Over the past three years, Friends of the Earth (FoE) has been working on protecting significant areas of the Victorian high country that are at risk from logging. We have also been highlighting the need for the state government to act to the threats posed to these forests by climate change driven bush fires.
This is a summary of our current and recent work in the high country, and a list of ways to get involved in the campaigns.
Mountain forests to be protected from logging
In a significant move, the Victorian government announced in May 2023 that on January 1, 2024, all native forest logging on public land will end in the east of the state. This brings forward the planned logging shutdown from 2030.
This is great news for the mountain forests of the north east. In the final few months before the end of logging, we are keeping a close watch on the key areas identified below to ensure there is no last minute logging.
You can read our report on threats to the forests of the high country here.
Specific areas of concern
We have focused on these key areas because they are largely intact and have not experienced severe logging previously and sit within a broader protected landscape which will be damaged if logging is allowed.
Mt Wills area
Mt Wills is an 'island in the sky' - a small plateau which supports old growth snow gum woodlands, surrounded by lower valleys. It is connected to Victoria's highest mountain - Bogong (Warkwoolowler) by Long Spur. There are impressive, older alpine ash forests on Long Spur, below the Mt Wills summit, which are scheduled for logging. Dense, flammable regrowth from logging operations would pose a direct risk of intense fire to the uphill old forests of Mt Wills.
Public walk to visit the areas due to be logged (March 18, 2023). Details here.
Mt Stirling is a famous and popular spot for cross country skiing, walking, mountain bike riding, trail running and four wheel driving. It has up to 11 areas of forest scheduled to be logged. Logging will have dramatic impacts on recreation, as well as fragmenting the high elevation forests that circle the summit area.
What is at risk at Mt Stirling? Summary of proposed logging.
Report on FoE survey trip to Mt Stirling, NOV 2022. Available here.
Our short video on Mt Stirling (Nov 2022). Available here.
The Little Dargo
The Little Dargo is a special, un roaded headwater area that contains old forests of mountain gum and recovering alpine ash. Unlike much of the surrounding area, it has only been lightly burnt in recent decades. Logging is likely to yield mostly low value products like pulp. How can the destruction of a pristine catchment be allowed for pulp and pallets?
FoE guided walk to the Little Dargo, Jan 2023. Brief report here.
Radio news story on the Little Dargo and why it must be protected. May 2022.
A report on our visit to the Little Dargo to look at previous logging in the Jones Creek area. FEB 2022.
Fire and the Alps
Climate change driven fire poses an existential threat to the mountain forests of the Victorian high country. While there is a state government program intended to help Alpine Ash forests remain viable, there is no targeted program for the Snow Gum woodlands.
Read our report An Icon at Risk, which details the many threats to the Victorian high country. AUG 2021.
Report on our forum ‘Climate change and the Victorian Alps - preparing for the fires of the future’ held at Mt Hotham September 2022.
Read our story The ghost forests of the high country, published in the Patagonia Roaring Journals. September 2023.
Report on our citizen science fieldtrip to the Dargo High Plains to investigate localised loss of Snow Gum woodlands due to repeat fire. JAN 2022.
An introduction to the FoE snow gum citizen science project. NOV 2021.
More recent events at the top.
A visit to the Ghost Forests
Our next trip will be to visit the fire impacted snow gum woodlands near The Fainters, on the Bogong High Plains. Dates to be confirmed but likely to be early February, 2024.
Guided walk to the Little Dargo.
The next walk will happen over the Cup Weekend (November 4 - 7, 2023). The walk itself will happen on sunday November 5. You are invited to join us to camp on the saturday evening.
Snow gum citizen science fieldtrip.
Monday November 6, 2023. This is the monday of the cup weekend.
This will largely be a guided walk to visit some areas affected by recent fires to gain a sense of what recovery is happening. While it will be a series of brief walks, it will involve off track walking in and over fallen logs, etc.
Mobilising the outdoors community
Saturday 2nd September 2023, 2:00pm to 4:30pm, Upstairs at The General
Outdoors people can see the changes that are coming to the mountains and wild places we love. How can we act effectively to protect these places?
Come along and hear from a range of outdoor groups and to learn about how they are mobilising the outdoors community and achieving lasting change.
Happening as part of the Victorian backcountry festival.
Snow gum walk
A collaboration between Friends of the earth and Protect Our Winters.
On Saturday the 2nd of September, as part of the Victorian Backcountry Festival, Cam Walker from FoE will be leading a tour near Mt Hotham to share his knowledge of the snow gums.
You can find out more and rsvp here. This is a free event.
Guided walk to Mt Wills.
May 20, 2023.
Mountain roadtrip - March 2023
This will be a chance to explore some great places in the Victorian high country while also supporting efforts to protect native forests from logging. FoE has been focusing on three key areas in the Alps: Mt Stirling, the Little Dargo, and Mt Wills, near the state’s highest mountain (details can be found in our report here). This trip will focus on the Mt Wills area and also visit the upper Mitta Mitta (Big) River.
You can join the roadtrip for a day, or come along for the whole trip. Participants will need to be self sufficient in terms of vehicles, camping gear and food (we are happy to help co-ordinate ride sharing for those who are keen). We will need to put a limit of 20 on participants of the full trip in order to be able to fit into campsites and manage our impact. There is no fee for joining the trip.
FoE is planning a series of roadtrips this year, each in a different part of the state. Stay tuned for details of future trips.
See below for details on each public event that is happening as part of the road trip.
- TUESDAY 14: travel to Bright. Members meetup from 5.30 -7pm.
- THURSDAY 16: Mitta Mitta action on the river – highlighting the threat of logging in the headwaters of this important waterway. (Full details soon). Camp at Big River campsite
- SATURDAY 18: public day walk up Mt Wills with aerial footage of the area and banner on the summit. Walk to visit the proposed coupes. Details here.
Climate change and the Victorian Alps - preparing for the fires of the future
Report on our forum - which was held at Mt Hotham in September 2022.
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A new Friends of the Earth group is being established to work in the north east. To find out more, or get involved please check the facebook page for the group.