Lake Elizabeth is located on the East Barwon River within the Otway State Forest. The lake was formed after a landslide formed a natural dam wall in 1951. The lake area, and approximately 1300 Hectares of the East Barwon catchment above the lake, was listed as National Estate by the Australian Heritage Commission in 1984. Despite this the area is available for logging.
The East Barwon River, including Lake Elizabeth, is also an important part of the Geelong domestic water supply catchment.
See map of Lake Elizabeth below.
Formation of Lake
In 1978 the Land Conservation Council (LCC) released a report titled Final Recommendations for the Corangamite Area that recommended Lake Elizabeth and surrounding areas should be placed into a legislated reserve. This was never done.
E2 Barwon Forest (11,700 ha)
In 1984, N. Rosengren conducted a survey of sites of Geological and Geomorphological Significance within the Shire of Otway for the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands. The Rosengren report recommended that Lake Elizabeth be listed as an area of National Estate and that the lake's catchment should not be disturbed, including disturbance from clearing and forestry operations. The site was recommended as Class 1 sensitivity. (See Rosengren report, page 5.)
Rosengren's 1984 report resulted in the Australian Heritage Commission listing 1,300 hectares of the headwaters of Lake Elizabeth as National Estate in 1984.
In 1994/95 the Department of Natural Resources and Environment authorised the clearfell logging of a coupe 20-30 Ha in size on Thompson track in the upper headwaters of East Barwon Catchment. This is the only clearfell logging known to have occurred after the National Estate listing of the East Barwon Catchment in 1984. (See Map below.)
Forestry Victoria plans to clearfell log a 55 hectare area (half a square kilometre) of forest within the Lake Elizabeth National Estate at an area known as Bowman Spur.
Bowman Spur is a site of a former landslide, listed by Rosengren in 1984 as a site of Regional Geological Significance. This landslip area dates back to pre-European 'discovery' of the Otways. Clearfell logging at Bowman Spur will involve the construction of a road network to remove trees. Rosengren raised concerns that any road works in the vicinity of the site of the old landslide could pose a potential hazard.
The Otways is inherently a high landslide prone area. A recent study was conducted by Sinclair Knight Merz into the impact of clearfell logging on water quality and quantity in the Otways. This study identified a lack of prescriptions within the Code of Forest Practices for Timber Production to provide a procedure for identifying and responding to landslide risk.
Source: SKM Impacts of Logging on Water Yield and Quality in the Otway Forests. Page 126. Department Natural Resources and Environment, December 2000.
The 1992 Otway Forest Management Plan:
A report titled National Estate Identification and Assessment in the West Region of Victoria Jan 2000, West RFA failed to assess the Geological and geomorphological significance of Lake Elizabeth.
As a result the West RFA made the assumption that logging can go ahead in the Lake Elizabeth area of National Estate.
Despite Lake Elizabeth being promoted as an important tourist destination, as yet the regional tourism industry is unaware of the National Estate Values of the lake. Regional tourist bodies, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment and local government do not promote the lake's National Estate status. Signage and information boards at the lake picnic and camping ground do not acknowledge the National Estate values of the lake and its catchment.
For example the Great Outdoors website which promotes the Lake Elizabeth walking track does not mention the National Estate listing of the lake and catchment area where logging is proposed. (as of 1/10/02)
The Lake Elizabeth Campaign has focused attention on National Estate Values, hazards of logging on a former land slide in the Geelong water supply catchment, research and raising public awareness.
In April 2002, the Environment Minister's office signaled that clearfell logging was about to commence at Bowman Spur. The boundaries of the area to be logged were marked up by forestry officers. However a few days before logging was to commence, the decision was reversed and logging did not go ahead.
This reprieve for Lake Elizabeth was the result of a series of public awareness picnics that raised the profile of the area combined by research and negotiation with the Ministers Office and Forestry Victoria.
The campaign continues to focus on the Lake Elizabeth National Estate Values and recommendations by Neville Rosengren that logging should not proceed in the area.
|See National Estate Listing of Lake Elizabeth|
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