With news that logging could commence on Mt Stirling as soon as this week, Friends of the Earth (FoE) activists visited the mountain over the weekend of November 18 – 20. Assisted by Friends of Mt Stirling and the Victorian National Parks Association, we visited most of the planned coupes and carried out night time surveying for threatened animal species in a number of them.
What we found was a rich diversity of forests and ecosystems, from mid elevation mixed species forests, areas dominated by alpine ash, and in the higher area towards Mount Number 3, proposed coupes where older snow gums intermixed with alpine ash. While we did not spot either Greater Glider or Yellow-bellied Gliders (YBG), we found forests within the coupes with likely habitat for these species and an active YBG feed tree.
We will stay focused on gaining protection for these forests and we need your help.
Please take action
- Sign this letter to the Victorian Environment Minister, urging her to protect the Mt Stirling forests and other high conservation areas in the Victorian high country.
- Let your friends know – especially if they enjoy skiing, walking, camping or mountain bike riding in the high country. Some of these coupes will directly impact the Australian Alpine Epic Mountain Bike Trail, which is a huge drawcard, bringing thousands of people to Mt Buller and Stirling.
- Check this great new video on Mt Stirling and the threat of logging.
You can find out more about the threats posed by logging at Mt Stirling here.
Here’s what we saw
- Bus Loop – BenMan 400-501-1008
Around half of this area is Sub-Alpine woodland that contains Snow Gum trees as well as Alpine Ash. This area supports many of the threatened species referenced in the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (VBA). One of these species is the Royal Grevillea (Grevillea victoriae subsp. Victoriae) which is a rare flowering shrub that is endemic to New South Wales and montane ecosystems in Victoria. FoE surveyors found many examples of this Grevillea in the area of this coupe). In addition, this area is within 10 metres of an established and very popular mountain bike track on Razorback Spur.
Above: Bus coupe is the forest on the left side of the road.
Above and below: inside Bus Loop coupe
- Epic – BenMan 389-507-0002
This area of forest is upstream from known habitat of the Barred Galaxias (Galaxias Fuscus) which is a critically endangered freshwater fish. It is a mix of older and regrowth alpine ash. The planned logging will clear cut forest located directly on the famous Mt Buller “Epic Trail” which is used for mountain biking.
Above: a logging road would need to be cut through this snow gum woodland to reach the Epic coupe
- Cobbler View – BenMan 401-501-0002
- King Saddle West – BenMan 401-501-0004
This area of forest lies adjacent to a special protection area established to protect the endangered Alpine Stonefly (Thaumatoperla alpina). This coupe lies between two previously logged areas along the Mt. Stirling Alpine Resort Boundary. The planned logging would occur along the frequently visited Circuit Road on a site that is 500 m from a scenic picnic area with parking
Above: on the edge of the King Saddle West coupe
- Black Landing – BenMan 401-503-0001
This coupe contains many hollow bearing trees which provide habitat for owls such as the Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa tenebricosa) and the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua). This area is located on the northern border of the Mount Stirling Alpine Resort and along the scenic Circuit Road. The coupe extends down into mid elevation forests towards the upper King River.
Above and below: spotlighting in King Saddle East
- King Saddle East – BenMan 401-501-0003
This area of forest overlaps with the Mount Stirling Alpine Resort’s northern boundary by 2.5 hectares. The coupe lies adjacent to a special protection zone that aims to protect the endangered Alpine Stonefly (Thaumatoperla alpina) which has a confirmed sighting within 100 metres of the coupe. The call of the Southern Boobook Owl (Ninox novaeseelandiae) was also heard in this coupe.
- Motlock – BenMan 401-502-0002
There have been confirmed sightings of the Scooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa tenebricosa) within this coupe. Motlock has hollow bearing trees which provide habitat and shelter for this owl and other night gliders. It is also located on the northern border of the Mount Stirling Alpine Resort along the Circuit Road which lies adjacent to an Alpine Stonefly Special Protection Area.
FoE surveys found a Yellow-bellied Glider (YBG) feed tree just outside the coupe. The feed tree had both older and fresher incisions and it looks like it's currently being used by YBGs.
Above: in the Motlock coupe
- Harlequin - BenMan 386-505-0001
The Bindaree coupes
- Bindaree Corner - BenMan 386-503-0002
- Bindaree – BenMan 386-504-0001
- Bindaree Road North - BenMan 386-503-0007
This area is essential to tourism, water catchment, and provides habitat for endangered species. Bindaree Falls is a popular tourist destination along the Circuit Road. 10% of the water catchment for these falls lies within the bounds of the Bindaree coupe. It is also upstream from a studied and recorded spotted tree frog population. Bindaree is adjacent to special protection zones for the Alpine stonefly and is also a confirmed habitat for Greater Gliders. The hollow bearing trees in Bindaree could be home for other endangered nocturnal species however, there is a need for a nocturnal survey to confirm this. The lower coupes closer to the falls provide good Greater Glider habitat.
- Sweetcorn - BenMan 386-503-0005
We were not able to visit this coupe.
Above: our base for the weekend: King Saddle. If you would like to get involved in the campaign, please get in touch.