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Upper Catchment Issues Vol 1 No 3

Author: Tasmanian Community Resource Auditors Incorporated

SECTION ONE
Background

Introduction

Forest coupe RT241F at Lebrina (formerly known as privately owned "Hume and Kerrison Block") and surrounding Bare Point area has been selectively logged over many decades, but extensively cleared of native forest over the past two years. Much of this area (south-east of Bare Point) has been planted with Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus by Forestry Tasmania. After community concerns were expressed, a preliminary observation of this particular coupe revealed apparent wide-scale mismanagement of streams and watercourses. An audit process similar to that reported in Upper Catchment Issues Tasmania, Vol. 1. No. 1 and reported in the Mount Arthur Environment Management Group Inc. Environmental Impact Study was commenced to evaluate the environmental effects of forestry operations in this coupe and surrounding area, and to evaluate the performance of the Tasmanian Forest Practices System as it pertains to this area.

Context

Coupe RT241F is situated to the north-east of the junction between the Pipers Brook and Golconda Roads. It covers 95 ha and has a south westerly aspect. It is situated at an elevation of between 190 and 250m. It adjoins an already extensive area of plantation extending from Bare Point in an easterly direction for about 300ha. Coupe RT241F can be located on 1:25000 Mapsheet Nabowla 5244 at co-ordinates 520493mE, 5443687mN. This coupe is a significant water catchment for the Pipers Brook.

Statement of the Issue

Initially, this coupe was brought to the auditor's attention when post-harvesting waste-wood burning of the area caused local residents great concern. Following the community based audits of Diddleum Plains and Mt Arthur, with particular interest in management of watercourses, an audit of forestry operations in this coupe and surrounding area was commenced.

Of particular concern to the local community was the treatment of water courses, the scenic impact and impact on local amenity, the lack of community consultation, the treatment of fauna (in particular threatened species and potential habitat) and the effect on local businesses as a result of harvesting, site preparation and plantation establishment. Local residents and businesses were consulted and information such as plans, letters and reports were gathered. Local knowledge of the area was sourced which, together with preliminary on-site observations, provided the basis for the audit.

Biophysical Capability

General Area

Water Flow

The existing forest systems of this area have served to moderate run-off in the higher rainfall periods, affording continuous recharge of river systems. Streams in the area tend to be characterised by incised channels with sustained water flow.

Soils

The soils in the area are derived from silurian/devonian siltstone and sandstone .

Fauna and flora

Dry sclerophyll forest dominated by Eucalyptus amygdalina and Eucalyptus obliqua over species such as Banksia marginata, Leucopogon australis and Lomandra longifolia. This forest type supports a range of common marsupials birds, insects and invertebrates. The once extensive size of natural forest across this area, together with its elevation, made it potential habitat for nesting wedge tailed eagles. The presence of many permanent streams made the area potential habitat for the giant freshwater crayfish Astacopsis gouldi, particularly for the juvenile stage which is believed to migrate into smaller stream zones which are lined with overhanging vegetation.

Methods Used to Gather and Analyse Data

The research methodology used in this investigation was based on planning, action and reflection involving members of the local community, the auditor with experience in forest practices auditing, and independent specialist consultants.

Firstly, the Bass District Forest Management Plan (3 year Plan) March 2000, and the Forest Practices Code January 1993 were compared with the Forest Practices Plan no. MJS00113 and used to assess how closely coupe managers (Forestry Tasmania) had kept to the mandatory guidelines for planning in this case. Next, onsite observations of forestry operations were documented. The Forest Practices Plan, Forest Practices Code and relevant soil and fauna planning manuals were then used to compare management prescriptions with actual practices. Mismatches between actual practice and prescribed management standards were noted, photographed and video-taped from which hypotheses were drawn. These hypotheses were then checked against the expert specialist opinion of Mr. Frank Strie (Private Forestry Consultant). Further refinement of on-site inspections and documentation followed. Conclusions were reached from which a list of breaches of the Forest Practices Code (Jan 1993) was drawn.

Parameters of Investigation

The primary concern of this audit is the performance of the Tasmanian Forest Practices System as it pertains to this area.

The following areas of concern have therefore been identified for investigation in this audit:

1. Forestry Tasmania's compliance with relevant mandatory planning procedures including:

2. Compliance of harvesting and site preparation operations with mandatory Forestry Code of Practice including:

Secondly, and emerging from the findings above, the performance of Tasmania's Forest Practices System against its stated aims and its requirements as set down by the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, is assessed.

Note:
* All quotations from letters, documents and publications of either Forestry Tasmania or The Forest Practices Board, and all quotations from related legislation and the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, will be highlighted in grey shading in the following audit. All other quotations will be left as general text.


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