Victorian Environmental Assessment Council(VEAC) releases final recommendations for the Otways.
Christmas 2004 update!
The final VEAC Recommendations for a new expanded Otways National Park were publicly released on Monday 29th November 2004. The final result is excellent!
The New Otways National Park will be 102,470 ha. Much cutting and pasting occurred between the draft proposals released in May and the final result. Overall the Otway National Park is 4000 ha bigger than the draft proposals.
See VEAC webpage for final report recommendations and map for the Great Otway National Park.
The new expanded Otway Ranges National Park will combine the existing Otway National Park and also include, the Angahook-Lorne, Carlisle and Melba Gully State Parks and areas of former high conservation state forest.
Overall, the most outstanding natural values currently located in State forest (and until now, threatened by clearfell logging) will be included within a National Park. These values include Rainforest Sites of Significance, waterfalls, Heritage Rivers, natural landscapes, Geological and Geomorphic Sites of Significance, Tiger Quoll habitat etc.
VEAC also recommends putting most of the Otway forested public land into two land type categories "National Park" and "Forest Park".
Under the VEAC draft proposals there will no longer be land classified as State Forest in the Otways. The primary use for State Forests is for timber production. However the Victorian State Government policy to permanently end logging means there is no point having the State Forest land category. Instead any public land that is not National Park will be in a Forest Park.
The Forest Park will primarily exist for nature conservation and recreational activities such as 4WD, motorbikes and horse riding. VEAC are proposing that there will also be limited resource extraction in Forest Parks such as firewood collection, fence posts and poles etc.
VEAC released a total of three reports. The first two reports, being a Discussion Paper and Draft Proposals Paper. To see these reports, download from the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) website: www.veac.vic.gov.au.
OREN's comments on the Discussion Paper can be download from http://www.oren.org.au/veac/OREN2ndsubmissiontoVEAC.pdf (2M pdf file).
What is the difference between the Draft Proposals and Final Recommendations?
West Barwon Catchment
The entire West Barwon catchment, domestic water supply for Geelong has now been included within the National Park (additional 3,906 ha) . This is largely a recognition of both the nature conservation values of the West Barwon and the fact the areas is critically strategic part of the Geelong domestic water supply system.
Arkins Creek/Link Track Area
The entire Arkins creek catchment combined with the Link track area has now been added to the National Park.(additional 1,325 ha). Arkins creek catchment is essentially undisturbed except for water extraction in the headwaters for Warrnambool. Forest at Link Track provides a critical wildlife corridor between the existing Carlisle State Park(to be included as National Park) and the rest of the Otway public forested land to become National Park.
Significant parcels of forested public land in the far western Otways at Yuulong and Bryant creek will also be included within the new National Park.
The Forest Park area gained in some places and was reduced in others to accommodated the additional areas listed above. Overall the Forest park area was reduced by about 8500 ha between the draft and final recommendations to become 39,265 ha in size.
Over 2,200 ha of area recommended as National Park in the draft as been re-allocated to Forest Park in the final recommendations. The largest of these areas was 1,922 ha in the northern section of the Barongarook forest.
Nature conservation reserves
The total areas of Nature conservation reserves is about 5000 ha. This area includes the significant Jancourt Nature Conservation Reserve and the Coradjil Nature Conservation Reserve These Nature Conservation reserves are remnant vegetation that was left over from the Heytesbury Land Settlement scheme where 43,500 ha of forest was cleared for dairy farms between 1957 and 1970.
Areas highlighted in red are areas included in the Final Recommendations.
Southern Face of the Otways
The existing Angahook-Lorne State Park has been added to the proposed Otway National Park.
All the State Forest in the headwaters of many catchments on the southern face of the Otways has been added to the proposed Otway National Park. These catchments include:
Geelong Catchment Area
State Forest within the Geelong catchments are on the northern slopes of the Otways.
The existing Carlisle State Park has been incuded within the new expanded Otways National Park
Nature Conservation ReservesThe entire Jancourt State forest (most significant remnant of the Heytestbury Land settlement scheme) will be added to the existing Carpendeit Flora and Fauna Reserve to make the new Jancourt nature conservation reserve.
The Coradjil Nature Conservation Reserve which was an existing reserve will formally become a Nature Conservation Reserve.
The woodchip and logging industries have a campaign to stop the expansion of the Otway National Park and convince the government that logging should continue. A group called 'Our Parks' is opposing an expanded Otway National Park. Our Parks had its first meeting on the 20th March 2003. Some farmers who attended believed their land will be taken away from them for the National Park. Attitudes like this raise questions as to what lies and other scare tactics are being used to get local people to oppose the idea of an expanded Otway National Park.
Supporters of logging argue that a new national park will lock out the public. However it is fact the logging industry wants to exclude all public access to state forest. This occurred with legislation passed under the Kennett State Liberal government that created the Forest Operation Zones which sought to exclude public access from the Otway State forest.
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