Toolangi State Forest

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Toolangi State Forest
Toolangi

20124-01-04 Toolangi tree house 600 2810 1 2 (Soft 4).jpg

Toolangi State Forest, Yea Link Track
Geography
Location Central Highlands (Victoria), Australia
Coordinates 37°32′15″S145°30′44″E / 37.53750°S 145.51222°E / -37.53750; 145.51222
Elevation 700 to 100m
Governing body Department of Environment and Primary Industries (Victoria)
Ecology
Indicator plants Eucalyptus regnans
Fauna Leadbeater's possum
Australia Victoria relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Toolangi State Forest
Blue pog.svg
Melbourne
Blue pog.svg
Canberra
Yea River along Yea Link Road track near Little Red Toolangi Treehouse 20124-01-04 Toolangi tree house 600 2828 29 30 (Adjusted).jpg
Yea River along Yea Link Road track near Little Red Toolangi Treehouse
Forest along Yea Link Road track near Little Red Toolangi Treehouse 20124-01-04 Toolangi tree house 600 2855 6 7 (Adjusted).jpg
Forest along Yea Link Road track near Little Red Toolangi Treehouse
Leadbeater's possum Leadbeater's Possum 02 Pengo.jpg
Leadbeater's possum

The Toolangi State Forest region in southern Australia extends from Mount Monda in the south up to Murrindindi in the north and includes the township of Toolangi. The forest is mainly Eucalypt forest that has regrown from the 1939 Victoria Bushfires.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Murrindindi, Victoria Victoria, Australia

Murrindindi is a locality along the valley of the Murrindindi River in Victoria, in eastern Australia in the Murrindindi local government area. The nearest town is Yea.

Toolangi, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Toolangi is a rural township in Victoria, Australia. At the 2011 census, Toolangi and the surrounding area had a population of 289. It is situated on the edge of the Toolangi State Forest.

Contents

Large sections of the forest were also burnt in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, although there are some pockets of old-growth forest that have not been logged or seriously burnt.

Black Saturday bushfires series of bushfires in Australia around 7 February 2009

The Black Saturday bushfires were a series of bushfires that ignited or were burning across the Australian state of Victoria on and around Saturday, 7 February 2009 and were among Australia's all-time worst bushfire disasters. The fires occurred during extreme bushfire-weather conditions and resulted in Australia's highest ever loss of life from a bushfire; there were 173 direct identified fatalities, This figure was later increased to 180 fatalities after several people succumbed to their injuries. Many were left homeless as a result.

Old-growth forest A forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance

An old-growth forest — also termed primary forest or late seral forest — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community. Old-growth features include diverse tree-related structures that provide diverse wildlife habitat that increases the biodiversity of the forested ecosystem. The concept of diverse tree structure includes multi-layered canopies and canopy gaps, greatly varying tree heights and diameters, and diverse tree species and classes and sizes of woody debris.

Notably, the forest provides habitat for the threatened Leadbeater's possum. [1]

Leadbeaters possum species of mammal

The Leadbeater's possum is a critically endangered possum largely restricted to small pockets of alpine ash, mountain ash, and snow gum forests in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, north-east of Melbourne. It is primitive, relict, and non-gliding, and, as the only species in the petaurid genus Gymnobelideus, represents an ancestral form. Formerly, Leadbeater's possums were moderately common within the very small areas they inhabited; their requirement for year-round food supplies and tree-holes to take refuge in during the day restricts them to mixed-age wet sclerophyll forest with a dense mid-story of Acacia. The species was named in 1867 after John Leadbeater, the then taxidermist at the Museum Victoria. They also go by the common name of fairy possum. On 2 March 1971, the State of Victoria made the Leadbeater's possum its faunal emblem.

Kalatha Giant tree

Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler opening the Kalatha walk on National Tree Day, July 28, 2013, Sylvia Creek Rd, Toolangi, Victorian Central Highlands Mark Butler launches Kalatha giant tree walk.JPG
Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler opening the Kalatha walk on National Tree Day, July 28, 2013, Sylvia Creek Rd, Toolangi, Victorian Central Highlands

After the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, the Toolangi and Castella community proposed to construct a walk to the Kalatha Giant tree located at Kalatha Creek in the Toolangi State Forest. The Kalatha Giant Tree Walk Forest project was funded by the Victorian Bushfires Appeal Fund and was declared open by the federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Mark Butler, on 28 July, National Tree Day. [2] [3]

Mark Butler Australian politician

Mark Christopher Butler is an Australian politician and a member of the Australian Labor Party, representing the electoral division of Port Adelaide in the Commonwealth Parliament since 2007.

The Kalatha Giant, a mountain ash ( Eucalyptus regnans ), has striking buttressing and is the seventh largest tree in Victoria with a volume of 200 cubic metres, a girth of 13.85 metres and is 65.5 metres tall. [4]

<i>Eucalyptus regnans</i> species of plant

Eucalyptus regnans, known variously as mountain ash, swamp gum, or stringy gum, is a species of Eucalyptus native to Tasmania and the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia. It is the tallest flowering plant and one of the tallest trees in the world, second only to the coast redwood of North America. A straight-trunked tree with smooth grey bark, but with a stocking of rough brown bark from 5 to 20 metres above the ground, it regularly grows to 85 metres (280 ft), with the tallest living specimen, the Centurion in Tasmania, standing 100.5 metres tall. White flowers appear in autumn. Victorian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller described the species in 1871.

Recreation

The Toolangi State Forest is popular for a variety of recreation uses due to its close proximity to Melbourne and its natural attributes. Recreation activities include bushwalking, birdwatching, mountain biking, trail bike riding and four wheel driving.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 4.9 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Walking tracks

There are a number of walking tracks in the Toolangi State Forest [5] including:

Tanglefoot Walking tracks

These are a 20 km loop walking route that may be undertaken as a single long walk, or as sections. Main access points with car parking are the Tanglefoot Car Park (Sylvia Creek Rd), the Wirrawilla Rainforest Reserve (Sylvia Creek Rd), and Mt St Leonard (Monda Rd). The route follows the Myrtle Gully Track, Quarry Rd, and the new Tanglefoot Track. The Mr Tanglefoot Boardwalk was opened in March 2008 and has a covered picnic area, seats and drinking water.

  • Tanglefoot Walking Track Walk 1 - Mt. Tanglefoot Boardwalk. Depart from Myrtle Creek car park and follow signed Myrtle Creek Tk to junction, then proceed downhill along the Tanglefoot Track, reaching the newly constructed Boardwalk and return. Excellent rainforest, Mountain Ash timber, fern gullies. (4 km, 1 hr, March 2008)
  • Tanglefoot Walking Track Walk 2 - Myrtle Gully Walk. Depart from Wirrawilla Rainforest car park and follow signed Myrtle Gully Walk. Excellent rainforest, Mountain Ash timber, fern gullies. T (6 km, 1.5 hrs, March 2008).
  • Tanglefoot Walking Track Walk 3 - Southern Sector. Follow Monda Rd, passing Mt St Leonard gate, to open space at entrance to signed track. Descend to boardwalk and return. Forest environment, footbridges, fern gullies, birds. (6 km, 1.5 hrs, April 2008).
  • Tanglefoot Walking Track Walk 4: Tanglefoot Walking Track - Northern Link. Depart Mt Tanglefoot picnic ground and follow signed Tanglefoot Walking Track to Myrtle Ck car park and return. (3 km, 1 hr, February 2008).

Rare and threatened species

The following plant species found in Central Highlands Forests, including the Toolangi State Forest, are listed under either the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and/or the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999: [6]

The following animal species found in Central Highlands Forests, including the Toolangi State Forest, are listed in the Central Highlands Forest Management Plan 1998: [7]

Logging

Logging in Toolangi State Forest along Blowhard Track. Taken 4 Jan 2014. 20124-01-04 Toolangi tree house 600 2884 5 6 (enhanced).jpg
Logging in Toolangi State Forest along Blowhard Track. Taken 4 Jan 2014.

Logging within the Toolangi State Forest is sanctioned by the Victorian government and is managed by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (Victoria) and VicForests. There is strong local opposition to this logging due to the destruction of small remaining areas of intact forests that provide habitat for the threatened Leadbeater's possum. [8] [9] [10] [11]

The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse in the Toolangi State Forest, Victoria, Australia 20124-01-04 Toolangi tree house 600 2761 2 3 (soft 4).jpg
The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse in the Toolangi State Forest, Victoria, Australia

On 8 June 2011 Councillors of the Yarra Ranges Shire voted to write to politicians and call for an immediate halt to logging and future logging on the Bicentennial Trail and Mt St Leonard. [12]

Save Sylvia Creek Supreme Court Case

Following a community led blockade on Sylvia Creek Road, Toolangi State Forest in July to August 2011, [13] MyEnvironment Inc, a local environment group, obtained an injunction in the Supreme Court, preventing logging in the subject coupes pending resolution of the allegation of unlawful logging. The legal case proceeded on the basis that the logging of the three coupes:

In late January 2012 MyEnvironment Inc. received an open offer to limit the area logged in the three subject coupes if the action was discontinued. The action proceeded. [14]

Result of court case

Justice Osborn accepted VicForests interpretation that the primary instrument they are required to follow in logging is the Prescription in the Central Highlands Forest Management Plan that includes Leadbeater’s Possum Zone 1A Habitat (living mature and senescing trees) in the Special Protection Zone. He did not agree with VicForests that the trees must be both mature and senescing but preferred the interpretation that both living mature and living senescing trees would be counted. He defined mature as more than 120 years old.

He also found the Action Statement under the FFG Act does not independently impose obligations on VicForests.

On this basis, Justice Osborn found that:

  • Logging conducted in the Gun Barrel logging coupe prior to the injunction had not been unlawful, in that no Zone 1A (as now defined) had been logged.
  • There is no Zone 1A (as now defined) in Gun Barrel and that the logging now proposed will not be unlawful.
  • Planning for Freddo and South Col coupes has not progressed to a point where it can be said that what is intended to be done would be unlawful; we don’t yet know what is intended.
  • VicForests is required to comply with the precautionary principle when conducting operations in the Toolangi coupes.

Justice Osborne made some further comments in the judgment:

  • He described VicForests’ case in regard to the economic and social impacts of the grant of an injunction with respect to the consequences of restraining logging at Gun Barrel as "less than compelling." (para. 337)
  • He accepted that there is a strong case for the overall strategic review of the current reserve/exclusion zone system as a result of the 2009 fires. (para. 299)

VicForests made a commitment to exclude all Zone 1A in the three coupes from logging, to log Gun Barrel by the VRH system and not to conduct a regeneration burn. These two concessions greatly reduced the environmental damage done by the logging.

Costs were awarded against My Environment, but not on the higher scale (indemnity).

Calls for Great Forest National Park

In August 2013 Professor David Lindenmayer called for a new "Great Forest National Park" in the mountain forests east of Melbourne from Kinglake through to the Baw Baws, and north-east up to Eildon to protect them from logging. [15] [16]

"The last 30 years of work has shown that logging significantly degrades habitats for Leadbeater's possum and makes areas of forest unsuitable for 150 to 200 years. Logging has reduced the amount of old growth forest to less than 1 per cent of the forest cover."
"Now that's far worse than anything you would see in Tasmania, and so really what we've seen is a system that's at a state of collapse, possum populations in a state of collapse, and the industry itself is in a state of collapse."

The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse

A tree sit protest in The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse commenced in the Toolangi State Forest during November 2013. Hannah Patchett, moved into The Little Red Toolangi Treehouse of 20 November, motivated by the recommendation of Prof. David Lindenmayer, who called for an end to logging in the area by the end of December 2013 to provide Leadbeater's possum with a chance at avoiding extinction. [17] Hannah pledged to remain in the 14-square-metre home until the Victorian state government announces plans for protecting the endangered possum. Hannah moved out for personal reasons and was replaced by Beee Mallia, another young conservationist.

Beee has endured all climatic variations since 1 December 2013 and is sacrificing creature comforts in an act of Non-Violent Direct Action to bring attention to the need to protect this unique and globally significant forest. The Toolangi treehouse is also currently functioning as a point of engagement for the broader public. [18]

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References

  1. Sending Leadbeater’s Possum down the road to extinction, Professor David Lindenmayer, The Conversation, 14 December 2012
  2. Leadbeater's Possum, Victoria's endangered Faunal Emblem
  3. Dig in for tree planting, Mountain Views Mail
  4. Landmark Trees
  5. Toolangi State Forest, Guide to short Walks in Victoria
  6. Central Highlands Comprehensive Regional Assessment Report, June 1997
  7. Central Highlands Forest Management Plan 1998, Department of Natural Resources and Environment
  8. Forests agency sued for logging, The Age, 19 March 2012
  9. Knitting nannas in court over purler of a protest against logging at Mount St Leonard, The Age, 1 December 2013
  10. Federal Govt suggests Victoria's animal emblem is critically endangered, The World Today, 27 May 2013
  11. Loggers, activists clash over forest, The Age, 17 August 2011
  12. Council calls for stop to native logging in Yarra Ranges Archived 11 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine . Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader, 28 June 2010
  13. Silvia Creek forest, Greenlivingpedia
  14. Save Sylvia Supreme Court Case, MyEnvironment Inc
  15. New national park proposal to save the Leadbeater's possum, PM, 13 August 2013
  16. Park Plan, David Lindenmayer, Great Forest National Park
  17. Leadbeater's possum faces 'managed extinction' without action, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 2012
  18. Protester occupies forest treehouse to protect Leadbeater's possum, The Age, 11 November 2013

Coordinates: 37°32′15″S145°30′44″E / 37.53750°S 145.51222°E / -37.53750; 145.51222