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An eye-opening experience

An eye-opening experience

Recently, Kinglake Friends of the Forest invited the crossbench MPs from the Victorian Legislative Council to the forests. 

They wanted the MPs to see and experience the amazing ecosystems, the ancient trees and the animals who call this habitat home. They also wanted the MPs to witness the destruction of these forests caused by logging. Last week myself and three of my staff, Bruce Poon, Dr Tamasin Ramsay and Dr Nadine Richings, accepted the invitation. 

We met with members of Kinglake Friends of the Forest and they took us on a tour of the forests around Toolangi and Kinglake.

We saw the impacts of logging; the destruction of habitat and homes, the devastation of ecosystems. The massive scars on the land.

We saw some magnificent old trees that are hundreds of years old and have managed to survive bushfires and logging.

We saw regrowth, where plant species have appeared in different proportions and are growing at different rates, to create a new habitat that is different from the one they are replacing and will therefore change the area forever.

We heard the loud, varied call of a lyrebird, a master of mimicry, reverberating across the valley.

We saw signs that wombats and wallabies were in the area and, unfortunately, we saw and heard far fewer birds than I would have expected.

We watched a giant glide over our heads across the valley, turn and sail effortlessly back toward us, then disappear over the ridge; a wedge-tailed eagle with its unmistakable size and shape.

We saw an amazing community resource, The Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre, just lying idle and unused. This is a place where the community and visitors can learn about the extraordinary life in the forests; about the plants, animals and fungi that call it home. This site could provide services and jobs to the community, support tourism and educate visitors about the wonderful forest and its residents.

We went spotlighting at night in the hope of finding nocturnal mammals and birds. We heard a powerful owl, and we were fortunate to see Greater Gliders!  Greater Gliders are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, in partnership with the Victorian Government and Parks Victoria, has a greater glider conservation project.

Old growth trees have nesting holes for animals such as the greater glider, but these are the trees that logging companies target. The homes of magnificent, voiceless animals have been torn down and the planning and management by forestry and DELWP have not respected or understood the animals and other species that call this area home. 

You can tell the Government what this area means to Victoria’s nature, to its biodiversity, by making a submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Extinction Inquiry.

Thank you to Kinglake Friends of the Forest for their time and hospitality in showing us around and for their tireless work advocating for the forests and their residents, such as greater gliders.