForests continues to consult with the Warburton community to discuss the coupe and address concerns. This consultation is ongoing, and will be used in VicForests’ harvesting plans.
VicForests first released the coupe (Apu – coupe number 345-528-0001) for public consultation as part of its Timber Release Plan amendment in 2016. The coupe remained on the TRP as part of the latest amendment (2019).
In 2016, the consultative process included 20 submissions from individuals with questions about the coupe or harvesting in the area. These were replied to by VicForests, and VicForests is consulting further with the Warburton community in relation to planned harvesting, which will be guided by the latest variable retention practices.
An Open House event, planned for 8 Feb, was cancelled after feedback indicated an orderly meeting may not be possible. VicForests will work with local community representatives to reschedule this event.
Apu will not be clear felled
Variable retention harvesting is an alternative to traditional clearfell harvesting and will retain 10-plus trees per hectare on average, often in islands and patches, to promote uneven aged forest regeneration that best supports species and habitat development.
As part of VicForests’ planning for any harvesting operation, the company must first complete detailed surveys and consultation with the community. Input from the community plays an important part of VicForests’ planning process, and feedback is incorporated into VicForests’ harvesting plans.
Prior to harvest, a multi-layered planning process is undertaken to consider the management of the many environmental and social factors present in forest areas – including impacts on flora and fauna, water quality and visual amenity for the community.
This planning process includes various studies and surveys to assess environmental and social factors to ensure the area is appropriate for harvest.
Studies undertaken as part of the Warburton coupe planning process include:
A High Conservation Values (HCV) planning survey
Two Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) surveys
1. Leadbeaters Possum Camera Trap survey
2. Old Growth survey
Visual analysis survey
This coupe and the surrounding forest is currently rated as having an Extreme Fuel Hazard rating. Accordingly, VicForests must comply with Bushfire Moderation Zone (BMZ) restrictions. These require that no more than 5 per cent of the BMZ in that district can be harvested in any five-year period.
Following timber harvesting activity in this coupe, VicForests will work with Forest Fire Management Victoria to conduct controlled burning which will reduce the fuel hazard to below pre-harvest levels.
VicForests does not anticipate any impact on water supply from harvesting. As part of the operation, 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.
Further reports in regard to water and harvesting are:
A High Conservation Values planning survey has been conducted on the main harvest area to ensure that areas with conservation requirements, such as threatened species, are protected.
DELWP Forest Protection Survey Program Leadbeaters Possum Camera Trap survey and an Old Growth survey did not detect any threatened species in this area.
VicForests operates within the precautionary principle in its approach to sustainable forestry.
Before scheduling areas to harvest, high conservation values like threatened species and communities are identified and assessed. Once identified, VicForests applies all regulatory protections that have been designed to reduce impacts for those values, as outlined above.
A visual analysis study using Terrain and Lidar canopy data concluded that the harvested coupe will not be visible from the Warburton township.
It may be possible to see the general area of the coupe from some isolated areas in East Warburton and Big Pats Creek but the type of harvesting to be undertaken will reduce the visibility of the harvested area.
All coupes proposed for harvest are evaluated by a number of stakeholders including the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, neighbours and the broader community. VicForests will work extensively with key local stakeholders
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Further information on community information sessions will be regularly provided via this webpage.