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Upper Catchment Issues Vol 1 No 2 Section 3a

Author: Tasmanian Community Resource Auditors Incorporated

Section Three Part a

Forest Practices

Initial inspection of operations when matched with relevant sections of the FPP and FPC revealed breaches. A list of these breaches was drawn up, photographic and video evidence taken, and FT contacted. A meeting was convened between Forestry Tasmania officers, Forest Practices Board officers and MAEMG on site on 15/3/01. A letter confirming resolutions of this meeting, and detailing MAEMG requests for documentation supporting FT's risk assessment for the Coupe, monthly audits of operations, FPP's for coupes adjacent to LI 126C and information concerning training of Forestry Officers and Contractors in FPC 2000 was sent to the FPB on 16/3/01 (appendix 17). A letter of complaint was sent by MAEMG to the Acting Chief Forest Practices Officer, Forest Practices Board, on 18/3/01, listing several identified breaches (appendix 18).

In response MAEMG received a letter from FT (Brian Farmer) dated 27/3/01, saying that they were unable to provide most of the requested information, but offering to meet with MAEMG to concur on what information would be available (appendix 19). Despite a further request for information at a meeting on the 9/4/01 by MAEMG, no further information was forthcoming from FT.

The investigative report into operations in the coupe was faxed to MAEMG by FPB on Friday, May 18, 2001. (appendix 7).

This report stated that:

"In general a reasonable standard of forest practices has been achieved within the coupe. There is no evidence of undue environmental harm.

The majority of alleged breaches of the Code are unsubstantiated." (appendix 7).

Mismatches with MAEMG audit relating to forest practices:

1. Watercourses

"According to the FPC (2000 and 1993), class 4 streams are defined as According to the FPC (2000 and 1993), class 4 streams are defined as: "All other watercourses carrying water for part or all of the year for most years."

(see FPC 2000 p.56, FPC 1993 p.39). Under this definition, much of the harvested areas on the Mountain side of Mt Arthur Road (area described in variation to FPP) should have been identified as containing Class 4 streams because of evidence of running water through many channels, even at the end of the extreme dry summer of 2000/1.

1.1 Inadequate classification of streams.

No streams were identified by FT on the mountain side of Mt Arthur Road, in the area defined by the variation to the FPP either in the FPP itself or during subsequent harvesting operations, although MAEMG surveyed the area and identified 11 small streams crossing Mt Arthur road at approximately 200m, 330m, 400m, 420-440m, 480m, 1000m, 1100m, 1175m. 1280m, 1300m and 1400m from the coupe boundary lilydale end. Each of these streams originated from permanent springs further up the hill, which flowed both across the surface and underground down the slope to each road crossing.

1.2 Inadequate protection of streams and springs

According to the FPC:

The significance of these watercourses and springs to domestic water supply and to habitat for the threatened species Engaeus orramakunna should have ensured that they were afforded even wider streamside reserves than Class 4 protection. They had no protection. Several watercourses have been clear-felled and the logging equipment has dragged/skidded logs along in the streams. Despite the drought conditions wheel ruts run up and down and crisscross with water flowing a distance of some 50m. This has created short and long term damage to the soil and increased the potential for erosion, greatly disturbed colonies of E. orramakunna significant to the species population, and interfered significantly with water flow (Photo section, photo 23).

1.3 Inadequate distance between refuelling, storage of fuel tankers and watercourses.

The FPP section C.5 states: "Due to proximity of town supply...no servicing or refuelling of equipment, or storage of fuel tankers closer than 100m to streams," (appendix 3). Refuelling and storage of fuel occurred within 100m of streamside reserves (see Photo section, photos 7, 16).

2. Landings

According to the FPC, section C3.3 states:
"Landings (including harvesting debris) should be kept as far as practicable from watercourses. Landings will not be permitted within 40m from the boundary of a streamside reserve or a Class 4 machinery exclusion zone..."
(FPC 2000 p.42, FPC 1993 p.35).

Also, "Landings will be located so that mud and slush from them does not enter water courses" (FPC 1993 p.35).

The report from the FPB states that:"Landings within the coupe arc generally well located" (see appendix 7).

MAEMG observed landings along Mt Arthur Road that breached the FPC and the FPP because they were located within 40m of watercourses (Photo section photo 23a) and some were even directly over unclassified streams:

3. Snig Tracks

According to the FPC "Snigging will not be conducted along drainage depressions in native forests." (FPC 2000, p.36). "No watercourse bed or drainage line will be used for snigging along". (FPC l993 p.30). The MAEMG found that Drainage Depressions were used as Snig Tracks. At least two drainage depressions (classified by Assoc. Prof. Finlayson as class 4 watercourses - appendix 4) had been used as snig tracks for a distance of 160m in the area to the North East of Mt Arthur Road, contained within the area defined by the variation to the FPP, (Photo section photos 19, 20). Also on top side of Mt Arthur Road unmarked streams were used as snig tracks causing ruts for a distance of approx 50m.

4. Stream Crossings

The FPC states "The number of crossings of Class 3 and 4 watercourses will be minimised and restricted to clearly marked crossing points. Dry Class 4 water courses may be crossed without log crossings and culverts..." (FPC 1993 p.30 or see FPC 2000 section C3.1 p.36). Due to no streams being marked in area defined by variation to FPP, streams had been severely damaged through repeated crossing by machinery up and down streams where clear-felling had occurred (Photo section photos 1,2,3,4, 23, 23a). In other parts of the area defined by the variation to the FPP snig tracks had been pushed through water-courses carrying water, without marking crossings (see Photo section photo no. 18).

5. Marking of roadside landings, coupe boundaries

On 11/2/01 Frank and Karin Strie observed "No blue boundary tape visible ... Neither on trees next to any streamside reserves, any of the roadside landings close or on lop of water drainage lines, or on the road edges along the boundaries on the southern and northern ends of the coupe." (appendix 20). MAEMG observed no marking of roadside landings that came closer than 40m to a streamside reserve and or drainage depression.

6. Tree Felling in streamside reserves

In the coupe LI 126C as well as adjacent Coupes LI 126A and LI 127C the rainforest in the deep gully of one designated class 4 streamside reserve (actually class 3 for some of its length above where FT marked it according to catchment area - appendix 5) had been harvested of almost all trees (cull-felled) for a distance of several hundred metres while another had been clear-felled. (see Photo section photo 6, 26). Here, the intermittent remnant of streamside vegetation (some 300m below the road) contains many fallen trees. According to Mr Strie, the remnant standing trees appear sick most likely due to the herbicide spray drift and the sudden exposure to sun and wind.

Most of the above breaches occurred because the area in the Southern end of the coupe was not properly assessed in the planning stage. To comply with the FPC would have been unworkable, due to the number of subterranean streams, springs and watercourses typical of the upper catchments. MAEMG therefore concludes that due to inadequate planning, the contractor was directed to operate and consequently set an extremely difficult task to comply with the FPC in an area that should not have been clearfelled.

7. Site Preparation Procedures:

(a) Windrows

MAEMG noted slash/wood-waste pushed directly into streamside reserves. Below the remaining "Pan shaped" Myrtle forest (the flattest area in the region) there is an underground stream of water running in the southern direction (in line with Mount Barrow) the obvious surface depression (~300m) was ignored and the natural vegetation pushed into windrows. Above the emerging stream-conduit, (class 3) some trees were left standing (sassafras and myrtle). There is considerable build up of silt banking against manfern-stems that had been pushed over. Some trees have clear signs (imprints) of the machine pushing them into the streamside reserve (Photo section. photo 21). On the eastern side of the few remnants, the logging debris has been pushed against the reserve (see Photo section photo 22).

(b) Cultivation: