Kuark Forest isn’t the most well-known conservation location, but for many Gippsland residents it’s quickly becoming a hive of environmental activity.
Kuark is currently under scrutiny in the Supreme Court, with Environment East Gippsland (EEG) suing the Victorian government and VicForests for failing to uphold commitment to protect native owl species.
Now, a group of volunteers working with the Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) to set up a camp over this coming weekend that aims to survey the land, including its flora and fauna, while also establishing a local base from which campaigners can help protect the area from logging.
Wild contributor and forest campaigner for GECO, Ed Hill explained the “weekend will consist of forest walks, survey workshops, nocturnal spot lighting and owl surveys, botanical surveys, tree climbing workshops and general good times hanging out in one of the lushest old growth forests in Victoria”.
Kuark is recognised as a bastion of biodiversity in the region, including elements of warm and cool temperate rainforest in a ‘cross-over’ assemblage, while offering refuge for native species including sooty, powerful and masked owls, greater gliders and the endangered long footed potoroo.
After fires devastated 170,000 hectares of Gippsland forests in January and February, 2014, the government was legally required to review and secure replacement forest areas that would be suitable habitat for owl species in particular, EEG co-ordinator Jill Redwood asserted.
As this hasn’t occurred and the court case appears that it may continue for some time, the attention has shifted to the few remaining forests that can offer shelter to these animals – hence the importance of Kuark Forest.
“Currently there are 81 proposed logging areas where owls have been detected that VicForests have agreed not to log,” said Hill. “However, this agreement expired at the end of February and its unclear if it will be extended.”
However, it doesn’t end with the camp for members of GECO. The team is also becoming increasingly new media savvy and is inviting supporters to stay up to date with a Kuark Forest blog, to sign their online petition at Change.org and even donate to their Pozible fundraising campaign.