Claims a court injunction has stopped “illegal logging” in this forest coupe are untrue.
Firstly, Tiger coupe was allocated by VicForests to TAFE Gippsland for the training of Victoria’s essential service workers, firefighters and first responders in times of fires and storm damage affecting the community. It is not a coupe for commercial timber harvesting by VicForests.
Secondly, there has been no finding by the Supreme Court that this activity is “illegal”. There has only been a preliminary proceeding in this matter with no findings of the Court that justify this claim.
Third, no timber harvesting operations have taken place in the coupe.
Training activity impacted
Each year hundreds of staff from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP), State Emergency Services, Country Fire Authority, Victoria Police, Army and harvesting and haulage contractors learn critical skills, including how to remove large hazardous trees near roads and clear forest roads to allow access for firefighting.
They learn and practice these essential skills in coupes, such as Tiger, designated by VicForests for forestry training.
TAFE Gippsland’s Timber Training Unit, Forestec, is the only training organisation in Victoria that offers specialised courses in forestry skills including chainsaw crosscut, tree falling, machine assist tree falling, environmental care and Occupational Health and Safety.
In 2021, 78 per cent of trainees enrolled in TAFE’s crosscut course will be summer crew Project Firefighters (PFF) employed by DELWP for the 2021-22 fire season.
TAFE Gippsland’s Forestec campus also offers a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management and a Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management.
These courses also use training coupes for practical hands-on forestry skills training including biological surveys, spotlight surveys and plant identification, and environmental management.
Tiger (coupe number 801-511-0006) is located near Nowa Nowa in the Colquhoun State Forest in East Gippsland and is managed by VicForests.
During the planning process all coupes managed by VicForests 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.
Following the detection of Yellow-bellied Gliders in Tiger coupe, VicForests - in consultation with DELWP - developed and implemented a special management plan (SMP) for the protection of Yellow-bellied Gliders and a Special Protection Zone (SPZ) was applied for that will exclude any timber harvesting operations.
Although in Tiger coupe only Yellow-bellied Gliders met the prescription to trigger a SPZ reserve, other arboreal mammals and large forest owls will also benefit from the reservation of suitable habitat.
SPZ’s add to the existing conservation reserves in our forests.
VicForests fulfils its environmental and sustainability responsibilities by adhering to, or exceeding, extensive Government regulations that control harvesting to ensure the protection of threatened flora and fauna. We consult with appropriate authorities and our operations are overseen by the Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR).
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, old growth assessments and visual amenity for the community.
VicForests conducts desktop data reviews, field reconnaissance and extensive field surveys for threatened species as part of this process. Please refer to DELWP Forest Protection Survey Program (FPSP) for information regarding surveys.
Studies and surveys for Tiger undertaken by either VicForests or DELWP include:
Arboreal Spotlight and Owl Call Playback surveys
VicForests Old Growth Forest Identification Survey
Habitat Tree Survey
Coupe Habitat and Sign Survey
Apiary Zone Analysis
FPSP Old Growth Forest Identification Survey
High Conservation Values (HCV) planning surveys have been conducted 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.
To protect biodiversity values, protections and exclusions have been put in place, including for:
Glossy Black Cockatoos;
Giant Burrowing Frogs; and
Additionally, based on preharvest survey results, a VicForests’ SMP (as detailed above) was developed and implemented. This SMP was developed to manage values that were identified as requiring protection in accordance with the Planning Standards for Timber Harvesting operations in Victoria’s State Forests 2014 and the Code.