On Wild Koala Day, VicForests is taking the opportunity to remind Victorians of the care it takes for the environment and its wildlife when undertaking harvesting operations.
As leaders in sustainable forest management, VicForests’ activities are informed by the latest scientific research and guided by best practice, including Conservation Advice from the Australian Government.
The Australian Government advice says that koala populations in Victoria are currently high in Victoria and not considered endangered, which is in contrast to Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory populations.
Protecting precious wildlife in native forests is central to everything VicForests does. All coupes are comprehensively assessed to ensure all requirements under Victoria’s strict environmental regulatory system are met.
VicForests no longer harvests in the Strathbogies, as it is an Immediate Protection Area.
During operations in coupes where koalas have been identified, VicForests runs daily monitoring to check for any evidence of koalas. VicForests uses binoculars, listens for koala calls and checks for other signs, such as droppings (called scats) and other evidence, such as scratched trees. If koalas are present, VicForests will cease operations in the area until koalas move away.
Also, before any harvesting, VicForests conducts extensive flora, fauna and habitat surveys when risk assessments indicate a likelihood of presence for particular species. This determines what is needed to protect important environmental and cultural values, including retaining hollow-bearing trees to protect species that live and dwell within them.
Thorough preparation is undertaken prior to harvesting and VicForests puts 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 takes seriously its responsibility of sustainably harvesting coupes within state forests for today and future generations.
There are about 8 million hectares of forest in Victoria, and 94 per cent of Victoria’s native forests are in protected areas that cannot be harvested or are unsuitable. Of this amount, VicForests has access to 367,000 hectares and only harvests 3000 hectares annually, or about 0.04% of all forested areas.