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Spatial analysis of logging on steep slopes across Special Water Supply Catchment areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria : A summary of the submission provided to the audit of VicForests' logging operations against the FSC Controlled Wood Standard for Forest Management Enterprises

CollectionsANU Fenner School of Environment & Society
Title: Spatial analysis of logging on steep slopes across Special Water Supply Catchment areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria : A summary of the submission provided to the audit of VicForests' logging operations against the FSC Controlled Wood Standard for Forest Management Enterprises
Author(s): Taylor, Chris
Lindenmayer, David B.
Keywords: Central Highlands of Victoria
Logging
Mountain ash forests
Water catchments
Steep slope logging
Date published: Dec-2019
Publisher: Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
Citation: Taylor C and Lindenmayer DB. (2018) Spatial analysis of logging on steep slopes across Special Water Supply Catchment areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria. Fenner School of Environment & Society, The Australian National University, Canberra.
Description: 
In November 2019, the Victorian Government announced logging across the state’s native forests would close by 2030 (1). Following on, the Victorian Government’s logging business, VicForests, was assessed by accredited auditors against the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) Controlled Wood Standard (2). The FSC is widely recognized as a leading forest certification scheme, on the basis that it enjoys support from a wide range of environmental, social and economic interests (3). The FSC label has grown considerably across the world (4), with leading brands featuring the FSC logo on many of their products (5). VicForests has recognized this market push and it has made several unsuccessful attempts to meet FSC Controlled Wood Standard for Forest Management Enterprises (FSC-STD-30-010 V2.0) (6) as well as the more rigorous FSC forest management certification standard (7). In November 2019, VicForests made another attempt at meeting FSC-STD-30-010 V2.0, which requires forest management companies to not illegally log forests, to not violate civil or traditional rights, not threaten high conservation value forests, not convert native forests to plantations or other non-forest uses and to not use genetically modified trees (6). It was audited by SCS Global Services, an accredited FSC certification body. In the lead up to this FSC Controlled Wood audit, we prepared a submission detailing where logging had occurred on steep slopes across declared Special Water Supply Catchments in the Central Highlands of Victoria. We argued that this practice compromises the integrity of these catchments. Under the FSC system, we argue that these forests would qualify as High Conservation Value (HCV) forests. Under HCV Category 4 (HCV4), the FSC Australia HCV Evaluation Framework states that a forest can be classified as high conservation value if it provides basic ecosystem services in critical situations, including where forests protect water catchments and control erosion of vulnerable soils and slopes (8). The Framework listed an ecosystem service is considered to be ‘critical’ where a disruption of that service is likely to cause or pose a threat of severe negative impact on the welfare, health or survival of local communities, on the environment or on other High Conservation Values (8). The FSC-STD-30-010 V2.0 Standard requires that forest management operations maintain and not threaten these and other high conservation values. The logging of forests on steep slopes risks the occurrence of erosion, which is simply the transport of soil constituents by natural forces, primarily water and wind (9). Soils on steep slopes are vulnerable to erosion due increased flows of water across the surface and the increased effect of gravity. As the slope becomes steeper, the effect of gravity on soil particles to move downslope increases (10). Disturbed forest areas are also vulnerable to increased erosion. Soil erosion rates across undisturbed forested catchments may be around 0-1 t/ha/year. In contrast, erosion rates following a disturbance, such as a fire, may range between 10-50 t/ha/year (11).
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/195644

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