Box-Ironbark Forests

To: <>
Subject: Box-Ironbark Forests
From: "Stuart Cooney" <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 21:53:33 +1100
Dear Mr Ingram,
I heard you expressing your opposition to the proposed Box-Ironbark forest protection plan that is due to come before parliament presently on the radio today.  While I agree with one of the central tenants of your argument; that the new parks need to be properly resourced, this is no reason to reject the bill out of hand.
I spend a lot of time in the forests of Rushworth, Chiltern, Whipstick and Mt Black bird watching and hiking.  These areas support a wide range of bird species, many of which are not found in southern Victoria.  The box-ironbark community represents 50 species of threatened animal.  Some of these animals rely on large, hollow bearing trees, extensive ground litter and outbreaks of pollen, among other things.  The industries that have been allowed to continue in the forests, such as apiary, eucalyptus oil production, timber collection and mining threaten these habitats.  On the other hand protection of these resources would encourage me to visit these areas to watch birds, or camp in National Parks, spending money in the nearby towns.  I am particularly concerned that the protection to box-ironbark woodlands do not do enough to protect Regent Parrot, Mallee Fowl, Powerful Owl, Barking Owl, Swift Parrots, and Grey Crowned Babbler, all of which are threatened in Victoria.
With 83% of the Box-Ironbark forest assemblage in Victoria already lost, this report provides what may be the last opportunity to fully protect this once extensive ecosystem.  The community has shown support for achieving the JANIS targets in the area and fragmentation, with the effect of creating small ?island populations?, is a further risk to the long term survival of many of the assemblages of plants and animals.
Just today I enjoyed some of the protected areas in your electorate, enjoying a rewarding couple of hours bird-watching at Fairy Dell, between Bruthen and Bairnsdale, where one can see the eastern most extension of birds like the Black-faced Monarch and Scarlet Honeyeater, and stopping off at Lake Guyatt in Sale to look for only the 4th or 5th record of a Wandering Whistling Duck that has been seen there over the last couple of months.  It would be a shame not to protect similar habitat in other areas of the state and it would be infuriating if our natural heritage was sacrificed to appease a small but vocal lobby groups who run largely unprofitable extractive businesses in these forests.
I urge you in the strongest terms to support this bill and look forward to your reply,
Yours Faithfully,
Stuart Cooney
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