The fires of 2019/20 burnt huge areas of north eastern Victoria. The remaining unburnt forests are more important than ever. One of these areas lies in the headwaters of the Little Dargo River, just south of Mt Hotham. It is a pristine area, without roads, and containing mature forest, much of it dominated by Mountain Gums and Alpine Ash. It is an area of state forest that lies right next to the Alpine National Park.
The state government logging agency, VicForests, intends to log a total of 11 “coupes”, or sections, of mature forest in the upper Little Dargo River. These coupes are located in a series of clusters, where separate sections of bush will be harvested, creating a large zone of cleared land over time. Extensive roading networks will be needed to access the coupes.
There is a growing community campaign to oppose this destruction. In 2022, Friends of the Earth, in conjunction with the Treasure family, who have grazed cattle on the Dargo High Plains for generations, hosted walks to show people the headwaters of the catchment and surrounding area.
In January 2023 we hosted the first trips of the year, with a large group making it all the way to Fred’s Flat on the river. We carried in a plaque that commemorated the life of Fred Treasure, who died in a mustering accident. The plaque was placed on a rock outcrop on the river flat that is named after him.
Additionally, the Victorian Forest Alliance (VFA) Survey Team visited over the weekend to survey for rare Mountain Leafless Bossiaea (Bossiaea bracteosa). The bossiaea is a threatened plant which is protected from logging by a 200m exclusion zone. VFA surveyors found large populations across several coupes, confirming that these areas must be protected from logging. The forests are home to rare plants and animals like the spotted and alpine tree frogs, and masked owl.
The campaign to #SavetheLittleDargo continues to grow.
With a new environment minister, we have a great opportunity to gain protection for places like the Little Dargo.
There are two simple things you can do now to help:
Sign our petition to the minister, Ingrid Stitt, asking her to end native forest logging now, rather than in 2030, and
Join us outside Victorian parliament on the first sitting day for 2023 to remind the government that the community wants to see native forests protected now. 10am on Tuesday February 7.
For background information on why the Little Dargo needs protection, please check here.