Tag Archives: Brush-tailed Phascogale

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.

 

 

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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