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SKAT Updates + 'The Koalas' Documentary Screening in Melbourne in June

A new documentary film, The Koalas, will be showing in Melbourne on Saturday June 22, 4pm Thornbury Picture House, 802 High Street, Thornbury). The film produced by Georgia Wallace-Crabbe and Gregory Miller highlights the plight of koalas in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Friends of the Earth was interviewed for the documentary in 2023 in Morwell National Park. You can order tickets here.


The debut of the film  is Sunday 16th June at the Castlemaine Film Festival (Theatre Royal), book your tickets via the Castlemaine Film Festival.

You can order tickets for all shows here

It will feature in Melbourne, Saturday June 22, 4pm Thornbury Picture House, 802 High Street, Thornbury). 

The film will also be screening at Leongatha June 20 (Stadium 4 Cinema 14-18 Smith Street Leongatha) and Ballarat June 30 (Venue yet to be announced).

Mullungdung State Forest Update
In February 2024, Friends of the Earth announced the concept of an 18,000ha reserve at Mullungdung State Forest to ensure the long term survival of koalas in the region.  A letter was sent from Friends of the Earth to Minister Steve Dimopoulos on the 26th of March outlining the Mullungdung Park proposal. A reply was sent from Erin Letovsky (Acting Executive Director, Biodiversity Division DEECA) on the 29th of April.
As predicted, the reply letter more or less says that the Victorian Government has developed the Victorian Koala Management Strategy and has committed $3 million to support and deliver actions under the strategy, including a monitoring program in partnership with Deakin University, Federation University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland. The reply letter also states that the State Government has invested $640,000 over two years for fox control at Mullungdung. The reply letter finishes off with a statement that because the Government has ended native forest logging, that this is the largest expansion of to the public forests reserve system in the states history.
Of concern with the reply letter is that much of Mullungdung is not reserved at all, it has to be protected by Parliament to ensure that its status is upgraded to reserve status. Until this occurs it will remain as native forest with potential logging to return if a Liberal Government is elected or there is a change of heart from a future Labor Government. It also appears that the Government will be unlikely to make any decisions about the Strzelecki koala until the results of the monitoring program are completed and published. This should occur some time in 2025.

Mullungdung Postcards

FoE is in the process of producing some postcards regarding Mullungdung that we will be sending off the Minister Dimopoulos over the next few weeks. The postcards will be asking the Minister not to forget about the plight of the Strzelecki koala and the need to reserve Mullungdung to ensure that the koala population there is safeguarded into the future. Contact [email protected] if you can distribute and post some of these cards over the next couple of months.

Koalas Gormandale

In May, FoE did another visit to the cleared Hancock Victorian Plantations bluegum plantation at Gormandale. Almost all of the 500ha of bluegums has been cleared. A sole koala was spotted in a Swamp Gum in a riparian buffer within the plantation and some scats were also found in the last remaining bluegums that have not been cleared. FoE estimates that the plantation could have had a koala population of 50. Only a couple now remain. Coppicing bluegums have also been sprayed with herbicide in preparation of conversion of the area to radiata pine plantations. Will surviving koalas eat these?  Image of plantation below.

Olsens Road, Morwell River Catchment

SKAT has also recently visited the Morwell River catchment near Olsens Road and walked some recently logged hardwood sites that are in the process of being converted to pine plantations. In a couple of the gullies critically endangered Slender Tree Ferns were found. These ferns will be at great risk due to both the recent logging and increased exposure to wind. Use of highly mobile herbicides such as Hexazinone may also be a problem for surviving vegetation. Also of note was a complete lack of Preferred Koala Feed Trees.

Brataualung Forest Park

FoE has also written to DECCA to get an update on the removal of old pine trees on Old Whitelaws Track which we were alerted to in August 2023. These pines have stalled the hand back of a couple of thousand hectares of land to be added to the Brataualung Forest Park and need to be removed so they do not seed wildings into the Park. FoE has also recently found coppicing Shining Gums inside a newly planted out area of the Brataualung Forest Park. Hundreds are popping up in areas that have recently been logged and replanted. These will also have to be removed before these areas are handed back as reserve. Shining Gums are not indigenous to the Strzelecki Ranges.

Delburn Tree Removal on Strzelecki Highway

A recent visit to the Strzelecki's also revealed that hundreds of eucalpyts, including Mountain Grey Gums will be removed by VicRoads for the widening of the Strzelecki Highway to facilitate an extra passing lane at Delburn. All trees on the left of the marker tape (above image) will be removed. Some locals have implied that these trees will be removed as part of the Delburn Wind Farm project, however the tree removal is a completely seperate issue and is a sad set back in an area which recently saw hundreds of trees lost when a freak storm hit Mirboo North.

Also on a sad note, all funding for wages has now been exhausted and SKAT will be doing less work on this issue as all work is now voluntary. If you feel like giving SKAT a tax deductible donation every cent helps.

For more information contact: [email protected]

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