West Victorian Regional Forest Agreeement
Public consultation: Issues report
West Victorian Independent Panel
Download whole report (pdf).
issues raised which the RFA will need to address
Water Catchment Management (Page 6)
process highlighted that there are significant public concerns about the
impacts of logging and clear felling practices on the quality and quantity
of domestic and commercial water supplies. Whilst water catchment issues
were raised generally across the entire West Victoria region, many submissions
strongly noted that logging and clearfelling in catchment areas are considered
to be endangering the Otway / Geelong! Warrnambool region water supply.
Submissions commented that the Western District is totally dependent on
the availability of potable water and that logging activities should cease
or be minimised to maintain water quality and quantity.
referred to a number of Otways water catchment areas which supply Geelong
and Warrnambool, including West Barham River Catchment area, the Cumberland,
Wye, Kennett, and St Georges River. It was also noted that logging is
apparently occurring in a number of these catchments, for example the
Upper Barwon, Gellibrand, and South Otways.
the above, industry-related sources expressed a viewpoint that forestry
activity in the Otways was not leading to any environmental damage to
the water supply, and that indeed water quality is more than adequately
protected by prescriptions under the Code of Forest Practices for Timber
Production. It was argued that the scale at which water quantity may be
affected by the conversion of mature forest to regrowth takes place under
existing forest management practices and makes an undetectable impact
on water supply. The issue of water quality needs to be considered relative
to long-term meteorological cycles such as drought.
The key proposals
raised concerning water catchment issues are for State Government to:
hydrological research on water yield to investigate all surface and
groundwater systems, having regard to an economic comparison between
timber, water, tourism, and social values; and
- Implement and upgrade
the Code of Forest Practices for Timber Production (Code) to effectively
protect water quality. This includes conducting periodic and transparent
audits of Code compliance and public reporting by a body independent of
the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), to ensure
that water quality is not compromised. Stricter protection measures are
required in the upper reaches of headwaters.
issues raised during the public consultation period
4.2 Water Catchment
and proposals about water catchment issues in West Victoria are set out
Consultation Paper failed to give appropriate economic weight to issues
of catchment yield (quality and quantity) versus logging, displaying
only superficial consideration to expected reductions in stream flows.
Many submissions referred to the Auditor General’s report on the Timber
Industry which noted that DNRE needed to develop procedures to enable
economic values of wood and water to be prioritized.
should be suspended until further studies on its impacts on water yield
are undertaken. A number of submissions cited research that indicated
that there is a significant effect on water yield as a result of clear
felling, and that the value of water lost through logging in catchments
is at least three times the value of woodchips and timber harvesting.
In addition, a number of major research undertakings were also cited
which concluded, among other things, that water yield is almost twice
from old growth forests than from young forests, and therefore timber
harvesting in catchments should cease or be improved.
production in water catchments will impose additional costs to affected
communities in the form of increased water treatment expenses and costs
associated with siltation and reduced water availability. Concerns were
also raised regarding the use of herbicides to control weeds in silviculture
that may enter and damage waterways.
• A lack
of adequate rainfall will not enable allowable harvest rates to be achieved.
Forests will not reach their full maturity based on the proposed water
yields, which in turn impacts on the availability of sawlogs for the
felling practices, with inadequate buffers and declining vegetation,
increase soil erosion and therefore siltation in streams, for example
as reported in the Cumberland River waterways. It was noted that the
Code of Forest Practices for Timber Production does not fulfil the purpose
of protecting water quality and that problems still occur from turbidity
in the Otway catchments as buffer zones are not being adhered to.
catchment areas in the south and southwest should have the same protection
as for the Melbourne area.
to adequate future water supplies is required to enable further significant
investments and expansion into the region’s food and tourism industries.
for consideration to address the above concerns are to:
the Midlands FMA Mineral Springs and their Recharge Areas for listing
by the Australian Heritage Commission. Research is required to determine
the impact of timber-related activities on Mineral Springs Recharge
and implement a closed catchment policy so that logging should be excluded
from water supply areas. This includes the Otway catchments and Upper
supply reserves in West Wimmera should be extended to include Gillies
Lagoon, the Tulloch, Cemetery Swamp, and Kanawinka fault line areas.
the West Barham Catchment in the Big Tree Reserve as Apollo Bay’s water
source and expand those reserves to include water catchment areas for
Geelong and Warrnambool.