Objecting to Kalamazoo’s proposed Exploration Licence

Muckleford Forest Friend Group have decided to object to application for an Exploration Licence (EL) for the Muckleford Forest. We posted briefly on it on the Muckleford Forest website a few days ago.

Remnants of past mining in the Muckleford Forest

We are objecting because we are concerned about the potential adverse environmental, residential and economic impacts, and loss of amenity for residents.

Our objection may make no difference – but we wanted to make our views known at this early stage in the process and make sure that we are advised of the outcome and (assuming they get the EL) that we are consulted when they develop a Work Plan for exploration activities etc.

Our objection is linked on this page.

We would encourage others to object as well. You can write a short submission – a few sentences for example, or write something more detailed and attach it. Lodge your objection here – https://rram.force.com/ObjectionSubmission

And of course you can draw on or refer to our objection. The deadline for your objection is Friday May 17th (21 days after the advert – assuming you saw the advert in a local paper Tarrangower Times or the Age or Herald-Sun!). Here is a link to an article in the Maryborough Advertiser and to the Bendigo Advertiser as well.

Information on Exploration Licences is here – https://earthresources.vic.gov.au/community-and-land-use/understanding-exploration

We’ll update you via this website when we hear more.



Gold exploration across the Muckleford?

A gold exploration application has been lodged across a large area include the Muckleford Forest – and private land as well. The application has been approved according to the Kalamazoo web site. A bit hard to get the status clear via the government’s Earth Resources website – as you will see below it appears to be an ‘application’ but it appears from Kalamazoo website and media that it has been approved.


You can search mining tenements on this webpage – Mining Licences Near Me – and here is the image of the Kalamazoo application (Exploration Licence
EL006959) based on my address in Green Gully.

Should we worry? That’s a hard question! It depends on what they might plan to do within the Exploration Licence area: that is, their ‘work plan’. And whether locals read the classifieds in the local paper and or The Age or the Sun Herald.

Here is the web page about objecting to an Exploration Licence – website (http://earthresources.vic.gov.au/earth-resources-regulation/Contact-us/objections).

Seems like a watching brief – let us know if you notice anything – in the media or on the ground!



Health Checking our Key Biodiversity Areas: 12 April 2019

(shared from Connecting Country)

BirdLife International has identified areas of conservation importance around the world as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). This includes KBAs right here in our region – the Bendigo Box Ironbark area. Our KBAs were designated especially for their importance for two special birds, Diamond Firetail and Swift Parrot, and cover both public and private land.

Our three KBAs in the Mount Alexander Shire (VIC) are:

  • Clydesdale-Strangways.
  • Sandon-Strathlea.
  • Muckleford-Newstead – our Muckleford Forest Friends Group bird survey areas!

Birdlife’s Easter health check takes an annual snapshot of the threat and conservation actions of the areas that matter most to birds. BirdLife compares results between KBAs across Australia and around the globe. The results are extremely valuable, especially for identifying species decline and targeting conservation work. For more information on the KBA and the Easter health check process click here.

BirdLife is looking for local people to complete a 2019 Easter health check for each KBA. To assist, Connecting Country is running a workshop on Friday 12 April 2019 in Newstead.  We’ve invited Greg Turner from BirdLife Victoria to take us through the process for our part of the Bendigo Box Ironbark area. Geoff Nevill from the Muckleford Forest Friends Group will also talk about his group’s work in the region.

This annual check is all about assessing habitat and its threats. Anyone with an interest in landscape restoration is most welcome to come along and get involved, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birdwatcher.

Volunteers Eleanor and Jenny surveying the Muckleford KBA (photo by Connecting Country)

Please come along to this workshop to learn how you can participate in the Easter Health Check for our local KBAs:

  • Learn about the KBA’s in the Mount Alexander Shire.
  • Find out about KBA Easter Health Check – what it is and how to do it.
  • Meet other people working with KBAs.

Where: Newstead Community Centre Mechanics Hall, 9 Lyons St, Newstead VIC

When: Friday 12 April 2019: 9.00 to 11.30 am

Bookings: Please click here

This is a free event, with morning tea and refreshments provided.

If you have any questions, please contact Ivan Carter at Connecting Country on (03) 5472 1594 or ivan@connectingcountry.org.au.

This event is supported by funding from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.


Victorian logging regulation: not ‘effective nor respected’

A tree stump in East Gippsland forest after being logged

A tree stump in the Serpentine Creek area in East Gippsland, where VicForests is alleged to have logged rainforest buffer zones. Supplied: GEGO

On 15 March 2019 the Victorian government released a review of the regulation of logging in Victoria and the evidence is damning. The report’s authors were clearly struck by problems they found: “What is abundantly clear is that the system of policy, legislation and regulation is dated, complex, convoluted – indeed labyrinthine – and difficult to use, and DELWP is neither an effective or respected regulator.”

The evidence is in and it is damning. Logging in Victoria is not effectively regulated.

The review was initiated by Minister D’Ambrosio last year following the Department’s failed prosecution of VicForests for rainforest logging breaches. The review was undertaken over five weeks commencing mid-September 2018 and, although delivered to the government in late October 2018 just prior to the commencement of the caretaker period, it has taken until now for the report to be released.

The time taken for the review was too short to conduct a thorough independent evaluation of compliance and enforcement or to conduct adequate consultation – for comparison a review of compliance and enforcement at EPA Victoria in 2010 took six months – but the panel conducting the review have made a good start in grappling with the multiple failings within the department.
(summary from Environmental Justice Australia)

Read more in an article by journalist Lisa Cox in the Guardian.

A couple of background articles to the review: on the RFA renewal process and the Court case here

Muckleford Forest: Engaging with DELWP’s new program

The Victorian Government has initiated a major program to “modernise” the State’s Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) and the forest management system they accredit, through comprehensive engagement with Victorian communities. Read more here.

There are many views about the success or otherwise of the RFAs – but that’s for another post!

DELWP has identified a number of goals including: “Comprehensive engagement with Victorian communities about what they value in forests”, “A Vision for the future management of our forests” and “Refreshing forest management planning, including greater integration with fire planning”. All sounding worthy, but what will they mean in practice?

There is an online survey currently running to 31 March that enables you to mark on a map your favourite place and say why as well as answer a series of questions about forest management priorities and your vision. Please contribute!

Burning in the Muckleford killed trees and burnt out hollows

The other ways to get involved are:

  • Roundtables – there is a report on these Roundtables here – lots to read! was one held in our region (news to us if one was!).
  • Drop-ins – for the Loddon Mallee region the only one on their website is 23 Feb: Lancefield Farmers Market (perhaps there have been some elsewhere?)
  • Contact form to be kept in the DELWP information loop – contact form

Read more about what DELWP is doing in their Future of our Forests (RFA modernisation program) newsletter – here is the first one.

One of the processes that DELWP has underway is a state-wide program of data collection to inform renewal of the RFAs and improved management of Victoria’s forests. Interesting! One of the issues we are currently bemused about is that DELWP does not draw upon the Birdlife data for its own database … why not? We are following this up!

Please share this post and information. Hoping Muckleford friends can take the time to get involved – our forest really needs a positive vision and active conservation.

Talking Fire: Indigenous burning events

How we manage fire is an important conversation for rural and bush communities. What can we learn from how Aboriginal people used fire? Are those techniques applicable today in local landscapes that have changed a lot over the last 200 years?

Join the Newstead community for two events this November:

Returning cultural burning To Country

Thursday 29 November 7.30pm.
Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons Street, Newstead). All welcome, no booking required.

After more than 170 years, the first cultural burns in our area were undertaken in May 2017 – one near Maryborough and the other in the Whipstick – and now another seven more have been completed.

Come and hear Scott Falconer (Assistant Chief Fire Officer with FFMVic) share his experience in the United States and Canada where he explored the involvement of Indigenous people in land and fire management. Scott’s research was supported through The Lord Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal Churchill Fellowship. He was accompanied by Trent Nelson, Dja Dja Wurrung man and Parks Victoria Ranger Team Leader for part of the research trip. Read more here

Reviving Indigenous Burning Practices in a Changed Landscape: Community Search Conference

Friday 30 November 9am-5pm
Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons Street, Newstead).
All welcome. Free event but please book your place by Monday 26 November via Eventbrite.

Join expert panellists and local community to explore how we might combine Western and Indigenous fire practice and knowledge in our local landscapes.

At this one-day event we will discuss how we can connect Indigenous fire traditions with current approaches to fuel reduction and planned burns to shape new ways to protect our landscape and communities. This event is for everyone with an interest in this topic: community, government, academics, researchers. Read more here

For more information go to Talking Fire on Facebook or our website https://talkingfire.org/ or drop us a line at newsteadtalkingfire@gmail.com. You can also read about the 2016 Talking Fire event.

Talking Fire is a community initiative designed to create different kinds of community conversations about fire. Supported by the Mount Alexander Shire Council Community Grants Program.


Biodiversity and planned burns – DELWP Meeting – Thurs 18 Oct, Castlemaine

DELWP is holding a Joint Fuel Management Program meeting (what was called the FOP) in Castlemaine at the Ray Bradfield rooms on Thursday 18 October between 4:00 and 7:00 pm.  Invitations have been sent to various groups and individuals, so please feel free to attend this forum.

We are keen to have more discussion about the proposed Bruce’s Track burn in the Muckleford Forest. Hearing that the burn was about to happen this spring (not 2019 as scheduled), got us in action, sharing our concerns with DELWP about biodiversity impacts.

The Bruces Track planned burn is located in the bushfire moderation zone (BMZ) which has a fuel management objective of reducing bushfire speed and intensity with the focus on reducing impacts on life and property. The zoning scheme was developed as part of the former West Central Bushfire Risk Landscape and was subject of engagement including a meeting in Daylesford in 2016 that Muckleford Forest Friends and FOBIF were involved in. As a result the BMZ (then called NEW03) in the Bruces Track area was reduced in size.

That’s good news – but what about the mitigation measures for specific species – especially during spring breading and nesting? The ‘sudden’ outset of the burn was a serious worry. Based on our advocacy about known bird species active in the area, the DELWP biodiversity assessment staff have been asked to consider our advice and make recommendations on what DELWP should do reduce impacts. Their initial advice is to delay the burn until autumn, minimise canopy scorch and leave unburnt patches in the burn unit. The burn will now be  postponed until autumn 2019.

We have been asked to add our records to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (VBA) – which really highlights the poor state of knowledge that DELWP have about species present in the Muckleford Forest (and other areas too of course).  As readers would know from earlier posts, we have a series of 20 minute, 2 ha bird transects set up in the forest which we are monitoring quarterly and importing our data via BirdData.

Much of the data for the Bruce’s Track area has been collected through other forms of observation. Any volunteers out there who could help enter this data into VBA or BirdData?