After well over a decade of advocacy by conservation groups, the Victorian Government has announced the creation of three new national parks in Central West Victoria: Wombat-Lerderderg National Park (near Daylesford), Mount Buangor National Park (west of Ballarat, near Beaufort), and the Pyrenees National Park (near Avoca), along with other regional parks and reserves. This is the first time in a decade that Victoria will receive a major addition to the national park system.
This is a massive win for conservation and community groups, some of whom have been working for more than 15 years on this campaign.
The National Trust actively supported the proposal since 2018, after the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) recommended an increase of 58,115 hectares in protected areas (Read our original post and submission here: Central West).
Increasing the status of parks to the national level enables a linking and holistic management of existing state forests, parks and reserves. This will increase habitat connectivity across a fragmented landscape, and provide critical protection for the state’s natural and cultural heritage.
What about Mount Cole?
In our original submission, we raised concerns regarding Mount Cole being retained as a state forest subject to logging, and urged VEAC to reconsider protections for this landscape. While we are pleased to see Mount Cole receiving increased protections as part of the proposed Mount Buangor National Park, a staged implementation plan leaves the area vulnerable to native logging, which is due to end in Victoria in 2030.
The values of Mount Cole include geological and geomorphological sites, Montane Plateau and Herb-rich Foothill Forest vegetation type, rare or threatened species including the endangered Mount Cole grevillea, and the headwaters of the Wimmera River. Mount Cole is also a location highly visited for recreational activities, including the Berripmo Walk. The landscape will likely be an important climate change refuge for species movement and survival.
By committing to add Mount Cole to the National Parks estate, the Government is in agreement with many conservation groups that it is highly valued and must be protected from destructive activities. Given this acknowledgement, it makes little sense to allow clearfell logging to continue for another 9 years. Read more about this issue at the Victorian National Parks Association: Mount Cole on the Chopping Block.
Image courtesy of VNPA.