A forest a day! July 23: CM004C, Catamaran
A forest a day #22: Logging coupe CM004C, Catamaran
Image by Emma Capp
In far south Tasmania, a World Heritage bordering forest, known to Forestry Tasmania as logging coupe CM004C, was left out of the Conservation Agreement and subsequently logged.
This forest area was tall eucalyptus forest, core habitat for the grey goshawk, masked owl, spotted tailed quoll. The forest was potential habitat for cave dwelling invertebrates, as the logging site is a steep, high erodibility area, with a karst system down slope from the operation.[i] The Forest Practices Plan provided by Forestry Tasmania states that the new 1.4km road that was needed to access the 57 ha coupe is located in a karst catchment. Glacial deposits and possible fossils related to the Jurassic Basalt, which form the upper parts of the northern hill of the coupe, are major geomorphic considerations.[ii]
The key company driving the logging in these high conservation value forests was Ta Ann.[iii] Logging in this coupe commenced after Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Lara Giddings announced that the Inter-Governmental Agreement in August 2011 would provide ‘immediate protection in informal reserves’ for forests such as these. CM004C is located within the 572 000ha of identified forests for legislated protection.
These world heritage value forests are located behind Recherche Bay and south of the D’Entrecasteaux River, this forested region is Australia’s southern most forested lands.
Image by Emma Capp
The eucalypt forests in the region south of the D’Entrecasteaux River to Cockle Creek include some of the most southerly tracts of eucalypt forest in Australia, indeed the world. The natural diversity of this small forest complex is at the southern latitudinal limits of the Australian eucalypt and rainforest flora and fauna. The globally significant eucalypts here can be expected to be of enduring scientific interest, especially given the historic research conducted by the French scientists in the 18th century. The eucalypt forests of the Recherche area would contribute to the ecological integrity of the adjoining Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) by preserving the natural vegetation sequence from sea level to tree limit on Mount La Perouse. This is particularly important for maintaining vegetation conditions conducive to natural fire interaction with the vegetation, especially on foothills and escarpment of the existing TWWHA. The eucalypt forests of this narrow lowland corridor are an integral part of a still existing natural connectivity of tall eucalypt communities, which extends up the eastern side (mostly outside) of the TWWHA, an important element in the long-term conservation of this ecosystem.[iv]
They remain unprotected, due to an “illogical and unsustainable boundary”.[v] The adjacent section of the TWWHA incorporates only a disjunct series of remnant tall eucalypt forest, the greater part of the otherwise continuous tract of tall eucalypt forest being located just outside the TWWHA boundary, an artifact of the drawing of the original protected area boundary which excluded the commercially important tall eucalypt forests. The ENGO-proposed reserves include the main corridor of tall eucalypt forest otherwise excluded from this section of the TWWHA. This corridor of tall eucalypt forest is relevant to the concept outlined elsewhere for protection—within the TWWHA—of a regional-scale tall eucalypt corridor from Cockle Creek to central Tasmania as a means of ensuring regional connectivity for the globally significant tall eucalypt ecosystems in Tasmania.[vi]
Recent reports that have verified the values of this forest region have stated that, “given the gross under representation of the ecological diversity of tall eucalypt forest in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, there is a clear case to remedy that situation. The tall eucalypt forests in the lowlands of the Recherche Bay–D’Entrecasteaux coast potentially represents a significant contribution to the ecological integrity of the TWWHA (southern limit, alpine summit to sea sequence on one slope—The ‘French transect’—Mount La Perouse to Recherche Bay]. This area provides the best opportunity to capture the full range of elevation values in the TWWHA—of significant benefit to the ecological function and integrity of the TWWHA and particularly important to assist adaptation to climate change. [vii]
Protection of this southern coastal precinct of Tasmania would link up the World Heritage Area, Southport Lagoon Conservation Area and the National Heritage listed Recherche Bay area. The cultural heritage value of the Recherche Bay area would make a significant contribution to the integrity of the TWWHA.[viii]
Notwithstanding a significant amount of past disturbance within the assessed area caused by coupe-based logging, the longer term view is that natural rehabilitation can be expected to progressively eliminate both the direct and indirect impacts of those logged coupes. The assessed area comprises mostly coastal lowland rising inland to foothills, and is predominantly
forested with significant areas of tall eucalypt forest. The Recherche Bay region has historic significance for the discovery and first formal description of the eucalypts of the world. The first eucalypts collected for science were from the region and the first eucalypt officially described also came from the region (Bruny Island).[ix]
Pro logging industry supporters and Ta Ann have, in the past months, tried to question the conservation values of CM004C. However the facts are that some minor disturbance occurred in the region in the start of last century. These disturbances however were negligible compared to the current forms of industrial scale clearfelling. The forests of CM004C were unroaded until 2011 and the verified values of the remaining threatened tall eucalypt forests in this region, that are part of a remote tract of wilderness area with world heritage values, require urgent protection from ongoing logging.
CLICK HERE to take action now for the magnificent forests of the Catamaran and other high conservation value forests across Tasmania.
For more information about the ‘A forest a day’ project, which is a collaboration between Huon Valley Environment Centre, Still Wild Still Threatened, The Last Stand, Markets for Change and Code Green, please click HERE.
[i] Forestry Tasmania Forest Practices Plan for CM004C 02/03/2011
[iii] Hoffmann, O. & Williams, D. Report Of Independent Expert Schedulers Appointed Under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement, 12th October 2011
[iv] Hitchcock, P, (2012) Verification of the Heritage Value of the ENGO-Proposed Reserves, IVG Forest Conservation Report 5A. P58
[v] Ibid, P54
[vi] Ibid, P56
[vii] Ibid, P57
[viii] Ibid, P60
[ix] Ibid, P55