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More High Country Logging - Mt Stirling

1.pngMt Stirling is a well known and much loved mountain and cross country ski resort in the mountains of Victoria.

A considerable number of areas of forest on and around the mountain are due to be logged soon (November 2022 onwards). We understand that this logging could begin as soon as November 21.

Logging will have significant impacts on tourism (a number of the areas will be cut along the popular Circuit Road), will further fragment the important alpine ash forests on the mountain, and threaten the viability of older alpine ash and snow gum forests up slope due to the highly flammable nature of logging regrowth.

The map below shows where the coupes will be located.

The coupes were approved in the 2021 Timber Release Plan and we understand that logging will commence very soon. The coupes include:

  • Epic – BenMan 389-507-0002
  • Bus Loop – BenMan 400-501-1008
  • Cobbler View – BenMan 401-501-0002
  • King Saddle West – BenMan 401-501-0004
  • Black Landing – BenMan 401-503-0001
  • King Saddle East – BenMan 401-501-0003
  • Motlock – BenMan 401-402-0002
  • BenMan 386-505-0001
  • BenMan 386-503-0002
  • Bindaree – BenMan 386-504-0001
  • Unknown coupe, between Bindaree and BenMan 386-505-0001
  • BenMan 386-503-0005

See below for details on the ecological values of the coupes.

mt_Stirling_coupes.jpg

Vic Forests will be conducting timber harvesting at eleven coupe sites around the boundary of the Mount Stirling resort, beginning from November 2022 through to April 2023. Timber harvesting operations will be occurring within the Mansfield State Forest and no harvesting will be occurring within the Mount Stirling resort.

Large sections of the Alpine Ash forests have already been logged. These forests – if they regrow – will be highly flammable for decades to come, and threaten the older ash forests that exist higher on the mountain and within the Mt Stirling resort area. Significant sections of Mt Stirling have been burnt in wildfire in recent decades, but valuable older sections of alpine ash and snow gum forest remain.  Fires burn hotter as they run uphill and could kill the precious remaining intact forests on higher elevation slopes and around the summit.

Apart from logging along extensive sections of the Circuit Road, concerns have been expressed about the Bindaree coupe, which is upstream of the very popular Bindaree Falls. It is not clear how VicForests could justify logging above this waterfall.

Up to twenty log trucks per day will be using the Circuit Road to move logs (with limited loads on the weekend) from coupes via both King Saddle and Howqua Gap, through Telephone Box Junction and out via the Mount Stirling Road. The combination of logging trucks and 4WD passenger vehicles must be a major concern for all the authorities with responsibilities in the area, including VicForests. It is not yet clear how this will be managed.

Take action

1/ A simple and effective thing to do is to send a quick email to The Hon Lily D’Ambroisio, the minister for the environment, asking her to protect Mt Stirling by stopping logging in all the coupes around the mountain (you could include the coupe numbers from the story above). See below for possible text to send.

[email protected]

2/ sign this letter to the minister urging her to intervene and protect key areas in the Victorian high country from logging.

 

DRAFT EMAIL to send to the minister

The Hon Lily D'Ambrosio,

Minister for the Environment

 

Dear Minister

I am appalled to hear that logging in up to 15 coupes is expected to start in and around Mt Stirling in coming months.

This will have significant impacts on tourism (a number of the areas will be cut along the popular Circuit Road), will further fragment the important alpine ash forests on the mountain, and threaten the viability of older alpine ash and snow gum forests up slope due to the highly flammable nature of logging regrowth.

The coupes are:

  • Epic – BenMan 389-507-0002
  • Bus Loop – BenMan 400-501-1008
  • Cobbler View – BenMan 401-501-0002
  • King Saddle West – BenMan 401-501-0004
  • Black Landing – BenMan 401-503-0001
  • King Saddle East – BenMan 401-501-0003
  • Motlock – BenMan 401-402-0002
  • BenMan 386-505-0001
  • BenMan 386-503-0002
  • Bindaree – BenMan 386-504-0001
  • Unknown coupe, between Bindaree and BenMan 386-505-0001
  • BenMan 386-503-0005

I urge you to act immediately to halt logging in these areas

 

Specific details on the Mt Stirling coupes

Epic – BenMan 389-507-0002

This area of forest is upstream from streams containing the Barred Galaxias (Galaxias Fuscus) which is a critically endangered freshwater fish. The planned logging will clear cut forest located directly on the frequently visited “Epic Trail” which is used for mountain biking.

Bus Loop – BenMan 400-501-1008

Around half of this forested area is projected to be Sub-Alpine woodland that contains Snow Gum trees as well as Eucalypt trees. 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 Whales and montane ecosystems in Victoria. In adion this area is within 10 meters of an established mountain bike track on Razorback Spur.

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.

Black Landing – BenMan 401-503-0001

This coupe contains 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.

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 meters of the coupe.

Motlock – BenMan 401-402-0002

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.

The Bindaree coupes

BenMan 386-505-0001

BenMan 386-503-0002

Bindaree – BenMan 386-504-0001

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 coup. 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 great 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. 

 

Thanks to Charles Street from Friends of Mt Stirling and Gerard McPhee for information used in this story.

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