The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) has released a draft proposals paper for its investigation into Victoria's Central West which covers areas of native forest at the southern end of Australia’s Great Dividing Range and contains the headwaters of several of Victoria’s major rivers, flowing both inland and to the coast.
The investigation covers three major blocks - the Mount Cole–Pyrenees range, Wellsford forest and the Wombat forest–Macedon area - which are all facing pressures from increasing population, climate change, and habitat fragmentation.
VEAC is investigating whether the protected area system (also known as the conservation reserve system) is representative of the natural biodiversity of the areas. VEAC chair, Janine Haddow, notes in her forward to the paper that most of this land has not been reviewed for more than 30 years, and many ecosystems are under-represented in the protected area system.
“This means that unlike much of the rest of the state, many ecosystems are under-represented in the protected area system. Recent work on the importance of the investigation area for threatened flora and fauna shows that it provides habitat for 375 threatened species. And the smaller vegetated blocks and strips of public land are important stepping stones in the landscape.”
“The draft recommendations propose a significant increase in protected areas while retaining some areas of forest in the Mount Cole–Pyrenees block for timber production. The recommendations for new national parks, conservation parks, nature reserves and bushland reserves make an important contribution to improving ecological representation of the protected area system and include a large part of the most important habitat for rare and threatened species.”
VEAC has called for comment on the draft proposals paper by 31 October 2018. The draft proposals paper is available here.