Category Archives: Biodiversity

Biodiversity

Birds in the Muckleford Forest

We’ve just started ten bird survey transects in the Muckleford Forest!

There is a new page on our website with all the details. Let us know if you want to join in! We’ll report on results via the website and posts.

Good ‘swiftie’ news from Tassie too – Birdlife Australia is reporting that the Tasmanian Upper House has voted down the proposal to allow logging in 356,000 hectares of forests including 12,000 ha of Critically Endangered Swift Parrot habitat.

 

 

 

Maldon, Newstead and places in between – Talking Fire

bushwalk-dry-diggings-2015-035

Join us in a conversation to better understand fire in our landscape at the Newstead Community Centre over the weekend of 12/13 November.

‘Talking Fire’ will discuss what fire means for our local communities and the environment. The aim is to bring local expertise and knowledge together with outside experts in the field of fire behaviour and fire ecology, so that the community can talk about and better understand, plan, and live with fire.

Some of the questions driving our conversation are:

  • What is the history of fire in our area?
  • How have the landscape, community & fire policies changed?
  • How can we protect what we value?
  • How can we respond to fire risk, now & in the future?

You may have other questions, ideas or solutions.

We are also seeking local knowledge and stories. Do you have a “fire experience”, direct or indirect, to share? As a part of the weekend Gordon Dowell will be recording the stories and histories of locals. The Newstead CFA Auxiliary are amongst those we will be keen to hear from.

We hope that from the weekend our local landscape can be seen anew, through the eyes of scientists, fire experts and long lived locals alike, and through a wider, “landscape lens”, not just from a household or property viewpoint.

Whether you live in Newstead or Maldon town, or the bush and farmland surrounds, we invite you along to ‘talk fire’. Come to any or all sessions. The event is free, but we need bookings to help our caterers, the Newstead Preschool and Mens’ Shed, provide enough for all.

Thanks to Mount Alexander Shire, Maldon & District Community Bank and Norman Wettenhall Foundation for supporting the event. Many more supporters are contributing in non-financial ways. See our website http://www.talkingfire.org and to book.

Please download and share our flier too, and look for Talking Fire on Facebook.

Talking Fire: A Community Conversation (12-13 November, Newstead)

Our Community Conversation will explore many questions. For example: Will bush regeneration change fire risk?

Our Community Conversation will explore many questions. For example: Will bush regeneration change fire risk?

Muckleford Forest Friends Group has received a grant through the Mount Alexander Shire Council 2016 Community Grants Program to present a Community Conversation on Understanding fire in our landscape.

The idea comes from the Newstead Community Plan, and reflects a concern about the way that prescribed burning has targeted public land without a landscape-wide consideration of risk and risk reduction. The new approach adopted by the State Government – Safer Together – suggests that new approaches are possible, and that it is a good time to open up a community-wide conversation.

During the weekend we will explore the history of fire in the Newstead-Maldon landscape, looking back to land and fire management practices of the Jaara people, reflecting on landscape changes, mapping what we value, and building an understanding of risk and different ways to we can respond to risk.

This event is being designed for in Newstead, Maldon and everywhere in between and close by!

Planning is underway for the weekend and we’d welcome your input – ideas, possible speakers, helping planning walks and site visits, sourcing maps and resources – and of course coming along and being part of the Community Conversation. Able to help? Please email mucklefordffg@bigpond.com

This project is supported through the Mount Alexander Shire Council 2016 Community Grants Program, auspiced by MULGA (Maldon Urban Landcare Group), and supported by local groups including Newstead Landcare, Muckleford Catchment Landcare, Newstead 2021, Connecting Country, Newstead CFA Brigade.

You can download a summary of the grant application here and also look at page 42 of the Newstead Community Plan.

 

Take 2 – Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project

PBBIFApologies dear readers – the link on the last post to the report didn’t work – here is the correct link – https://mucklefordforest.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/box-ironbark-booklet.pdf

 

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Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project

PBBIF

The report is in from the project team who have been working on the Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project – a collaborative project between La Trobe and Deakin Universities, DELWP and Parks Victoria. The aim of the project was to investigate the short-term ecological effects of planned burns in the Heathcote-Graytown-Rushworth forest. This project was a huge undertaking and has produced some very interesting results that will inform the use of fire as a management tool in box-ironbark forests.

Key findings have been summarised in a relatively short colour booklet. There is also a full report.  If you would like to receive a hard copy please contact Greg Holland: Research Fellow, Department of Ecology, Environment & Evolution, La Trobe University at Greg.Holland@latrobe.edu.au

The next challenge is to ensure that this work continues, and this is now with DELWP.

Minister fails to answer – so let’s go walking tomorrow!

The Minister responds

We have heard back from Minister Lisa Neville. What we got was a standard letter that focuses on the review by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management Victoria on performance targets for future fuel management program on public land. We know it’s a standard letter because we’ve seen the response to others who have also sought a moratorium on this seasons burns where there are significant biodiversity issues – like Donkey Farm Track and in fact much of the Muckleford and adjoining forests.

To quote Minister Neville: ‘We’re not pre-empting the results of the review, so planned burns scheduled for 2014-15 are still current’.

But our submission highlighted issues with a currently planned burn where we believe that the government is flying close to the wind in relation to state legislation. You’d think she might have at least mentioned our submission and the issues raised – even to reject our arguments.

We’ll be writing again to the Minister and to our local member of Parliament Maree Edwards to ask for a response to the substantive matters raised. And we are seeking a meeting with our regional DELWP officers to continue to advocate for the Donkey Farm Track area and to get their response to our submission.

But let’s enjoy the forest!

This Sunday, 19th April 2015 – tomorrow – there will be a bush walk in Muckleford. The walk is part of the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests bushwalking program. We will walk through areas of interest like the firewood collection area and Dunns Reef. It’s a good 5-6km, with some uphill trekking, but fairly easy.

If you want to come on the walk, meet at the Continuing Education building in Templeton Street at 9.30am to car pool. Otherwise, meet at the Red, White and Blue Poppet Head mine in the Muckleford State Forest. Bring water bottle, snacks and lunch. We will be finished by 1pm. For any queries, call Neville Cooper on 0401 319 659.

The Dunns Reef area is scheduled for a burn in Autumn 2016. The Fire Operations Plan designates 257.6ha (CAS 011) to be burnt for fuel reduction defining the objective as “to provide an irregular mosaic of areas of fuel reduction which will complement works in adjacent fire management zones and can assist in ecological resilience and forest regeneration’. The way in which ecological resilience will be achieved by these burns has never been explained by DELWP (or its predecessor organisations DEPI, DSE etc). We don’t know which areas DELWP intends to ‘treat’ but they did put a sketch plan on the table a couple of years ago. There are also some designated Special Protection Areas within the Dunns Reef area, it adjoins the Muckleford Conservation Reserve and appears to be part of the Phascogale (Tuan) Priority Area (like the Donkey Farm Track area) based on Phascogale surveys conducted over many years by the Department.

 

 

If you were a tuan, would you vote for burning?

The Maldon Historic Reserve is a Tuan (Brush-tailed Phascogale) Priority Area. Tuans use hollows in the base of trees if there are no higher hollows – and there are very few in this area. Tuans are listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, so our government has a responsibility to protect this species.

For years the Victorian Environment Department (under many different names) has conducted regular surveys of Tuan in the Muckleford Forest, with one transect following the western edge of this proposed burn. The department’s data tells us that this area is a stronghold for Tuan.

Brush-tailed Phascogale - or Tuan (Image:  www.bird.net.au)

Brush-tailed Phascogale – or Tuan (Image:
http://www.bird.net.au)

So how do you protect Tuan when you have to burn a patch of beautiful forest to meet an unjustifiable target?

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act Action Statement for this species indicates that there is a limited understanding of the impact of fire on Brush-Tailed Phascogale populations and its critical habitat. A recommended action is to encourage research into the effect of different fire regimes on Brush-Tailed Phascogale populations. Has any such research has been undertaken? What are the results?

From a 2013 DSE document (now DELWP), the “burn” prescriptions for Brush-tailed Phascogale are:

  • Muckleford Priority Area – no burning (The Brush-tailed Phascogale Priority Management Area covers the Muckleford NCR and the Maldon Historic Reserve and includes the CAS 010 burn area)

And for other places where there are records of the Brush-tailed Phascogale:

  • Implement a mosaic burn coverage of 20-30%
  • Protect hollow-bearing trees and stumps (coppiced trees) by rakehoe line
  • No direct ignition of large woody debris.

Of course, not only the Tuans will be impacted if this burn goes ahead – read our letter and submission to the new Minister for the Environment Lisa Neville and you will start to appreciate how our living Box-Ironbark forests are being degraded with each and every burn.

The new Victorian government might be reviewing the target, but right now they are still burning. Please say no to any more of this destructive burning.

 

No longer a safe hollow
No longer a safe hollow