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Upper Catchment Issues Vol 1 No 2 - Introduction

Author: Tasmanian Community Resource Auditors Incorporated


The area shown in appendix 1 (Forest Coupe LI 126C and surrounding areas, including the variation to Coupe LI 126C, and Coupes LI 126A and LI 127C) has been extensively clearfelled and prepared for plantation establishment by Forestry Tasmania (FT). This area forms part of the upper catchment for the City of Launceston, and townships of lilydale, Patersonia and Wyena. The Mt Arthur Environment Management Group Inc. (MAEMG) was formed when harvesting was noticed in the area known as "the variation to Coupe LI 126C". Group members held concerns for the impact of logging and plantation establishment on the local environment, particularly water.

Dialogue and correspondence with Forestry Tasmania (FT) failed to reveal an adequate risk assessment for the coupe. The MAEMG then began an audit process similar to that reported in Upper Catchment Issues Tasmania, Vol. 1 No. 1 to independently evaluate the risk associated with forestry operations in the Mt Arthur catchment area. This audit brought together local knowledge of the Coupe and surrounding areas, as well as other knowledge generated by experts from a range of scientific disciplines. An independent assessment of the issues surrounding the planning, supervision and monitoring of harvesting operations was then initiated by the local community through the Mount Arthur Environment Management Group Inc.


The area referred to as Coupe LI 126C is situated on the north-eastern slope of Mt Arthur in the North East of Tasmania at an elevation between 550 and 700m. It adjoins the extensive "production forest" plantation estate known as lisle and can be located on Map sheet LI SLE 5243 at grid reference E 525519, N 5431804.

Coupe LI 126C is divided by the Mt Arthur Road, which runs from lilydale to Patersonia. The area includes many steep valleys and is a significant catchment for the Patersonia Rivulet (tributary to the St Patrick's River), Shepherd's Rivulet and lisle Creek (which are tributaries to the little Forester river).

Statement of the Issue

Despite assurances by FT to Mr. S. Wearne in March 2000 and Mrs. F. Withopf (members of MAEMG) in April and November 2000, that harvesting in the area above the Mt Arthur Road was unlikely (and that if it proceeded it would do so only after further community consultation), local residents confirmed that harvesting was occurring on the mountain side of Mt Arthur Road on 27/2/01. A group of 30 concerned residents met with FT on site for an initial briefing on 6/3/01. This was followed by correspondence between FT and the MAEMG, between 7/3/01 and 27/3/01. Analysis of FT's management plan for the coupe suggested that an adequate risk assessment had not been done as to the environmental aspects and potential impacts of forestry operations. MAEMG therefore commenced an investigation into, and risk assessment of, forestry operations in the coupe, with particular reference to the area to the South-West of Mt Arthur road described in the variation to the original Forest Practices Plan No. MJS 0106 (FPP). The FPP, Forest Practices Codes (FPC's 2000 and 1993), Forest Practices Act, Forestry Act and the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) were used to assess Forestry Operations, while reports (scientific and other) were sourced and documented and compared with FT's management plan, the FPP.

Biophysical Description

General Area

Water Flow -

The existing forest systems of the area have served to moderate run-off in the higher rainfall periods, affording continuous recharge of river systems. Based on Launceston Weather Services (information 301h May, 2001: Targa Weather station 1259mm/pa. to Diddleum Plains 1554mm/pa) the average rainfall for this area is around 1500mm/pa.

Soils -

The soils in the greater part of Coupe LI 126C are derived from bedrock known to geologists as "Mathinna beds" (sedimentary rocks such as mudstone, siltstone. sandstone, etc) while soils in the area defined by the variation to the FPP are derived from bedrock of Jurassic Dolerite.

Flora and Fauna -

The flora of the catchment includes many rainforest species, as well as eucalypts in varying concentrations in forest communities. Forest cover is classified as mixed with some rainforest. Fauna known to exist in the Coupe include the threatened species Engaeus orramakunna (Mt Arthur Burrowing Crayfish), Anoglypyta launcestonensis (Northeast Forest Snail), as well as the more widely distributed marsupials, birds, insects and invertebrates associated with wet forest communities of north-eastern Tasmania.

Coupe LI 126C

Coupe LI 126C, the primary area under study, consists of 204 hectares defined by the original Forest Practices Plan (FPP) No. MJS 0106, plus a further 46 hectares covered by the subsequent application for variation of the FPP; 250ha in total. This coupe is part of the Mt. Arthur upper water catchment, aspects of which cannot be assessed in isolation (such as treatment of streams and threatened fauna that cross coupe boundaries) and therefore the study includes some areas adjacent to this coupe, particularly those defined as coupes LI 126A and LI 127C.

Method Used to Gather Data

The research methodology used in this investigation was based on planning, action and reflection involving members of the local community and independent specialist consultants. Initial on-site field observations by members of the community with local knowledge were compared with FT's assertions and claims sourced through the FPP. Questions raised by this process were referred back to FT by MAEMG for further clarification with face to face interviews and letters. MAEMG then sought advice from Philip Tattersall (Community Based Risk Assessment Consultant), who provided advice on ISO 14001. Mismatches between community observations and FT assertions were then checked against the expert specialist opinions of Assoc. Prof. Brian Finlayson (Centre for Environmental Applied Hydrology, School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies, The University of Melbourne), Mr Frank Strie (Private Forestry Consultant), Dr Owen Ingles (Soil Engineering & Risk Management Consultant), and Mr Jim Nelson (Engaeus Project Officer for Launceston Environment Centre). Where these mismatches were verified by the commissioned reports, photos and videos were taken and in some cases, the matter referred to the relevant authority. Where mismatches in hypotheses emerged, they were tested with ongoing returns to the field, and further questioning. In some cases, conclusions were drawn and recommendations were made to FT for alternative management strategies.

Throughout this report the heading "mismatch" directs the reader to areas where our audit team discovered discrepancies between the aspects contained in the forest practices plan (and/or Forest Practices Code) and what actually happened in the coupe. These mismatches were therefore isolated as either actual or potential environmental impacts.

Parameters of Investigation

Identified breaches of the Forest Practices Code, (FPC) by contractors were referred to the Forest Practices Board (FPB) for investigation, along with some concerns regarding FT management of operations (see appendices 17 and 18).

The following areas of concern were identified for investigation in a community based audit:

Environmental Aspects:

Significant Impacts of Clearfelling and Plantation Establishment

Forestry Operations

Forestry Tasmania's Management Performance

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