Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Tree thinning plan skepticism

Resources used to conduct a trial of red gum thinning in Barmah National Park would be better spent tackling pests, a Victorian conservation group says.

JARROD WHITTAKER February 28, 2014 6:01am

A red gum thinning trial is being proposed for Barmah National Park.

The Victorian National Parks Association has expressed concerns about a proposed trial of red gum thinning in Barmah National Park.

On Wednesday, the Victorian Government called for submissions on the proposal.

If the Federal Government approves it, a trial will be implemented this year.

Ecological thinning is the process of reducing the number of trees in an area to reduce forest density and competition for nutrients and water.

The government is doing the trial following a recommendation from the Victorian Environment Assessment Council.

However, VNPA red gum and river rescue project co-ordinator Nick Roberts said the recommendation was based on drought-stressed red gums.

‘‘The Barmah National Park has been subjected to significant flooding in the past three years,’’ Mr Roberts said.

‘‘There are massive areas of drought stressed red gum state forest available for a trial in state forests around Gunbower.’’

He said staff and resources in the national park would be better spent tackling pest plants and animals.

‘‘This trial uses commercial forestry prescriptions, commercial logging machinery and logging of large trees, all in a national park which is highly inappropriate,’’ Mr Roberts said.

The trial will be done in conjunction with the NSW Government and is part of a Federal Government review.

Department of Environment and Primary Industries land management director Peter Beaumont said the trial would have long-term benefits.

‘‘Under climate change predictions, there is a likelihood of more frequent and intense droughts,’’ Mr Beaumont said.

‘‘Reducing tree density is a management tool for improving the long term health of river red gum forests.’’

Submissions close March 27.

Barmah Forest Preservation League president Peter Newman backed the trial.

‘‘We would believe that thinning is desperately needed because the tree population is much too high,’’ Mr Newman said.

‘‘When it was a state forest that was what the timber industry did.’’

Anyone wanting to make a submission can email or mail PER Planner, PO BOX 1049, Griffith NSW 2680.

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