Saving the Forest with Science

The Mirboo North community successfully lobbied against state-owned logging company VicForests’ plans to log three native forest coupes. 

This great feat was achieved by the creation of extensive surveys initiated by Preserve Our Forests, in which an environmental scientist studied the unique vegetation and threatened species of the forest. 

 The Preserve our Forests Biodiversity Working Group , which was led by Coordinator, Susan Koci in conjunction with 30 volunteers, undertook the huge task of documenting the forest’s biodiversity.  

“We were lucky enough to have access to highly credentialed environmental scientists and field naturalists that used the latest technology such as GPS and cameras to identify native plants and wildlife. Many night time surveys were conducted to study habitat , such as the Greater Glider’s den locations, which are only present in very old trees,” said Marg Thomas from Preserve Our Forests.  

“There was also extensive research into the genetically diverse South Gippsland Koala and it’s local population in our area, which led to a paper being published by Federation University.” 

We were able to prove that with loss of habitat of old growth forest, the Greater Glider population could become extinct, which is what has happened in nearby Turtons Creek,” continued Marg, who said that the South Gippsland Shire Councillors assisted them greatly by strongly advocating for them to the state government. 

Marg said that was important to them to positively engage with local government representatives and ministers.  

“Lily D’Ambrosio was very responsive and listened to our concerns. As well as the environmental surveys, we conducted honest anonymous local community surveys to hear their concerns and there was socio-economic tourism specific data that the shire had helped us to collate.”  

Marg said that like all industries, after a 100 years of government logging, it is working towards transitioning towards a more sustainable way to manage forestry. 

“For the sake of its own work force and to the 30% of old growth forest left in Australia, as well as the sake of maintaining important wildlife corridors, the government knows it needs to adapt it’s thinking.” 

“For now Mirboo North has been taken off VicForests timber release plans, but we must remain vigilant.  It’s now up to us to ensure zoning is preserved,” says Marg. 

The group moved a motion at the recent Greening Australia talk held in Mirboo North to attempt to have the forest zoned as a ‘Nature Conservation Reserve’.  

The State Government announced recently that Mirboo North’s forests are now designated as an Immediate Protection Area (IPA). Preserve our Forests  looks forward to working with government to formalise the announcement and tease out the details over the coming months.  

“From the start, we have been guided by the community. We now see its our role to promote better care of the forest, ensuring that together we are looking after it and that we all become stewards of our forest.”