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VFA citizen science team surveys on unceded Brabralung Country in planned burn areas

Beautiful forests on Brabralung Country near the planned burn areaOur fantastic team of citizen scientists recently worked with Gippsland Environment Group (GEG) and Friends of Bats and Habitat Gippsland to survey in forests on First Nations Brabralung Country in Mt Alfred, part of the Gunnai Kurnai Nation. The team conducted habitat tree surveying during the day, recording a number of hollow-bearing trees, which can be terribly impacted by planned burns. Then at night, nocturnal spotlighting surveys discovered new records of greater gliders, yellow-bellied gliders, and the incredibly cute, long-nosed bandicoot.

The surveys were conducted in and adjacent to the planned burn area, which runs right up to the border of the Mitchell River National Park. A huge area of forest in Mt Alfred is set to be burned next year, which would have terrible consequences for the wildlife found there last week. Thanks so much to Gippsland Environment Group and Friends of Bats for your advocacy and work to protect this special area.

One of our member groups, Save Our Strathbogies forest, is currently taking legal action to halt planned burns in the Strathbogie Ranges. The group says;

Countless thousands of big, old hollow-bearing trees, essential for Greater Glider survival, are burnt every year in the name of fire management. Planned burning is about repetition, so after each burn there are fewer hollow-bearing trees left, fewer places for the Gliders to live and breed. The flames, smoke and heat of these burns also pose an immediate threat to the Gliders’ survival. Gliders that are still alive after the burns then face the additional threats of poor nutrition, subsequent tree collapse and degraded habitat.Endangered greater glider recorded in the scheduled burn area

The group say if the case is successful, it could mean other areas where gliders are found might also be protected from industrial burns. Read more about the case here and donate to help cover the legal costs - every bit counts!

Another one of our members, Kinglake Friends of the Forest, have also launched an online petition calling for an end to broadscale industrial planned burns. They say;

Each year, thousands of hectares of forest and bushland some distance from townships are deliberately burned in an attempt to mitigate bushfire risk. This broadscale burning of forests pours vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, kills wildlife and destroys habitat, causes significant deterioration in air quality, and poisons our waterways. Yet evidence shows that this approach is not only damaging to the climate, human health, and the environment but is also ineffective in reducing bushfire risk.

Worse, studies have shown that the flush of shrubs that follows a prescribed burn can mean increased fire risk and severity that starts in the following two to ten years and continues for decades to come.

You can take action by signing their online petition to end industrial burning in Victoria



MEDIA RELEASE: Rare mountain plant find at odds with state agency logging plans

Joint media release: Victorian National Parks Association, Victorian Forest Alliance, Friends of Mount Stirling

Community nature groups are urging VicForests to ditch plans to log Mount Stirling’s sub-alpine forests following the discovery of rare endangered native plants.

Surveyors from the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) and the Victorian Forest Alliance (VFA) uncovered the endangered populations of the Lilac Bitter-cress, Fringed Rice-flower, Hairy Eyebright, Ovens Everlasting and Mountain Grevillea.

“Our findings show once again that VicForests has no clue what plants are present before logging,” VFA’s Chris Schuringa said.

“A landmark judgement handed down by the Supreme Court last year confirmed VicForests is breaking the law by not surveying properly yet here they are again thumbing their nose at the law.”

Charles Street from Friends of Mount Stirling said the forests’ diverse mix of Alpine Ash, Mountain Gum, and Snow Gum must be protected.Rare Fringed Rice-flower (Pimelea ligustrina ssp. Cliliata)

“These forests are already vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and bushfires – adding chainsaws and bulldozers into the mix would be all the more devastating,” Mr Street said.

“The mountainous forests of Mount Stirling are part of a complex ecosystem - damage one part and the others suffer. The habitat areas around Mount Stirling must be protected." 

The VNPA, VFA, and Friends of Mount Stirling have written to Environment Minister Ingrid Stitt, calling for her to scrap the logging plans.

Despite the state government’s plan to end native forest logging in the east by early 2024, many areas remain under threat. Lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia recently filed an ACCC complaint on behalf of the VFA, asking for an investigation into VicForests’ misleading sustainability claims. 

“VicForests can’t be trusted and should be entirely wound up by 1st January 2024 - the Andrews Government’s proposed end date to logging. These forests need lasting protections, not more destruction,” VNPA’s Matt Ruchel said.

“Native logging may well end in the east in a few months but it looks like it will continue in Western Victoria and other areas under different names, licences and damaging ‘fire management’ practices.

“It’s impossible to justify destroying these landscapes any longer – these forests are worth so much more standing.”


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Contact Chris Schuringa at [email protected] for further comment


VFA citizen science team protecting forests under threat from logging

Our passionate crew of citizen scientists, along with folks from Wildlife of the Central Highlands, have had a jam packed couple of week despite the cold weather. We've been documenting big, beautiful habitat trees in the Toolangi State Forest on Wurrundjeri and Taungurung Country. These special places are critical for the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum.Coast Grey-box (Eucalyptus bosistoana)

These fairy possums (Wollert in Wurrundjeri language) have also been spotted recently in the forest. They're lightening fast and often hard to catch on camera, but surveyors are well practiced at recording these critters. Leadbeater's possum get a small protection buffer from logging, but hardly enough to conserve the species.

That's why the end to native forest logging in eastern Victoria is so long overdue. 

Long-flowered Beard-heath (Styphelia sieberi)A small crew also visited forests in the Colquhoun on Brabawooloong Country (part of the Gunnai Kurnai Nation) to survey for threatened plants. The team found a significant population of Long-flowered Beard-heath (Styphelia sieberi), as well as Coast Grey-box (Eucalyptus bosistoana), and Cobra Greenhoods (Pterostylis grandiflora). They also did some nocturnal surveys finding yellow-bellied glider, and even a feed tree.

We'll be preparing reports for government department, and continuing our vital work protecting forests through flora and fauna detection.

Citizen science will be crucial in the coming months before logging is phased out after January 1 2024, and there are still plenty of areas still under threat from logging in western Victoria beyond that date. You can be a part of this important work by donating to the Victorian Forest Alliance.




VFA surveyors find threatened plant and animal species in Mullundung

Fringed Helmet-orchid (Corybas fimbriatus)Last week the VFA survey team went out to the incredible Plains Grassy Forests at Mullungdung, a unique and special area in South Gippsland near Darriman on Brataualung Clan Country of the Gunnai Kurnai nation to survey for threatened plants and animals. It was a very successful trip with lots of threatened species’ detections.Cobra Greenhood (Pterostylis grandiflora)

The team found and recorded a number of rare orchids including Green-striped Leafy Greenhood (Pterostylis chlorogramma), Fringed Helmet-orchid (Corybas fimbriatus), and a significant number of Cobra Greenhood (Pterostylis grandiflora). They also found Coast Grey-box (Eucalyptus bosistoana), a eucalypt species which is meant to be excluded from logging. 

During the day the team heard and saw endangered Gang-gang cockatoos who are using this forest area and rely on hollow-bearing tree for nesting, many of which were observed in the area planned for logging. 

Along with day-time flora surveys the team also conducted some nocturnal spotlighting, and found koalas, and 21 greater gliders across areas scheduled for logging. The Mullungdung forests are rich in biodiversity, and a refuge area for wildlife in a largely cleared agricultural area.

The detections will be reported to VicForests, the Environment Department, and submitted to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, to ensure these precious forests are protected from the threats of logging.

Coast Grey-box (Eucalyptus bosistoana)There are many more things to look for in the area, and more orchids to find which weren’t flowering at the time. 

We worked closely with our member group Friends of Alberton West Forest to coordinate these surveys, and were kindly hosted by one of their volunteers. Friends of Alberton West Forests has been campaigning for protection of forests in South Gippsland and have even taken legal action against VicForests to halt logging in the area.Surveyors recording locations of Cobra Greenhoods

Our citizen science program is doing valuable work supporting local community groups with a team of dedicated, knowledgeable surveyors, to assist in local campaigns to find and detect protect threatened species. 

Right now, our on the ground work in the forests is more important than ever. We know citizen science is critical, and often the last line of defence to protect these special places.

Please make a tax-deductible donation this end of financial year, so we can continue this vital work. 





VFA survey team heads back to Mount Stirling

Last week the VFA survey team headed back out to the magical forests in Mount Stirling on Taungurung Country to look for threatened flora species in areas scheduled for logging. They found (for all you plant nerds out there) Cardomine lillacena, Pimelea ligustrina ssp. Cliliata, Euphrasia lasianthera, and Grevillea victoriae. A number of these threatened plants were found across the coupes surveyed by the team.

The forests around Mount Stirling are a diverse mix of Alpine Ash, Mountain Gum and Snow Gum. The team enjoyed some beautiful sunny days in the region, and thanks to their hard work hopefully some of the areas will be protected from logging.

Friends of Mount Stirling, Victorian National Parks Association, and Friends of the Earth Melbourne are some of the groups working in the area to campaign for the permanent protection of these forests.

Citizen science is just one of the ways we can do this. For those interested in getting involved we've got a community event and surveying trip planned for May 20 and 21st out in the Nunniong forests - another incredible special area with unique flora species we'll be searching for.

We'll be doing plant walks, forest talks, and more with folks from Gippsland Environment Group and Friends of Bats and Habitat Gippsland.

RSVP is essential and places are limited. Head here to secure your spot

Citizen science events in Wombat bring community together for moths and gliders

Endangered greater gliderWe had a fantastic time over the weekend with two of our members, Wombat Forestcare, and Wombat Action Group (WAG). On Saturday night WAG organised a community spotlighting event, where thirty people came out to do some nocturnal spotlighting for wildlife in forests scheduled for logging in the Wombat State Forest.

Across three groups we saw over ten Greater Gliders, four Koalas, feather-tail gliders and sugar gliders in forests still scheduled for logging. It was a still, crisp, clear evening. Thanks so much to Wombat Action Group for leading the groups and to all our enthusiastic volunteers and spotlighters. There was lots of excitement from all the folks attending, many who were seeing a greater glider for the first time. A magical experience - keep in touch with Wombat Action Group for more upcoming spotlighting events. If you weren't able to make it on the weekend, not to worry! We have heaps of upcoming events in the forest being run by our member groups.

Then on Sunday, Wombat Forestcare hosted a special event at the Trentham Neighbourhood house with ecologist and INaturalist expert Peter Crowcroft. Folks in attendance heard from Peter of his wonderful adventures collecting observations of different species on the much loved app, sharing his knowledge of its functions and in the evening, led a moth spotting workshop. 

Later in the evening, folks gathered in the darkness at Trentham falls, awaiting patiently for some positively phototaxis night time critters to visit the glowing lights and white sheets. Even though it was quite cold and moths are beginning to drop in numbers this time of year, there was plenty of excitement over the few visitors that did arrive including a primitive cicada. 

It was a fantastic afternoon where many went away with a new invigoration for bio blitzing and collecting inaturalist data adding to a globally significant database of nature observations. Keep in touch with Wombat Forestcare for more ways to get involved with their long and ongoing campaign to protect the Wombat State Forest from logging.

These events took place on the unceded lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung First Nations peoples. Sovereignty was never ceded and we pay our deepest respects to their Elders past and present.


VFA surveyors head to the Alpine regions!

The warm summer months have been a great opportunity for the VFA survey team to get out into the Alpine regions, with trips to Mount Stirling on Taungurung Country late last year, and recently a very successful trip to the Little Dargo on Brabuwooloong country. At Mount Stirling the team surveyed for rare flora during the day, and did some spotlighting for greater gliders and yellow-bellied gliders at night.Snow gums on the Dargo High plains

Mount Stirling has a number of coupes adjacent and close to the Alpine National Park. The forests are mostly older Alpine Ash and Mountain grey gum, with some peppermint and mixed species forests scattered throughout. Friends of Mount Stirling and the Victorian National Parks Association have been campaigning for many years for the protection of this area from logging.

Read more about the campaign to protect Mount Stirling on the VNPA website here.

Then a few weekends ago the team headed to the Dargo High plains on Brabuwooloong country to survey for rare Mountain Leafless Bossiaea (Bossiaea bracteosa) in pristine forests scheduled for logging. Mountain Leafless Bossiaea (Bossiaea bracteosa) in flower

The bossiaea is a threatened plant which is protected from logging by a 200m exclusion zone. Our surveyors found large populations across several coupes, confirming that these areas must be protected from logging. The forests are home to rare plants and animals like the spotted and alpine tree frogs, and masked owl. 

VFA member groups Save the Little Dargo and Friends of Bats and Habitat have been campaigning for protection of the area, along with support from Friends of the Earth who have run a number of guided walks across the plains, and into the incredible old growth Alpine Ash forests, and down the steep hill to the Little Dargo River.Surveyors marking locations of Mountain Leafless Bossiaea

Head here for more information on the Save the Little Dargo campaign and how you can get involved

A huge thank you to the work of our member groups, and our dedicated team of citizen scientists who carry out this vital work to protect native forests from logging. We are so grateful for all you do!


Citizen science program heads to Swifts Creek!

In between the madness of state election organising, our citizen science team has been hard at work surveying for threatened and endangered wildlife in forests scheduled for logging. A few weeks ago folks visited the incredible forests of Mt Delusion and Mt Baldhead near Swifts Creek on Gunnai Kurnai Country. 

It was a great trip with the crew finding plenty of endangered greater gliders. While the Gippsland Environment Group court case continues any areas with gliders found are temporarily protected by the case. On top of gliders, surveyors also found an abandoned emu egg and beautiful bird orchids!

Just after the trip we celebrated the incredible results from the Environment East Gippsland and Kinglake Friends of the Forest, who WON their cases against VicForests, giving the greater glider and yellow-bellied glider much better protections from logging.

It shouldn't be up to community groups and citizen scientists to do this work, but until we see an immediate end to logging, our program will continue to survey for and protect these species, including the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum. 

A huge thanks to Gippsland Environment Group and Friends of Bats and Habitat who we work closely with to survey these areas. See you in the forests very soon!



Citizen scientists find 60 endangered Greater Gliders in mass survey effort across Victoria!

Last night 66 citizen scientists from community groups across Victoria took part in a coordinated big night of surveying for endangered Greater Gliders. Surveys were carried out over 12 areas scheduled for logging, across 6 locations from Toolangi, Black Range near Taggerty, Warburton in the Central Highlands, Alberton West in Gippsland, Colquhoun State Forest in East Gippsland, and Wombat State Forest in the Central West.

60 Greater Gliders were found across the state! Many of these areas will now be temporarily protected by the Kinglake Friends of Forest, Environment East Gippsland and Gippsland Environment Group court case.

President of Kinglake Friends of the Forest, Sue McKinnon, says: “The abundance of gliders found by citizen scientists last night is evidence of the disturbing reality: Greater Gliders and VicForests want the same forests, the few left with big, old trees.”

“This is a massive community effort to protect our native wildlife from extinction. It is shocking that this work is left up to community members. Making sure that endangered species habitat isn’t logged should be the job of government.”

Lisa Roberts from Friends of Bats and Habitat Gippsland said; "We love going out night surveying for Greater Gliders. It's extraordinarily beautiful in the bush at night under bright stars and a moon (even in the cold). We look for eye shine in the night and it's super exciting when we find them!"

"We go out at night surveying for threatened fauna because we're trying to stop logging. It's totally heartbreaking to see bush that we've walked in smashed and clear-felled. Even in the night, logged forest lets in the light, we can see the light of a smashed logged forest from a long way away. Under the canopy of an old intact forest, you only get glimpses of the moon and stars beyond the trees."

The state government does not conduct its own surveys for endangered species before approving logging to go ahead in areas across Victoria. Even when endangered species are found, most receive little or no protection from logging under state laws. Native forest logging is exempt from Federal Environment Laws under so-called “Regional Forest Agreements”. Due to a current court case against state logging agency VicForests, run by community groups Kinglake Friends of the Forest, Environment East Gippsland, and Gippsland Environment Group, confirmed detections of Greater Gliders currently trigger the protection of the forest in which they are found.

The community groups allege that the government logging agency does not survey adequately for Greater Gliders or properly protect them. Expert witness for the community groups, Professor Grant Wardell-Johnson stated in court that Greater Gliders in logging coupes are likely to be dead soon after the logging operation, in some cases from starvation or predation. In July the Greater Glider was uplisted to endangered. Logging of its habitat has been highlighted as a major contributor to an 80% decline of Greater Glider populations over the last 20 years.

The state government has recently passed new laws that will see harsh penalties for people protesting logging operations as well as citizen scientists surveying in forests scheduled for logging.

Natalie Hogan, lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia, says: “The new laws will not only affect forest protectors engaged in legitimate political expression; they also put the critical role of our citizen scientists in jeopardy as they too face harsh and disproportionate penalties for entering logging coupes to survey for wildlife.”

“Citizen scientists, conservationists, environment groups and members of the community who conduct wildlife surveys play a vital role in collating data for Victoria’s Biodiversity Atlas. The observations collated in the Atlas are crucial for government decision-making – showing where wildlife is now and how this has changed over time.”

“Our vital ecosystems are currently facing increasing threats from logging and climate change, all in the wake of devastating bushfires, and citizen science is more important than ever.”

Contact Kinglake Friends of the Forest for media quotes


Citizen scientists find rare Colquhoun Grevillea in forests scheduled for logging

The VFA citizen science program made another trip out to East Gippsland last week, this time to visit the Colquhoun state forest on Gunnai Kurnai Country. Surveyors found endangered Greater Glider, more significant populations of Long-flower Beard-heath (Styphelia sieberi), large stands of the critically endangered Glossy Black Cockatoo feed trees Black She-oak (Allocasuarina littoralis), and Colquhoun Grevillea (Grevillea celata) which is only found in this small patch of forest in the Colquhoun.

Sadly, logging machinery has moved into one of the areas surveyed. VFA member Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) worked with the Age to expose logging in the area - known to be important habitat for the now endangered Greater Glider.

The Colquhoun is an important area for rare plant species like the Grevillea, and is one of the few places in East Gippsland which wasn't impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires. Particularly for the Glossy Black Cockatoo it's an important feeding area, these incredible birds feed exclusively on the nuts of Black She-oak trees.

The federal government recently listed the Glossy Black Cockatoo as vulnerable under federal law. Yet in Victoria the species is listed as critically endangered, and their important remaining habitat and feed trees are still being logged in East Gippsland.

Under the devastating 'Regional Forest Agreements' logging gets a special exemption from national environment laws. You can take action and email Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to call on these dodgy agreements to be scrapped!


Citizen scientists measure and record Black She-oaks Rare Colquhoun Grevillea found only in the Colquhoun Large She-oak found in forests scheduled for logging