Otway Ranges Environment Network



Print This Page

West RFA Reserve System

Comprehensive Adequate Representative(CAR) reserve system

With the signing of the West RFA , a new reserve system was implemented within the Otways State forest called the Comprehensive Adequate Representative(CAR) reserve system. Link

The CAR reserve system on paper is meant to protect all biodiversity values in the Otways from logging practices based on best scientific information. However if scientific research into the impact logging has on other forest values is not done then decreased levels of protection are what occur.

The CAR reserve system has three land use zones. They are:

No pre-logging Flora and Fauna surveys

Only the flora and fauna within the CAR reserve systems will be protected. All flora and fauna outside the CAR reserve system will be destroyed by intensive logging practices. There is no plan to do public pre-logging flora and fauna surveys to determine what endangered species may be lost or put at risk during logging operations.

CAR Reserve system lacks scientific credibility.

The Design of CAR reserve system can best be summed up as being incomplete and poorly designed. A major reason for the poor design is a lack of scientific research of Otway biodiversity values.

All Victorian RFA's including the West RFA recognise the completion of Action Statements as being the foundation in providing management strategies to protect endanger species from logging practices. (See Section 48,55,56 57 58,59 and Attachment 2, West RFA.)

The failure to complete Action Statements means the CAR Reserve System is based on poor and insufficient information. The public will not accept a twenty year plan to continue logging that is based on a poor understanding of the impacts logging has on threatened species.

The releasing of biodiversity research is needed to develop public knowledge and opinion. Informed public opinion encourages the Government to fund further research and make informed management decisions.

It is the strong view of OREN members that research is suppressed by Forestry Victoria to hide the damage logging practices have on Otway biodiversity values. Case studies that demonstrate the failure of DNRE to release research and management recommendations include:

  • the suppression of research. Link
  • the failure to complete action statements as required by the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. Link
  • and failure to protect Rainforest Sites of Significance. Link

Special Protection Zones (SPZ)

Otway SPZ's are reserves where logging is not permitted. In the Otways the SPZ reserves consist of land already recognised under the Otway Forest Management Plan and areas already excluded from logging under the Code of Forest Practices. Some additional SPZ reserves have been added due to the recorded presence of Tiger Quolls.

Existing Otway SPZ's have a high proportion of heathland, non commercial timber species and already logged areas. Only a small proportion of tall mountain forests(wet) are protected in permanent reserves and SPZ's.

SPZ,s are temporary reserves

SPZ are not legally gazetted reserves covered by the Crown Lands Reserves Act. An SPZ can be revoked and made available for logging at any time by the State government Minister. For example, SPZ at Hensleigh creek in East Gippsland has already been rezoned for logging in East Gippsland.

As far as the native forest logging industry is concerned, the reserve systems established under the West RFA process sets the maximum extent biodiversity values will be protected in the Otways no matter what further research or discoveries are made.

If new conservation values are found in areas available for logging that merit protection, that area can be made an SPZ but must be swapped with another SPZ so there is no net loss in log resource.

Recent debate in State parliament by opposition parties(12/6/02) indicates if they were elected then re-zoning of SPZ areas for logging when pressured by the native forest logging industry would be a regular occurrence. See State government hansard.

Special Management Zones (SMZ)

An SMZ is an area with special values that gets extra consideration before logging is permitted. There are nine SMZ regions in the Otways. The main consideration in allocating SMZ's has been the presence of Tiger Quolls.

Some Otway SMZ maps.

Note: Not all Otway SMZ maps are shown here.

Riley's Ridge / East Barham River area

Cumberland River

Smyth creek/Carisbrook creek area

'Special Management Zone' Plans

The West Regional Forest Agreement, Discussion Paper recommends SMZ Plans(See page 48 Table 3.4 Consultation Paper) but this recommendation was dropped from the final West RFA documentation. Despite this, Forestry Victoria have indicated SMZ plans will be put together after the Tiger Quoll Action Statement is completed. Before an SMZ can be logged, an SMZ plan needs to be drawn up that will provide prescriptions to protect endangered species such as Tiger Quolls. See Tiger Quoll SMZ plans.

It is unknown if SMZ plans will be completed for each SMZ. It is also unknown if any public participation will be allowed to influence the design of SMZ prescriptions

Public Pressure resulted in more Otways SMZ.

When the draft West RFA was released, there were only four SMZ areas in the Otways. Public pressure increased the number of SMZs by five to a total of nine. At least three of the additional SMZ were created by the controversy created by the suppression of a report about the significance of the the tiger quoll (Link) and the constant press articles in the Age about the endangered status of the quoll. Community protests against logging in the Cumberland river catchment and at Riley's Ridge enabled those areas to be also placed within an SMZ.

Logging on Hold in Otway SMZ's

Since March 2000 after the signing the West RFA there has been no clearfell logging in Otways SMZ's. There is no logging planned until 2003/2004 logging season. The delays are due to:

  • Ongoing community vigilance

  • Delays in finalising the revised Tiger Quoll Action Statement

  • Tiger Quoll SMZs plans on hold until the release of the revised Tiger Quoll Action Statement

West RFA protected a small amount of wet mountain forest

The West RFA did an analysis of vegetation classes and listed the percentages of wet forests that would be protected within permanent reserves (wet forest and shrubby wet forests).

There was originally about 90,000 ha of wet mountain forests in the Otways. Of this 20% has been cleared after European settlement and converted to pasture or plantations. Of the remaining wet forests, only 21% is within permanent legislated reserves(or 16.6% relative to pre-European settlement). Almost 50% of remaining wet forests are directly available for logging on public land for which much has already been clearfell logged. About 20% of remnant wet forests is on private land. A high proportion of private wet forest is subject to unsustainable levels of logging by local sawmills.

About half of the wet forests within the Otway National Park were clearfell logged before logging was halted in 1985. According to the West RFA Discussion Paper (Page 43) there is 46 square kilometres of cleared and several disturbed land within existing legislated conservation reserves that would otherwise be wet forest.


Don't know the meaning of a word? Check the glossary.