Victorian Environmental Assessment Council releases report calling for Wombat Forest expansion

The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s Central West Investigation was released last week and included recommendations to expand the Wombat State Forest.  

The investigation analysed the condition, value and uses of public land in the central west of Victoria, including the Wombat State Forest. 

Victorian National Parks Association executive director  Matt Ruchel said that, if implemented, the additions would address a number of significant gaps in Victoria’s national parks and conservation estate. 

“If the draft recommendations are implemented for new national parks and conservation areas, it will not only be a boon for threatened species and their habitats, but also a draw card for tourism and recreation in central Victoria,” he said. 

One of the key recommendations was to increase Wombat Forest by 28,692 hectares to create a new Wombat-Lerderberg National Park as well as creating a new regional park located in two parts.

Wombat Forest has had significant additions, with an increase in size of 28,692 hectares, making a new Wombat-Lerderderg National Park, and a new regional park located in two parts, totalling 9,149 hectares.

Convener of Wombat Forestcare, Gayle Osborne, said Wombat Forestcare Inc. welcomed the draft recommendations.

Photo: Lachlan Bence

Photo: Lachlan Bence

“This is good news for the Wombat Forest’s many threatened species, such as Powerful Owls and Greater Gliders,” she said.

“The Wombat Forest is an important refuge for many endangered and vulnerable flora and fauna species including the endemic Wombat Leafless Bossiaea (Bossiaea vombata). The only place on the planet where this plant is found is at a few locations in the Wombat Forest.”

She said there were also two extremely important fungi species that are only known to be found in the forest, including the Earpick Fungus (Auriscalpium sp), found only in one location. 

Additionally, the recommendations would provide increased water supply security for the headwaters of six major rivers which rise in the forest; the Loddon, Campaspe and Coliban flowing north and the Lerderderg, Werribee and Moorabool flowing south.

Ms Osborne said Wombat Forestcare members had been particularly concerned of a return of industrial logging in the forest with the protection of a park structure. 

“Under this proposal sawlog harvesting would not be permitted, with domestic firewood collection allowed in the new regional park.”

The draft report is open for public comment until October 31 before the state government considers the  final report recommendations in March 2019.